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Iran Nonproliferation Amendments Act of 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


IRAN NONPROLIFERATION AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - October 26, 2005)

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I request the time in opposition if neither gentleman is opposed to the bill.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in opposition to the bill, but I want to make it very clear that the portion of the bill that the gentleman from California was speaking about I strongly endorsed. Matter of fact, I had a similar bill that would have made the same corrections, but I would like to make two points about this portion of the bill.

The one is that the corrections were necessary because we had placed sanctions on Iran, and there was an unintended consequence. It actually harmed NASA and harmed our relationships with Russia. This is making a correction and I think that is good, and I strongly support that part of the bill.

But it goes to show that sanctions per se are not necessarily good. We might just use as an example not having sanctions on a country like China. We do better talking with and getting along with China as we become trading partners rather than adversaries. So even countries that seem to be adversarial, there are some downsides to putting on sanctions.

Actually, the portion of the bill that I rise in objection to is the portion that was amended dealing with Syria. I consider this a significant change in our law. There has been very little discussion on this. This makes the bill quite different from the Senate bill. But once again, I think it is doing things that could come back to haunt us, and that is expanding our authority and the President's authority to place sanctions on Syria, of course always with good intentions; but too often bad things can happen.

In 1998, a bill came up on the suspension calendar. It was considered noncontroversial and was called the Iraq Liberation Act. It passed overwhelmingly, but at that particular time, I took the time in opposition to point out that there could be some unintended, or maybe some intended, consequences that at that time the Congress was not admitting to, and that it could lead to war. And, of course, that was the first stepping stone to the current war that we are in.

Although this particular bill is not nearly as strong as what the Iraq Liberation Act was, this nevertheless is a step as far as I am concerned in the wrong direction.

The basic thing that happens here is we are expanding tremendously the power to place sanctions on Syria, and this comes in light of the publication of the U.N. investigation on Hariri's murder, and there is a tremendous move right now to move on to the next regime change in the Middle East. To me, I believe we are overstepping our bounds and looking for more trouble.

We have essentially zero right to decide who should head foreign states. Once we decide that we know what is best for foreign countries and we can actually pick a head of state, I think it leads to trouble. I could give Members every bit of reason why we ought to change the King of Saudi Arabia, as we should change the King of Syria; and yet Saudi Arabia gets a lot of support from us.

There was a recent report in a newspaper today, whether it is factual or not it is still frightening, it said that the administration was actually putting feelers out and asking Israel and Italy to nominate a replacement for Assad. This means we are moving in that direction.

One of the reasons we are supposed to be doing this and looking closely to Syria is they present a destabilizing element in the Middle East. That in itself is stretching it. They are struggling to stabilize and survive with the pounding they are getting internationally. We forget that Syria actually sent troops into the first Persian Gulf war dealing with Kuwait. But those kinds of things are easily forgotten.

The truth is the Mehlis Report is rather vague. There is no way it ties it to Assad. There is no proof of that whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Der Spiegel, a German magazine, reported today that the most important information that the Mehlis Report cites comes from an informer who was a convicted swindler and felon. That is one of the sources of the information they are using to try to tie this into Syria.

If you want to talk about destabilization of a region, all we have to do is look at 150,000 troops in a country 6,000 miles from our borders. If we talk about the responsibility of somebody being assassinated, we might ask the question how many dozens of Iraqi administrators have been assassinated in Iraq since we have been in charge. So there are two different ways we can look at that. My deep concern is that we are moving in the direction of expanding our presence and expanding the war in that region.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to reiterate that the portion of the bill that deals with our ability to pursue our space program I strongly endorse. It is the portion that deals with Syria that was added on at the last minute that I am concerned about.

I want to say that portion of the bill, I believe, further destabilizes the Middle East and we should move with great caution. We have been warned. We should be prepared for a broader war in the Middle East as plans are being laid for the next U.S.-led regime change in Syria.

