July 13, 2000
Sanctions will make things worse
Dear Congressman Brad Sherman,
It has come to my attention through the large Iranian-American community
of Southern California that you are about to introduce a bill that reverses
the partial lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, as adopted by the
State Department in March.
While the recent violations of human rights and press freedoms in Iran
and the questionable trial of Iranian citizens on charges of spying concerns
us all as freedom-loving American citizens, many well-respected American
Iran-experts as well as current and former U.S. government officials have
explained from their expertise how the continuation of economic sanctions
against Iran is against our national interests.
These respected Americans, among whom are Profefoor Gary Sick, former
secretaries of defense Chainy and Schultz, former National Security Advisor
Brent Scrowcroft, former secretaries of state Brzezinski and Baker all
have argued that by pressuring Iran's economy, we will be strengthening
the hand of the hardliners inside Iran against democratic reformers, including
the executive branch of President Khatami and the newly elected reformist
The simple fact is that hardliners within Iran survive on a motto of
anti-American rhetoric and place the blame of all of the country's ills
on the United States. More importantly, they use these slogans to muffle
the voices of reform, reason, and moderation by accusing them of being
American agents and enemies of Islam.
Therefore, any reinstatement of sanctions against Iran, will not only
not make the smallest difference in the condition of the ten Iranian Jews,
but it will probably make it worse for them in addition to hurting Iran's
movement towards democracy.
Just today, President Khatami expressed hope that in their appeal, the
convicted Iranians are likely to receive more leniency. This goes to demonstrate
that his liberal-minded government is already trying to influence the hardline
judicial branch in favor of respect for these Iranians' civil rights.
By Congress reinstating sanctions against Iran in reaction to this spy
case, the next line out of the hardliners' propaganda machines is going
to be, "see how America came to rescue the Zionist spies! We will
not succumb to America's pressures!" Then the next move will be to
make more arrests, close down more newspapers, and further stall Iran's
movement towards democracy and moderation.
As it is well known, democracies don't go to war against democracies,
and in the case of Iran a democratic Iran will be more moderate (as it
has already proven) and will not pursue terrorism or violation of civil
rights, including those of its religious and ethnic minorities.
As an Iranian-American and your constituent, I ask you to kindly pay
attention to these truths and the advice of expert Americans and not pursue
the path on which you have embarked. As a public servant, your goal should
be the promotion of our national and regional interests and not immediate
Besides, I invite you to present my letter to those constituents and
donators who are pressuring you to introduce this bill and see if they
will not have a change of heart.
Also, we have a very large Iranian-American community in the Los Angeles
area, including your district, and I invite you to make your voice heard
among our community. As our community has in the last few years become
more united and politically active, I am sure that we can serve as a loyal
and helpful constituency to your future campaigns and public initiatives.
I invite you to please demonstrate to our community your sincerity to
the promotion of democratic principles (e.g. civil rights) at home and
As for the immediate concern of justice for the Iranian Jews convicted
of spying, I am certain that diplomatic measures through the United Nations
towards the Iranian government will be the most prudent means of trying
to support these men. Any sort of pressure through the United States or
Israel on their behalf will only exacerbate their misfortune.