Obama, Kerry to Congress on Iran: You Don't Want War, Do You?

Obama, Kerry to Congress on Iran: You Don't Want War, Do You?

Secretary of State John Kerry will tell the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday that Congress should withhold any new sanctions against Iran to allow diplomacy a chance to succeed. 

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki put the case more bluntly, saying that new sanctions “would be a mistake” and that a vote on sanctions would be a “vote for or against diplomacy”–i.e., a vote to go to war with Iran, eventually.

The State Department’s brash rhetoric is a complete reversal of its equally harsh tone in encouraging Congress to authorize the use of military force in Syria, when Kerry described the decision as “our Munich moment,” likening it to the question of whether to confront or appease Adolf Hitler in 1938. The administration’s penchant for tough-sounding conclusions often belie a wavering, fickle underlying policy.

Some consider the talks on Iran’s nuclear program the better fit for Munich analogies. Law professor–and Obama supporter–Alan Dershowitz invoked Munich and the legacy of then-British Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain. “Were Iran to use the current diplomatic efforts as a cover to buy time to make a preventive military attack unrealistic, this would indeed be our ‘Chamberlain moment,'” he wrote Tuesday in Ha’aretz.

“The immediate choice for the world today is not between diplomacy and preventive war, as it may have been in 1938. We have a third option: To maintain or even increase the sanctions while keeping the military option on the table,” Dershowitz wrote. Ironically, by making a case against new sanctions, Kerry is hurting Obama’s leverage at the negotiating table with Iran, not helping it–much less solving the problem itself.


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