Iran Bill in the House: Embargo or Not ?

Last week Voters for Peace sent an appeal (posted here) to stop what sounds like a call for an embargo on Iran. This would be an act of war. A bill in Congress (HR 362), endorsed by 1st CD Rep. Tim Bishop is described by Voters for Peace as follows:

The resolution’s key section "demands that the president initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program."

Voters for Peace continues:
"This resolution essentially calls for an act of war – a naval blockade of Iran. If passed by the Congress and Bush does what is asked it ensures war with Iran. Iran is three times the size of Iraq. If you think the Iraq war and occupation have been bad, wait till you see what war with Iran brings."

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop apparently is on a different planet:

From Doris Wilk:
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 1:54 PM

This is a response to an e-mail I sent to Rep. Bishop, asking him not to vote for H. Res. 362 calling for increased sanctions on Iran, the same technique we saw in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. Thought you might be interested.

PEACE, Doris

Dear Ms. Wilk,

Thank you for expressing your opposition to H.Res. 362, expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony. It is important for me to have the benefit of your views, and I appreciate you taking the time to contact me.

Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, its desire to interfere with and undermine legitimately elected governments in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories*, and its arming of militias in Iraq and warlords in Afghanistan all speak to the need for the international community and the United States to confront Iran's regional ambitions in a significant and coordinated way.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation to tighten sanctions on Iran's oil sector and to encourage divestment in companies that do business in Iran. These efforts are designed to convince Iran to abandon both its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and its support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

In short, sanctions are an attempt to avoid war, not to start it. I cosponsored H.Con.Res. 362 both to express the deep concerns of Congress about Iranian behavior and to call for additional non-military pressure to be applied to Tehran.

There has been some concern that this non-binding resolution urging the President to "increase economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran," might be a resolution declaring military action. Nothing could be further from the intent of the resolution.

A concurrent resolution does not have the force of law, but rather expresses the opinion of Congress.

Also, the final clause of the resolution states explicitly, "Whereas nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran." A naval blockade is considered a use of force. This resolution does not endorse such action. In addition, the resolution calls on the President to initiate an international effort to increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran.

Thank you again for sharing your views. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office. For more information and to find out about other important issues that I am working on in Congress, I urge you to visit my website at and sign up for my e-newsletter.


Timothy Bishop
Member of Congress


* Mr. Bishop is confused about which is the democratically elected government in the Israeli- Occupied Territories. Hamas was elected by the Palestinians to govern those territories. The US, not Iran has undermined that government by helping fund Fatah in its battle with Hamas, actually giving military aid for that cause.

The US continues to give military aid to Israel which fought a war in Lebanon against Hezbollah.
, an organization with wide support in Lebanon. The U.S. war policy is nothing if not an attempt to attain hegemony in the Middle East. Iran, as a country in that part of the world has an interest in what happens in the countries on its border.

This bill's stated aim is to control only the nuclear weapons in Iran. We should support control of nuclear weapons by all countries in the world including India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the U.S. and the rest.

Tony Ernst
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