October 11, 2013, Washington, D.C.– Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ/8th) is seeking cosponsors for the U.S. Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act, which amongst other things would authorize the president of the United States to use military force against Iran. During the past several weeks, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has mentioned his plans to introduce a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.
According to PAAIA’s annual National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans, an overwhelming majority of Iranian Americans have family in Iran. Nearly two-thirds of them report communicating with family and friends in the country at least several times per month and want Iran to be a secular democracy. While Iranian Americans want Iran to change, they are also concerned about the potential ramifications of a military conflict between Iran and the U.S. Nearly two-thirds oppose a military strike against Iran’s nuclear sites or other facilities, overwhelmingly because of civilian casualties, but also because they believe that the strikes would be ineffective, would adversely impact U.S. national and economic interests, and would actually encourage Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Poll data also indicates that a solid majority of the Iranian American community supports President Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program. In PAAIA’s 2013 survey, fifty-nine percent of those polled said they felt that way, indicating support for the administration’s strategy of using sanctions coupled with diplomacy to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Experts believe that U.S. and international economic pressures have had an impact on Iran’s calculus, pushing the country toward the negotiating table.
At a time when the U.S. is seeking a direct dialogue with the Iranian people, aiming to hear their views and support their democratic aspirations, legislation authorizing the use of military force against Iran would alienate the Iranian people and serve the interests of hardliners within the Iranian regime, potentially complicating our public diplomacy efforts.
While as a nation, we never want to take the military option off the table, an authorization for the use of force against Iran at this time, without the support of the president, would be unprecedented and potentially damaging to U.S. interests. The vast majority of the Iranian American community, as well as many national security experts, believe that the best option to the nuclear impasse remains a negotiated settlement between the United States and Iran. Now is the time to put diplomacy to a test.
In light of these concerns, PAAIA recently contacted Senator Graham and Representative Franks to start a dialogue with their respective offices and express our concerns about the introduction of legislation authorizing the use of military force against Iran. In addition, PAAIA reached out to numerous other congressional offices, including the offices of those that serve in leadership positions, to express our community’s concerns about this matter. PAAIA will continue to follow up on this issue and will provide updates as appropriate.
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The policy of PAAIA is to maintain a neutral stance regarding international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. However, as an organization that represents the Iranian American community, we believe we have a duty to express the community’s concerns about a potential military conflict with Iran, based on the findings of our annual surveys of Iranian Americans.