A U.N. report of the death of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri elicited this comment from a senior U.S. policy maker: ``Out of a tragedy comes an extraordinary strategic opportunity.'' This statement reflects the continued neoconservative, Machiavellian influence on our foreign policy.

The ``opportunity'' refers to the long-held neoconservative plan for regime change in Syria, similar to what was carried out in Iraq.

This plan for remaking the Middle East has been around for a long time. Just as 9/11 served the interests of those who longed for changes in Iraq, the sensationalism surrounding Hariri's death is being used to advance plans to remove Assad.

Congress already has assisted these plans by authorizing the sanctions placed on Syria last year. Harmful sanctions, as applied to Iraq in the 1990s, inevitably represent a major step toward war since they bring havoc to so many innocent people. Syria already has been charged with developing weapons of mass destruction based on no more evidence than was available when Iraq was similarly charged.

Syria has been condemned for not securing its borders by the same U.S. leaders who cannot secure our own borders. Syria was castigated for placing its troops in Lebanon, a neighboring country, although such action was invited by an elected government and encouraged by the United States. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon elicited no suicide terrorist attacks, as was suffered by Western occupiers.

Condemning Syria for having troops in Lebanon seems strange considering most of the world sees our 150,000 troops in Iraq as unwarranted foreign intervention. Syrian troops were far more welcome in Lebanon.

Secretary Rice likewise sees the problem in Syria that we helped to create as an opportunity to advance our Middle Eastern agenda. In recent testimony she stated that it was always the administration's intent to redesign the greater Middle East, and Iraq was only part of that plan. And once again we have been told that all options are still on the table for dealing with Syria, including war.

The statement that should scare all Americans and the world is the assurance by Secretary Rice that the President needs no additional authority from Congress to attack Syria. She argues that authority already has been granted by the resolutions on 9/11 and Iraq. This is not true, but if Congress remains passive to the powers assumed by the executive branch, it will not matter. As the war spreads, the only role for the Congress will be to provide funding lest they be criticized for not supporting the troops. In the meantime, the Constitution and our liberties here at home will be further eroded as more Americans die.

This escalation of conflict with Syria comes as a result of the U.N. report concerning Hariri's death. When we need an excuse for our actions, it is always nice to rely on the organization our administration routinely condemns, one that brought us the multi-million-dollar oil-for-food scandal and the sexual crimes by U.N. representatives.

It is easy to ignore the fact that the report did not implicate Assad, who is targeted for the next regime change. The U.N. once limited itself to disputes between nations; yet now it assumes the U.N., like the United States, has a legal and moral right to inject itself into the internal policies of sovereign nations. Yet what is the source of this presumed wisdom? Where is the moral imperative that allows us to become the judge and jury of a domestic murder in a country 6,000 miles from our shores?

Moral, constitutional, and legal arguments for a less aggressive foreign policy receives little attention in Washington, but the law of unintended consequences serves as a thorough teacher for the slow learners and the morally impaired.

Is Iraq not yet a headache for the proponents of the shock and awe policy? Are 2,000 lives lost not enough to get their attention? How many hundreds of billions of dollars must be drained from our economy before it is noticed? Is it still plausible that deficits do not matter? Is the apparent victory for Iran in the Shiite theocracy we have created in Iraq not yet seen as a disturbing consequence of the ill-fated Iraq regime change effort? When we have our way with the next election in Lebanon and Hezbollah becomes a governing party, what do we do then?

If our effort to destabilize Syria is no more successful than our efforts in Iraq, then what? If destabilizing Syria leads to the same in Iran, what are our options? If we cannot leave now, we will surely not leave then. We will be told we must stay to honor the fallen to prove the cause was just.

We should remember Ronald Reagan's admonition regarding this area of the world. Ronald Reagan reflected on Lebanon in his memoirs, describing the Middle East as a ``jungle'' and Middle Eastern politics as ``irrational.'' It forced him to rethink his policy in the region. It is time we do some rethinking as well.

This bill today does not help.

Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to be equally divided between the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), and I ask unanimous consent that they be allowed to control that time.

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