10 Out of 11 Members of Virginia House Delegation Sign Letter to President Obama on Iran


    Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced that 367 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had signed and “released a bipartisan letter to President Obama underscoring the ‘grave and urgent issues that have arisen’ relating to the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.” The actionable part is at the end (see blockquote below), following a list of Iran’s transgressions (e.g., ” Iran has still not revealed its past bomb work, despite its international obligations to do so;” “Iran’s decades of deception,” and “Iran’s destabilizing role in the regio”).  The letter also states a clear demand that any agreement with Iran “must constrain Iran’s nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting.”

    The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation, imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.

    Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of grave importance to our nation’s security. As the Administration continues to negotiate with Iran, we are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies. We remain hopeful that a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon may yet be reached, and we want to work with you to assure such a result.

    The Iran letter was signed by 10 out of 11 members of Virginia’s House delegation, the only non-signatory being Rep. Don Beyer. I’m curious why Beyer didn’t sign (I emailed his office late yesterday but haven’t heard back), while the other two Virginia Democrats – Gerry Connolly and Bobby Scott – did. Personally, I can see reasons for signing and for not signing. Although I don’t really disagree with anything in the letter, the question is whether it is helpful, harmful, or where exactly in between those two?

    P.S. For a list of the 59 House Dems and 6 House Republicans who didn’t sign the letter, click here — a mixed bag ideologically, geographically, etc.  

    • CaffinatedOne

      This seems to be mostly of a weak reminder that the US house does FP too, not just the senate. After the mess that the senate made with regard to Iran, at least the house is just sending a sternly worded memo to the president in their attempt to undercut him.

      The nuclear bits are mostly uncontroversial, aside from perhaps the insinuation that Iran was pretty much inherently untrustworthy, which isn’t terribly helpful.

      The amusing part of the letter is where they blame Iran for acting as a destabilizing agent in the middle east. It’s hard to put into words how detached from reality that whole section is. It’s like they have no idea how the present mess came about, what Iran’s or our interests in the region actually are. Oddly they overlap in a number of areas (Guess who’s helping against ISIS in Iraq, for instance).

      In short, it’s an excellent note to demonstrate that the US house are full of foreign policy lightweights who’d like to hear the sound of their own voices.

    • NotJohnSMosby

      He was Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  That means he he was also the shadow ambassador to all of the places we don’t have diplomatic relations with, since we go through the Swiss to deal with most of them.  I don’t know if that’s the reason or not, but it could be that Beyer didn’t want to risk burning any diplomatic back channels that he might have.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Maybe someone can help me with a few answers to questions I have:

      1. If we have allowed North Korea (a paranoid nation led by a certifiable nutcake) to have a nuclear weapon; if we allowed Pakistan, a nation that has promoted terrorists groups dedicated to attacking American assets, to have nuclear weapons; if we have have closed eyes to the fact that Israel has scores of nuclear weapons which its neighbors fear, then why the horror over Iran trying to get nuclear weapons? (Put another way, nuclear proliferation is a fact of the modern world. It is sad but true. I’m not saying Iran should be given a pass. I’m asking what makes Iran special?)

      2. At present, there is a Shia/Sunni quasi-civil war being fought in the Middle East and North Africa by proxies. The Bush Administration put us into the middle of the mess by invading Iraq on the pretense of destroying mythical weapons of mass destruction. Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia want the destruction of Shia Iran, and vice versa. What is the national interest of the United States in further involving ourselves in this civil war?

      3. Israel is almost certainly correct in assuming that a Palestinian state in the present political situation in the Middle East would inevitably have difficulty avoiding becoming home to terrorists dedicated to its destruction. Given that fact, and the recent election of a right-wing Israeli government, what should be our response?

      I suppose what I am posing here is that there are no easy answers in the present situation in Middle East politics. We could get ourselves in a generation-long mess if we are not careful. We better not elect an ideologue in 2016.

    • amber waves

      Beyer said he was going to be like Moran was on the Middle East.  Moran was fiercely non-partisan with regards to those conflicts and actors. Beyer unfortunately attended (and implicitly supported) Netanyahoo’s speech to Congress. This was a mistake.

      This letter seeks to undermine Obama rather than support him.   The signers are not serious about the need for nuclear non-proliferation or disarmament.  India, Pakistan, Israel? Where are the sanctions and pressures on these states?  This letter is pitiful. Just an anti-Iran screed.

      Connolly is such a disappointment, rarely standing up to AIPAC.