Thank you to Patrick Bonner for this important article.
In 1953, the CIA engineered a coup that overthrew the popular elected president of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, replacing him with the Shah (King), Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Initially proposed by Britain in order to maintain its hold on Iranian oil, the coup was carried out by the Eisenhower administration that saw it as a strategic move in the cold war era.
Twenty-six years later, in 1979, the people of Iran overthrew the Shah and replaced his brutal rule with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, the new regime turned out to be brutal as well.
In November of 1979, angered by what the United States had done to their country and further incensed when the Shah was allowed entrance into the U.S. for medical treatment, a group of students took control of the U.S. embassy in Iran and held the people there hostage for 444 days. According to some, the takeover was aimed at preventing another coup such as the one that had been organized from the U.S. embassy in 1953. During the takeover, the U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Iran. The United States and Iran still do not have normal relations.
Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran in 1980. In the ensuing war, which lasted eight years and killed a million people, the United States provided logistical support to Saddam Hussein, possibly including the provision of coordinates that were used for targeting with chemical weapons (Foreign Policy magazine, 8/26/13). In July 1988, the U.S. mistakenly shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing all 290 people on board.
During the past decade, sanctions imposed by the U.S. have become increasingly onerous for the Iranian people. The stated objective of some of the sanctions is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability, something Iran has shown little inclination to do.
With the election in 2013 of Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, there is a new effort by leaders in both the United States and Iran to resolve the issues and begin a new relationship. A six-month interim agreement was reached in November 2013 that went into effect on January 20, 2014. Then a series of further negotiations took place between Iran on the one side and a group of nations referred to as the P5+1 (the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K., France, and Germany) on the other. The purpose of the negotiations was for Iran to reduce its
nuclear capabilities in exchange for a gradual lifting of economic sanctions. An agreement was finalized on July 14, 2015.
But there are efforts by hard-liners in the U.S. Congress to destroy the agreement. Some have explicitly expressed a preference for war instead of diplomacy, even going so far as to advocate bombing Iran. (Tom Cotton: Bombing Iran would take ‘several days’ By Eric Bradner, CNN http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/08/politics/tom-cotton-bombing-iran-several-days/ and Vox WORLD The best part of the Iran deal: no war with Iran, by Zack Beauchamp, July 14, 2015 http://www.vox.com/2015/4/14/8389515/iran-war )
In May 2015, Congress passed legislation and President Obama signed it, requiring that an agreement between the United States and Iran would need to be approved by Congress. Consequently, Congress now has 60 days to review the agreement and will be able to schedule a vote on whether to accept or reject it. Such a vote can be expected in mid September. The agreement will not go into effect during these 60 days.
If diplomacy fails – i.e. if Congress rejects the agreement – a military attack on Iran is more likely. Needless to say, such a war would be disastrous.
Please contact your members of Congress (House and Senate) urging them to support the agreement with Iran. Any congressional office can be reached through the capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121.
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