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War or Peace? Raise Your Hand

The White House and the U.S. Senate are in a game of chicken. Senate Bill S. 1881, "Nuclear Free Iran Act," now has more than 59 co-sponsors. If it came to the floor, it would pass. The President has said he will veto the bill. Supporters reposte: we will override the veto. The White House has said if these Senators want war with Iran, come out and say so. Senate proponents claims it is an insurance policy against Iranian failure to rid itself of its nuclear program.

What's going on? It depends on who you ask. Tuesday's New York Times offers this: "Behind these positions is a potent mix of political calculations in a midterm election year. Pro-Israel groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, have lobbied Congress to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, and many lawmakers are convinced that Tehran is bluffing in its threat to walk away from the talks."

Maybe it's the "blank check" the U.S. has long given Israel. In that case it's Kaiser Wilhelm's doing; as I discuss in my current column.

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Readers should link to the full column, not only for its argument, but also for the comments from Bernard Dauenhauer.

I a working (via th internet) with an Iranian student on his dissertation, helping on some matters on which hehas no domestic resources.   His thesis defense is next week, and today we exchanged last comments before that momentou day.   I wished for him peace (he must now report for his military service) and that we might on day meet, as peace and prosperity return to his country.   All of that, of course, is at mortal risk if we provide a "blank check" to Israel.

Mark L

Fine column, Ms. S.  You should do a book on "Blank Checks in American Diplomacy and War".

I'm confused about what seems to me to be a Constitutional issue.  How can Congress in effect *initiate* a diplomatic sanction on Iran unless it's been previously initiated by Obama?

The constitutional issue: I too am puzzled my the Senators Mendez-Kirk initiative in proposing new sanctions. Maybe one of our lawyers here know. If the president wanted to impose new sanctions, I suppose he would have to seek Congressional approval, but does it work the other way around.

I was impressed to see Senator Dianne Feinstein give a speech opposing the legislation and pointing out what's wrong with it. It appears that the chairs of the most critical committess have also come out against the legislation..

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.