Rhode Island peace activists say a resolution co-sponsored by US Representatives James Langevin and Patrick Kennedy could lead to war with Iran.
Launched in response to Iran’s nuclear program, the resolution calls for President George W. Bush to initiate an international effort to increase economic sanctions and ban all refined petroleum exports to Iran. To enforce the sanctions, the resolution calls for “stringent” inspections of “all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.” The resolution also notes, “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran.”
But Jo-Anne Hart, a visiting professor at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Affairs, says implementing the policy outlined in the resolution would be like “lighting a fuse” that will “trip us into war.” If the US starts boarding ships to make inspections, Hart predicts, an incident precipitating war will shortly follow.
“It’s like a declaration of war,” agrees Samuel Smith of Barrington, a member of the Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to End War and Occupation, which will cripple Iran’s economy. Due to a refinery shortage, Iran currently imports about 40 percent of its gasoline and diesel fuel, according to the Washington Post.
Activists want Langevin and Kennedy to withdraw their support for the resolution, which is co-sponsored by 259 other Congressmen. A similar Senate resolution has 50 sponsors, but Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse are not among them.
Langevin and Kennedy were unavailable for comment. In a letter to a West Warwick constituent, however, Langevin says he opposes “unilateral preemptive military action against Iran.” Kennedy, in a faxed statement declared, “This resolution, in no uncertain terms, expresses that the threats posed by Iran can only be resolved through peaceful measures.”
US Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, also rejects claims that his resolution could lead to naval blockade or war. In a letter to fellow representatives, he says the ban on petroleum exports would be enforced in “exporting countries, not in the Persian Gulf.”
Kaveh Afrasiabi, the author of two books on Iranian foreign policy and a former Tehran University instructor, calls the resolution “provocative.” Speaking August 6 to more than 100 people at Providence’s Beneficent Church, Afrasiabi blamed the US for increasing tensions with Iran.
Citing his conversations with top Iranian officials, Afrasiabi says the US has “seriously and rudely rebuffed,” Iran’s diplomatic overtures. Iran is threatened since it is surrounded by US allies and the only country in the Persian Gulf “not run by the United States’ whims and wishes,” he states.
A pending agreement to establish 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq is part of “the whole American security belt tightening around Iran,” Afrasiabi says, and makes negotiations more difficult. Predictably, he notes, Iran has responded to US threats with its own threats.
Afrasiabi discounts Iran as a nuclear threat, saying the International Atomic Energy Agency would quickly detect any movement of plutonium for military use.