Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qa’ida, “…we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.” So declared a top Obama administration official in 2011. Seven years later, Iran continues to arm America’s enemies, spread violence across the Middle East, and pose a direct threat to Americans serving in the region.
It is this unchanged state of affairs that makes Senator Tammy Baldwin’s support for reduced sanctions against Iran so irresponsible. During her career in the House of Representatives, Baldwin repeatedly voted against tougher sanctions for Iran. With her sights set on the U.S. Senate she briefly flip-flopped in 2012, supporting a measure to increase sanctions. Safely elected, she reverted back to her dovish stance, backing the Obama administration’s 2015 deal with Iran.
Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement lifted numerous sanctions in exchange for Iran temporarily suspending its nuclear weapons program and getting rid of most (but not all) of its weapons grade nuclear material. Verification was allowed only if Iran was given a month’s warning ahead of inspections.
Since 1984 every presidential administration has declared Iran a leading state sponsor of terrorism – rarely has a Middle East foreign policy issue been the subject of such bipartisan agreement.
Current reports show that Iran is sending weapons and supplies to the Taliban in western Afghanistan. Any proposed cease-fire between the Afghan government and the Taliban will be impossible as long as Iran insists on denying the war-torn country the peace it seeks.
For years Iran has harbored and financed al Qaeda. Despite significant religious differences, Iran has found the perpetrators of 9/11 to be a useful partner, providing them with the personnel, funding and operating space they need to perpetuate their barbaric ideology. Iran also backs Hamas and Hezbollah, two terror groups that routinely carry out attacks on our ally Israel.
Supporting sanctions relief for Iran means supporting a regime that has been directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Israelis and Syrians. The cost of a human life is difficult to measure, but Baldwin’s softness on Iran has netted her over $200,000 in bundled contributions from J Street, a group that backs the failed Iran deal. During her 2012 campaign Baldwin received over $60,000 in contributions from the Council for a Livable World, which opposes tough sanctions on Iran.
Tough sanctions are a vital tool that allow the U.S. to pressure hostile regimes without jumping to a military option. Baldwin’s opposition to tough sanctions against a clearly hostile power limits the nation’s ability to bring all instruments of power to bear on the Iranian problem. This makes a military option more probable in the future. Such irresponsible posturing that places politics ahead of smart policy makes Baldwin unworthy of a second Senate term.
Brian Sikma is a policy advisor to state Sen. Duey Stroebel and an officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. The opinions here are his own and do not reflect any official opinions of his employer or the Department of Defense.