Wyden Fights, Romney Ducks Iran Investments

Over at Perrspectives, BlueOregon contributor Jon Perr takes apart Mitt Romney's hypocritical crusade against state pension fund investments in firms doing business with Iran. While both Romney's and Vice President Dick Cheney's former employers continue to have financial ties to the regime in Tehran, Oregon's own Ron Wyden is actually doing something about it:

In a high profile effort to bolster his credibility on national security, 2008 Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney last week called on New York to divest its pension fund of any holdings in firms doing with business with Iran. But as it turns out, it is Mitt Romney's former employer with the ties to Tehran. And as you'd expect, Dick Cheney's Halliburton is in deep as well...

...When it comes to disinvestment in Iran, Republicans like Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney shouldn't, to paraphrase then-candidate George W Bush, "take the high horse and then claim the low road." The task of decrying those who unwittingly provide aid and comfort to the Iranian regime is best left to those who are sincere about it, such as Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. In 2005, Wyden in reaction to Halliburton's cozy relationship proposed a bill to require the Treasury Department to publicly list both foreign firms doing business with Iran's energy interests as well as any U.S entities holding more than a $100,000 stake in them. And just last month, Wyden introduced the "Stop Arming Iran Act" to ensure that surplus parts and components from retired American F14 fighter jets are not auctioned off to arms dealers serving the government in Tehran.

Read the full story ("Romney, Cheney in Deep with Iran Investments") here.

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    Yeah, because we certainly want to further isolate and enrage Iran, instead of finding other ways to deal with Iran (though I agree that anything we can to kneecap Haliburton is a good thing). Wyden needs to stop beating in syncopation with the Iran war drums. Iran is not our enemy, though we seem to be hell-bent to make us their enemy (going back to the late 1940s).

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    I don't understand, lestatdelc... are you arguing that we should keep selling F-14 parts to Iran so that they'll be nice to us?

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)

    I already had reservations about Romney's candidacy, but after reading about his business ties to Iran, I feel that this man is unfit to be president of this country. I hope the MSM and alternative media really start pounding him on this issue. Romney is nothing but a hypocrite and a liar, and should be exposed as such.

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    The point is very simple, stop treating and acting like Iran is an enemy, which it isn't. We can begin by apologizing sincerely for having backed a coup d’état against the democratically elected Government of Iran in 1953, where we installed a puppet despotic tyrant on the throne of Iran on the par with Saddam, so we could loot the country for it oil... as a first step.

    We have done all we could for more than half a century to make Iran an enemy. We need to stop. We need to apologize and eat some crow and acknowledge reality. We need to stop rattling sabers against Iran. We need to stop behaving like warmonger arrogant assholes towards Iran, which we have done for more than 30 years now. We need to acknowledge and apologize for backing the use of WMDs against Iran which we looked the other way while we sold the Intel to Iraq to do it.

    Iran is not an enemy. We have met the enemy and the enemy is us Kari.

    There is ZERO reason to be belligerent towards Iran. And before anyone trots out AIPAC lead crap about it being the threat against Israel, look at the real history here about our belligerency towards Iranian self-determination for more than half a century. Were we have given the wink and a nod towards using WMDs against Iran, because they overthrew our installed despot and robbed the country blind.

    So when Ron Wyden spouts crap like:

    "It just defies common sense to be making this kind of equipment available to the Iranians with all that they have done that is against our interests,"

    ..and given the depth and scope of what the United States has done, for generations now against the legitimate interests of Iran, for venial and corrupt, morally bankrupt foreign policy towards said country, I have to step back and marvel at the sheer hypocrisy of it.

    BTW, the "spare parts" for Tomcats is a canard of the highest order. Iran has there own spare parts sources and industries that have kept them flying and firing Russian missiles for years now. It is stupid, pointless posturing by Wyden in order to sound like he is serious and tough on Iran, which is fraudulent chest-thumping (at best) and makes Wyden look like an idiot to anyone with any serious understanding of our history with Iran. But as the cliché goes, nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public, and Wyden pandering the neanderthal set in order to strike a political posture is certainly something I would hope our Democratic Senator was above, much less given credence here.

  • spicey (unverified)

    thanks for clarifying, lestatdelc, I sent a similar lte to the O and the Tribune this weekend. this madness has got to stop. enough war. isn't two enough?

