It is hard to go against the overwhelming majority of members of Congress, even when the overwhelming majority is wrong.
But eight House members did just that last week, when they opposed the ill-thought "Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act."
Six Democrats — Washington’s Brian Baird, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, Michigan’s John Conyers, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich and California’s Pete Stark — were joined by two Republicans, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Texan Ron Paul.
California Democrat Maxine Waters voted "present."
Several of the eight "no" voters had records of wise, if frequently lonely, opposition to kneejerk policymaking in the region.
Kucinich, for instance, has argued in voting against several sanctions proposals that congressional showboating regarding Iran "obstructs the Obama Administration’s ongoing negotiations with Iran, amounts to economic warfare against the Iranian people and brings us closer to an unnecessary and possibly military confrontation with Iran."
Baldwin has long been critical of moves that she correctly fears "will impair the United States’ ability to work with our allies in pursuit of a diplomatic solution in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions."
She has also pointed out, correctly, that members of Congress should be wary of moves that "will not have any effect on changing the Iranian government’s behavior" but tha are likely to "hurt the Iranian people" and potentially "engender a backlash by Iranians against the U.S. – not the Iranian regime."
These are the words of a member of Congress who takes seriously her duties when it comes to providing advice and consent on U.S. foreign policy.
Baldwin’s advice is sound.
Unfortunately, it is nwas not ot taken by the vast majority of her colleagues.
Also dismissed were the warnings from diplomats, arms-control specialists and proponents of democratic reform in Iran, all of whom argued that this legislation would do harm to prospects for peaceful resolution of disputes between that country and the U.S. and its allies.
There is no question that Iran is on a dangerous and misguided course. The current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is an unsettling character who has treated his own people brutally while threatening neighboring countries and developing a nuclear program that western nation’s, at the very least, fear could ultimately engage in the development of weapons.