Wexler takes a stand: Iran resolution must change!

Amid the swirling controversy over H.Con.Res. 362, Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) argued on Wednesday that the “Iran Resolution Must Change.” We here at NIAC completely agree. In an published in the Huffington Post the Congressman argued that H.Con.Res.362 must not be passed as it currently stands. Instead, he says America must engage in diplomacy with Iran and not use military force.

H.Con.Res.362 has been particularly controversial because it contains language that can be interpreted to recommend imposing a naval blockade on Iran. A blockade is an act of war and Wexler writes that many people “express real concerns that sections of this resolution will be interpreted by President Bush as “a green light” to use force against Iran.” Prominent figures and academics have argued along the same lines, as was seen by the op-eds written by Trita Parsi and Shlomo Ben-Ami and Cyrus Bina and Sam Gardiner.

In addition, Congressman Lacy Clay of Missouri officially withdrew his cosponsorship of H.Con.Res. 362 this week, echoing the criticisms of a number of Representatives on this bill.

Wexler’s main contentions with the blockade resolution are “its failure to advocate for direct American engagement with Tehran and open language that could lead to a US blockade of Iran.” Consequently he promised to “lead an effort to make changes to this resolution before it comes to the Foreign Affairs committee for a vote.” He said that it is his goal to add language “highlighting a more effective American strategy that calls for direct engagement with Tehran.” This is positive news and we hope that Rep. Wexler will succeed in making such amendments.

However, time is not on our side and the resolution already has 238 cosponsors. Nevertheless, Wexler himself is a co-sponsor but has said that the ability to make alterations “will ultimately determine whether or not I will continue to support H. Con. Res. 362.” Therefore one hopes that he will be able to gain support from those who have already signed onto the legislation, as well as from those who oppose it.

The fact that it is Wexler raising these objections is significant. This is because he is a key supporter of the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. Though his statement was not intended to represent the Obama campaign, his position as a central campaign surrogate suggests that Obama’s position can’t be far off. This is important from our community’s viewpoint, especially given Obama’s clear foreign policy intention of placing a strong emphasis on diplomacy with Iran.

What is also notable is that Wexler is viewed as a strong potential candidate for Florida’s Senate race in the 2010. Florida has the sixth largest Iranian-American population in the country. Consequently, from the stance he has taken on H.Con.Res. 362, voters in Florida can get some idea of how he might act if he were to be elected Senator. Watch this space for more developments!

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