  • JohnH (unverified)

    The justifications for invading Iraq proved false, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest the administration knew it. Yet they made the best public case they could, weak as it was. So there must have been an unstated reason we went to war, something the administration will never acknowledge. What could it be? And why aren't Democrats and the media digging it out?

    This question is really important, because the people who brought you the war in Iraq are doing it again, recycling false pretenses from 2002. Wyden has to be fully aware of this and has chosen to join the herd, even though most experts predict that the consequences will be even more disastrous than Iraq.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    I have to agree with lestatdelc.

    While the rest of the "candidates" are out shouting "me, me", my favorite General is working to stop the insane occupants of the White House from starting a war with Iran.

    Stop Iran War.com

    Cannot the world’s most powerful nation deign speak to the resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran? Can we not speak of the interests of others, work to establish a sustained dialogue, and seek to benefit the people of Iran and the region? Could not such a dialogue, properly conducted, begin a process that could, over time, help realign hardened attitudes and polarizing views within the region? And isn’t it easier to undertake such a dialogue now, before more die, and more martyrs are created to feed extremist passions?

    Although I disagree somewhat with the phrase "resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran?", when describing Iran, as lestatdelc stated they have every reason to be resentful.

    He is just back from the Jeddah Economic Forum. "Walking the walk."

    Speakers have been carefully chosen to focus on the subject and the Forum’s Academic Partner the London Business School will produce a Report on the conclusions and recommendations that come out of the sessions. The Report will be published later in the year.

    A remarkable platform of outstanding global Speakers has been assembled to speak and take part in the Panel / Audience moderated discussions.

    Among the Speakers so far announced are H.E. Minister Liu Jian Feng and high level representatives from China who will lead the Opening Session, joined by H.E. Hashim Yamani from KSA.

    The afternoon of Sunday February 25th will bring together former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, Baroness Symons, UK Chair of the Saudi British Business Council and the Vice Chairman of the Chevron Corporation, Peter Robertson.

    Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan will deliver a Keynote Speech and take part in a discussion with Moderator Alastair Stewart.

    The third session, on the morning of Monday 26th February, focuses on People and Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility.

    European Commissioner Peter Mandelson will give a Keynote Address and Peder Wallenberg from Carpe Vitam in Sweden, Mark Goyder, Director of Tomorrow’s Company in the UK, and Asya Al-Ashaikh of Tamkeen will also participate.

    Senior Government Officials will lead session four Monday afternoon on Economic Reform and Legal Structure.

    Prime Minister Erdogan from Turkey, Justice Minister Luc Frieden from Luxembourg, Trade Minister Emma Bonino from Italy and former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien are among the Speakers.

    The McKinsey Report will feature in the Tuesday morning session, February 27th entitled “Changing the Global Energy Paradigm”.

    International Experts will join Sue MacGregor of the BBC in assessing a new Global Vision for Energy.

    The final session of the Forum on Tuesday afternoon, February 27th, focusing on Privatisation, will feature, among other Speakers, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mohammed Abdul Razak, Khaled Almolhem, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines and London Business School Professor Zeger Degraeve.

    The Forum will conclude with a Keynote Address from Lech Walesa, former President of Poland.

  • Jon (unverified)


    A few follow up points.

    1. The Iranian Threat Like most commenters here, I'm worried about the Bush administration's drumbeat for war with Iran. As I've written before, we've been down this road of packaging dubious intelligence before:

    "Fool Me Once: Bush and Iran."

    That much said, the Iranian nuclear program is a major security challenge that the U.S. must address. But before triggering a conflict where Iran can inflict serious pain on U.S. interests through its proxies, we have to move to direct diplomatic talks.

    1. Clinton's Role in Trade Rules As the full piece over Perrspectives, it was Bill Clinton who put in place the prohibitions on trade and finance with Iran during the 1990's. (Bush later extended these.)

    "In 2004, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes detailed the Iranian business dealings of Cheney's former company, Halliburton. Despite the prohibitions signed into law by President Clinton with his 1995 executive order and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, Halliburton continued to reap the profits of business with Iran through its non-U.S. subsidiaries. While U.S. law bans virtually all commerce with the rogue nations, Halliburton was able to jump through its major loophole: the rules do not apply to any foreign or offshore subsidiary so long as it is run by non-Americans."

