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April 13, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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April 13, 2000
 

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opinionB con .00nentary 'HE RI The public opinion forum where Beverly Hills dukes out the issues SHOULD THE U IRAN TO f[I IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON EE THE 13 JEWS? PRO Congressman Brad Sherman On March 17, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the United States would allow Iran to export caviar, carpets, dried fruits and pistachios to the United States. After making these concrete concessions to Tehran, she requested that the Islamic Republic enter into talks with the United States. Our move to allow certain Iranian exports is not inconsequential. It has symbolic value beyond its eco- nomic impact. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the US has progressively tightened restrictions on business with Tehran -- - the exports in question were banned in 1987 by the Reagan Administration. The US has expended significant diplomatic capital, especially early in the Clinton Administration, to convince our allies to minimize their business deal- ings with Iran. While the Iranian people's desire for reform is heartening, the government's actions have not reflected it in either its foreign or domestic policies. At the top of the list is Iran's support for terrorism, its nuclear ambitions and its deplorable human rights situation. This week in Vienna, lran has led the OPEC faction fighting to minimize and delay increases in oil production. Every time you pay $1.75 or even $2.00 for a gallon of gas, you can be reminded that Iran has given us nothing in return for our opening of markets to their major non-energy exports. I have been involved in Congress on focusing world attention on the plight of 13 Jews arrested a year ago in the southern lranian city of Shiraz. These 13, among them a ! 6-year-old boy, were held for several months before the regime announced they were accused of spying for the United States and Israel, a crime for which they could face the death penalty. The charges are ridiculous. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jews are prohibited from holding any position which would give them access to military secrets --- hardly folks the CIA would recruit to be spies. Since the 1979 Revolution, 17 Jews have been executed on fabricated charges. The situation is even worse for those who practice the Baha'i religion. Political dissent is crushed, and hangings and stonings are routine. Iran has been condemned by the UN for its human rights record, one of the few member coun- tries to receive such a rebuke. Madeleine Albright identified the case of the 13 Jews in Shiraz "as one of the barometers of US-Iran relations" in her address. I could not agree more. This case will demonstrate if President Khatemi and the "moderates" in Iran can and will deliver. Will innocents be killed or given harsh sentences because of their religious affiliation, or will the rights of minorities be respected? Will lran join the ranks of civilized nations or will it remain on the fringes of the world com- munity? The case will indeed serve as a barometer --- I just wish the Secretary of State had read that barometer before making concessions. I support negotiations with Iran and would support mutual concessions. But negotiations areunlikely to be successful if we make major, concrete economic concessions --- and thereby invite our allies to do business as usual --- all in return for the hope that someday Iran will come to the table. Congressman Brad Sherman (D.Sherman Oaks) represents the 24th Congressional district, which includes Malibu and the West Valley. CON Patrick J. Buchanan After seven years, the Clinton administration has yet to find the right formula for dealing with what we now call"the rogue nations." We maintain sanctions on Iran, which has indeed been a hostile nation. Twenty years ago, Tehran held 52 U.S. diplomats and Marines hostage for 14 months. That regime undermines the Middle East peace process; and its agent may have colluded in the ter- rorist bombing of Khobar towers. But if Iran is responsible for the deaths of scores of Americans, China, North Korea, and North Vietnam are responsible for the deaths of 100,000 U.S. soldiers. Yet, we engage Vietnam, send foreign aid to North Korea, and provide China with a $60 billion annual trade surplus? Are the regimes in North Korea and Vietnam morally superior to Iran's? Are those countries more strategically important? If we believe the cause of peace is advanced when lsraelis talk to Arafat, and British talk to the IRA, why should we not talk to Tehran? looking over the record of U.S. sanctions against rogue states, it seems that they fail us by virtually every measure. Sanctions impose suffering not on dicta- tors, but on their oppressed people; they antagonize allies and undermine our leadership; they build up deposits of resentment and hatred against us among Arab, Islamic and Asian people; they deny our businessmen and farmers access to markets our rivals rush to capture; anal they fail either to disarm or dislodge the targeted regime. They only massage our sense of moral superiority over other nations. I do not oppose sanctions because I worry principally about our lost exports, though the economic arguments of U.S. businessmen who fight a sanctions-dri- ven policy are persuasive. I do not oppose sanctions because I am worried about the reaction of European businessmen and diplomats who resent America's efforts to apply our laws to their activities. I oppose them because sanctions have become a way for the United States to vent its anger on the cheap. Among my first acts as President will be to declare an end to all sanctions on the sale or transfer of U.S. food, medicine, or goods essential to a decent life or a civilian economy now in force against Cuba, North Korea, lran, lraq, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, and all the other targeted nations of U.S. sanctions policy. There are other ways to punish rogue regimes. We can seize the bank accounts and overseas assets of their rulers, deny visas to their diplomats and military, cut off World Bank and IMF loans, deny Export-Import Bank credits, put tariffs on the principal exports of hostile governments to deny them the hard currency to strengthen the state. We can deny their national airlines landing rights. In retaliation for attacks on U.S. citizens, the United States, the most powerful nation on earth, can retaliate militarily as we see fit. We can indict terrorists in U.S. courts and run them down. These are legitimate sanctions that zero in on real enemies. Once, we knew how to deal with tyrants, even tyrants armed with nuclear weapons. Deterrence and containment worked against the evil empires of Stalin and Mao. They can work against the lesser tyrannies of a new century. Patrick J. Buchanan is seeking the Reform party nomination for President If you have an idea for "The Ring", call 310.688.6761 April 13-19, 2000 5