Sometime today, Congress will pass Resolution 568, an AIPAC or Israeli sponsored resolution that seeks to tie the President’s hands in negotiations with Iran. The bill will pass overwhelmingly, probably without much debate. MJ Rosenberg describes here the process of getting the bill to the floor, and why there won’t be much debate. The key provision stresses the unacceptibility of Iran having a “nuclear weapons capability”–not, please note, actual nuclear weapons (which Iran does not have, and does not seem to want) but simply the knowledge and technical capacity to enrich uranium. A second one is the unacceptabilty of containment as a means for dealing with the problem of Iran’s nuclear weapons. While other countries in the world, including of course the US, have relied on containment and deterrence to deal with nuclear armed rivals, Israel wants a regional monopoly on the deadly weapons.
We’ll check back later to see if anything interesting was said during the debate. While it might be unfair to say that Congress’s sophistication on Mid East matters is aptly reflected by Joe Pitt’s letter to a constituent, an overwhelming interest of most Congressmen is simply not getting on the bad side of AIPAC. One retiring Congressman told me that AIPAC related donations amounted to about $500K each election cycle–and if one deviates from the line, they are taken away and given to an opponent. It’s enough to generate bipartisan majorities and not much dissent on bills like this.
Interesting that today the RAND Corporation, cold war realist think tank par excellence, produced this analysis arguing that an Israeli or American attack on Iran would make a nuclear armed Iran more likely rather than less. I thought it noteworthy and a bit surprising that the RAND piece mentioned Iranian distrust of the US, dating from the American overthrow of its democratically elected government in 1953. We all harbor our grievances and they shape our view of the world, but other countries have them too, and they can be significant.