    1. U.S. - Iran Conflict in the 1990's It is worth remembering that the United States almost took military action against Iran in response to the Khobar Towers bombing. As Richard Clarke detailed in "Against All Enemies," the U.S. instead undertook a campaign of covert action against Iran rather than the full invasion which Bill Clinton was prepared to launch:

    "While the administration did probe the more moderate Iranian president Khatami elected in May 1997 regarding a thaw in relations, Clinton's preparation for covert action and war went forward.

    Clarke is unambiguous on this point. "In actuality," Clarke wrote (p. 117), "Clinton had been pursuing the opposite path to what Freeh imagined." Clarke noted (p. 118) "while Freeh had been pursuing the Saudis, the White House had been preparing for war." President Clinton was adamant that action against Tehran had to be overwhelming and total, fuming (p 118) that "I don't want any pissant half-measures." In July 1996, Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili presented a plan for Army and Marine divisions to invade and occupy Iran. Shalikashvili, Clarke concluded simply, "was talking about all-out war."

    As it turned out, an American invasion in response to terrorist provocations by the Iranian secret services was not necessary. During the same NSA sessions regarding Iran war planning, the Clinton team decided to proceed with a large covert action campaign against the Iranian secret services while preparing to move on to direct military confrontation if necessary. As Clarke noted (p. 129), the U.S. proceeded with the covert campaign. Iranian-sponsored attacks against American interests came to an end."

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Romney is a bozo and even my right-wing-nut friends (I have a few) view Romney as a splatted bug on the windshield of American politics.

    As to the other part of this post, I do not understand Wyden's suddenly hawk-ish position on Iran. I don't want Wyden giving bipartisan cover to the Bush-Cheney agenda of attacking Iran. I would prefer the US not sell arms to anybody, but that is not going to happen in my lifetime. As long as we continue to sell bombs and guns and land mines and airplanes and spare parts to every dictator with a few extra bucks, why does Wyden choose this particular moment to introduce a bill to stop selling spare parts to Iran? This looks like some sort of pro-Israel play by Wyden. As far as I know, even if Iran gets the bomb within the next four years, their delivery system is pretty much limited to strapping the device to the back of a camel, and nobody has identified a realistic threat to the mainland US.

  • Bert S, (unverified)

    Senator Wyden,

    Don't legitimize the efforts of you bellicose colleagues.

    Instead, put your energy into a Department of Peace HB 808.


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    Wyden hawkish on Iran? What the hell are you people talking about?

    From the Associated Press, February 12:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and other congressional Democrats said the Bush administration should move cautiously before accusing Iran of fomenting a campaign of violence against U.S. troops in Iraq. Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday "the administration is engaged in a drumbeat with Iran that is much like the drumbeat that they did with Iraq. We're going to insist on accountability."
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    To follow up my own rant up-thread, I would encourage everyone who is interested more in where I am coming form about what we need to to towards Iran, I would point them to the article in the Washington Post earlier this month by Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh, The Iran Option That Isn't on the Table:

    For too long, Washington has thought that a policy of coercion and sanctions applied to Iran would eventually yield a responsible and representative regime. Events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe suggest that containment eventually generates sufficient pressure to force autocratic elites to accommodate both international mandates and the aspirations of their restless constituents. Ironically, though, U.S. policy has buttressed the Iranian regime, which has justified its monopoly of power as a means of fending off external enemies and managing an economy under international duress. More than sanctions or threats of military retribution, Iran's integration into the global economy would impose standards and discipline on the recalcitrant theocracy. International investors and institutions such as the World Trade Organization are far more subversive, as they would demand the prerequisites of a democratic society -- transparency, the rule of law and decentralization -- as a price for their commerce. Paradoxically, to liberalize the theocratic state, the United States would do better to shelve its containment strategy and embark on a policy of unconditional dialogue and sanctions relief. A reduced American threat would deprive the hard-liners of the conflict they need to justify their concentration of power. In the meantime, as Iran became assimilated into the global economy, the regime's influence would inevitably yield to the private sector, with its demands for accountability and reform.

