December 19, 2011 | 9:30 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
The United States Senate very rarely passes votes unanimously on major legislation during the course of a year and in its long history. Yet earlier this month the U.S. Senate voted unanimously on one of the most stringent sanctions to date on Iran’s Central Bank. The legislation was spearheaded by both Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illionis— indeed a very unusual occasion when both parties come agree to hammer out a bill that benefits the country and the world. But these two courageous lawmakers and the rest of the U.S. Senate clearly realized that Iran’s attaining nuclear weapons is a very serious matter and stopping that regime now with tougher economic sanctions without firing a single bullet was the right move. Despite passage of this landmark amendment known as “Menendez -Kirk” in the Senate, President Obama and his administration have for some foolish reason refused to support it!
I think it’s important to lay out what the amendment truly calls for in order for one to realize how totally ludicrous it would be for any U.S. lawmaker to oppose it. The amendment does the following…
“Prohibits the opening or maintaining in the U.S. of a correspondent account or a payable-through account on foreign financial institutions engaged in non-petroleum-related transactions with the Central Bank of Iran after 60 days. In addition, it imposes sanctions on foreign financial institutions, including central banks, engaged in petroleum-related transactions with the Central Bank of Iran after 180 days with 180-day special exemptions tied to the availability of non-Iranian oil on the market and a country’s significant reduction in purchases of Iranian oil. Likewise it provides a humanitarian exception for food, medicine and medical devices. Lastly it allows the president with an unclassified national security waiver authority every 120 days”.
Now those of us who are well aware of the serious threat a nuclear Iran is to the free world and also believe the military option is not the right route to take against Iran, are simply baffled at why President Obama will not sign this amendment into law! We all know that a key component that is keeping Iran’s radical fundamentalist Islamic regime surviving is its financial lifeline— which is now a shaky economy. So one is left wondering why the President who has said “a nuclear Iran is not acceptable” has failed to take a solid step in squeezing Iran’s lifeline? Moreover one is shocked at how the President has failed to sign Menendez –Kirk, even though it was unanimously passed in the Senate by both Democrats and Republicans? How can President Obama oppose Menendez –Kirk that also gives him both a national security waiver and a waiver to avoid international difficulties to the flow of oil in the world? Mr. President what is stopping you from delivering a strong blow to Iran’s regime without taking the military option? Mr. President what more do you need to sign this necessary bill that could expedite demise of the Islamic Republic of Iran with firing a single shot?
I contacted the White House press office a few times via e-mail and asked for a legitimate answer as to why the President refuses to sign Menendez –Kirk, but never heard back from them. Yet I’m not the only one frustrated by the President’s failure in taking a strong leadership role on Iran policy and this amendment, just listen to U.S. Senator Menendez, who is from the President’s political party, expressing his disappointment and outrage at President Obama’s lack of support for this powerful amendment…
The President’s refusal to support this amendment is yet another prime example of a golden opportunity that the President has passed on in effectively stopping Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons without taking military steps. President Obama’s first passed up golden opportunity to help stop Iran’s regime came in the summer of 2009 when the brave people of Iran began protesting in the streets of Iran against the rigged presidential elections. The people of Iran began marching in the streets demanding for greater freedoms, democracy and an end to the brutal dictatorship of Iran’s notorious mullahs. What did the President do in response to the Iranian people’s cries for help? For several days he did nothing! He did not utter a word of backing for their cries for help. Finally after a week or so when the protestors were killed, beaten and imprisoned, President Obama gave a watered-down weak speech asking for the Iranian regime to “allow for greater freedoms” for their people. The people of Iran were disappointed with the President’s catastrophic failure to back them and their quest for true freedom— and they showed this disappointment when they chanted in the streets; “Obama you are either with us or you are with them!” The President did nothing when he could have more vocally stepping onto the world’s stage in support of Iran’s people. The President wanted to “make nice” with the mullahs ruling Iran in an effort to lure them to the negotiating table on the nuclear issue. Well this approach clearly failed and the regime’s leadership spat in his face and refused to negotiate. President Obama instead could have pledged economic and diplomatic support for the people of Iran’s desires to be free from their oppressive regime. He could have urged the people of Iran to topple their bloodthirsty oppressors by promising support from the U.S. All of this potential help from the President could have possibly helped start the demise of Iran’s current regime and Iran’s nuclear weapons program without a single bullet or missile fired by the U.S. or any other country. Yet in the end the President missed this golden opportunity and proved that his approach and policy of dealing with Iran is an utter failure.
Lastly what continues to baffle me about the President’s failure to sign this stringent sanction on Iran’s Central Bank is the fact that the European governments, whom have more trade with Iran and purchase Iran’s oil in larger volumes, are now considering similar tough sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank— while we in the U.S. who do not trade with Iran and do not purchase Iranian oil are doing nothing! It just doesn’t make sense for us here in the U.S. not to stop Iran’s financial lifeline when we have little if nothing to loose financially from doing so!
Readers of this blog often e-mail me or post comments asking why I am so critical of President Obama’s approach on Iran. Well his failure to take courageous and effective leadership steps (without taking military steps) as I’ve listed above are prime examples of why this U.S. President is either a complete fool when it comes to dealing with Iran, or surrounded by fools who are advising him poorly on Iran, or just completely incompetent when it comes to serious foreign policy issues relating to Iran and the Middle East! The President’s lack of effective leadership on the Iran issue should put into question his competency to be the commander-in-chief of this great nation in next year’s presidential election. My only hope is that average Americans and the media will ask the President the tough questions when it comes to his lack of leadership on the Iran issue and ask him why he refused to sign the bi-partisan supported Menendez –Kirk amendment that could have helped stop Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single bullet! If Iran ever obtains nuclear weapons during President Obama’s watch, he will go down in history as the president who brought both America and the world closer to nuclear annihilation.
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