Legislative Action Message by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) - February 11, 2010
The news this week from Iran should persuade Congress to rethink recent legislation that would mandate a gasoline embargo of that country. Blocking Iran's gasoline imports, which it depends on to meet 40% of its needs, would impose hardship on ordinary Iranians and lend credence to the claim that the United States is hostile to the people of Iran.
These sanctions also make no sense when a persistent Iranian reform movement struggles now to win popular support and when Iran's government is debating whether to reform and whether to engage with the United States. In this debate, alleged U.S. hostility is the best argument of Iran's hardliners' against both reform and engagement.
Yet, we at FCNL are not optimistic that Congress will make the right move. This month, House and Senate negotiators will discuss how to bring the gasoline embargo legislation to a final vote in both chambers. Not a single senator was willing to publically oppose the legislation when it came to the Senate floor. Urge your senators to state publically that they now see that sanctions are a mistake.
The Obama administration, the U.S. business community, many U.S. allies, and many knowledgeable experts on Iran agree that imposing U.S. gasoline sanctions on Iran would be a mistake, would be ineffective, and would alienate our allies.
Earlier this week President Obama announced that the United States is working for new, multilateral sanctions on Iran that would not harm the Iranian people but that would focus on groups involved in Iran's nuclear program and on violators of human rights. He also announced narrowly focused U.S. sanctions on the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard.
No new sanctions would be the smart U.S. strategy. Focused multilateral sanctions are nonetheless far preferable to the indiscriminate, punitive measure that Congress is preparing to send to the president.
Equally important, Congress and the administration need to speak out to make clear that the path to a negotiated agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, as well as U.S.-Iranian cooperation on Iraq, Afghanistan, and other issues, remains open. Engagement through diplomacy takes time and patience.
Urge your senators to state publicly that they now see petroleum sanctions as a mistake and would rather support narrow, United Nations sanctions focused on the revolutionary guard and individuals accused of violating human rights.
Contact your members of Congress through FCNL's web site.
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Washington, DC 20510
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Contact the President through FCNL's web site.
White House Comment Desk:
White House web site
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
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