    Our rattling of sabers is working against the outcome we proclaim to want, a moderate open Iran with a civilian use only nuclear program. And given our disgusting and pathetic history in attacking Iran's right to self-determination, it is no surprise that we are viewed as a bully towards Iran (from their perspective) and that our actions have the effect of propping up that hard-liner regime. We earned that negative view.

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    The real issues around Iran are many and mostly outside of the debate in the press or the US Congress:

    While it is generally useful to limit the number of nations joining the H-Bomb of the Month Club, who is the Decider here? The US gummint? Where's our moral authority on this question? It is manifestly not the case that we are The Adults and get to decide who the other adults are.

    When I lived in Iran back in 78 and drank G and Ts at the local Navy officers club in Esfahan, no one was breaking a sweat regarding the ability of US pilots to beat Iranian pilots in a dogfight regardless of the state of repair of their respective fighter jets. Reagan sold 'em parts through the 80s but I doubt that their pilot training since then has made them any greater threat than they were 30 years ago.

    When you can convince the citizens of a nation that they are threatened externally, the most bellicose and warlike potential leaders get a huge boost. Just look at the 04 election in the US, or read Orwell. That's just human nature 101.

    As for a department of Peace, the whole idea is ridiculous. We have a state department that was specifically designed for diplomacy. Creating another department will not make the idiots in charge suddenly start to love peaceful conflict resolution.

    Glen Greenwald has an excellent post regarding the almost identical terminology used by the authoritarians in DC and Tehran. The differences between them are fewer than the similarities.

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    Wyden making a legitmate point about F-14 parts? What the hell are you talking about Kari?

    Wyden's BS about cutting off part's supplies via third party reselling is silly and meaningless Kari. Wyden is posturing to look like he is tough and serious about a hostile Iran that isn't, in order to offset his trying to be a speed-bump in the escalation of rhetoric of Bush's ranting about Iran. Ron Wyden on the floor of the Senate on January 25, 2007 introducing his bill:

    We know that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. We know that the Department of State has identified Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism. We know that the sale of spare parts for F-14s could make it more difficult to confront the nuclear weapons capability of Iran. And yet F-14 parts are still being sold by the DoD. Iran's F-14s, especially with the parts to get more of them airborne, greatly strengthen its ground war potential, harming our national and global security. Our country should be doing everything possible to deny the brutal regime in Tehran access to spare parts for their F-14 fleet.

    Wyden is full of shit.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Kari, I am sensitive to the argument that we should not sell our future combat opponents the ammunition to shoot back. My father had a huge scar on his neck courtesy of the Japanese army and my father always assumed that the Japanese obtained the metal for their mortar shells from some scrap iron dealer in the USA. Today's Chevrolet is tomorrow's bullet.

    But as to Wyden's bill, why NOW? If Wyden had been a life long opponent of the US arms export industry then I could and would understand, but I don't believe that is the case.

    Nobody is picking up on my serious (and hopefully non-racist) question. Is this a play by Wyden to gather support from the Israel lobby? God knows Hillary has been kissing up to them lately, and I suspected that perhaps Ron was joining the club. I hope not, as I am pro US and highly skeptical of the political motives of everybody else.

  • JohnH (unverified)

    At this point the Iranian nuclear weapon is nothing more than a hypothetical, future threat--a red herring. Iran has ample reason for wanting to develop nuclear power: they are running low on refined oil products and would like to their reduce consumption and redirect oil to exports.

    With extremely large energy reserves, Iran also has very good reasons for wanting defend itself against the increasingly voracious appetite of the world's number one oil guzzler--the United States. Nuclear deterrence provides a potent defense. Before that happens, however, there are a lot of other things that have to happen, none of them trivial from an engineering standpoint. They must figure out how to enrich uranium to the grade required for a bomb. They must get enough of it to build a bomb. They must build the bomb. They must weaponize it. And they have to build a delivery system. Once they have the bomb, you have to make a gigantic leap of faith, which the Bush administration often does, and assume that they would use it, thereby assuring their own annihilation. Nobody has ever used a nuke except the US, and we weren't risking nuclear retaliation when we did.

    The problem is not Iran. The problem is the United States, which wants a quisling regime that gives it hegemony over the oil and natural gas fields and pipeline routes from the Caspian.

    The US could get everything it claims to want by offering the existing government a security guarantee but refuses to consider it. It won't say what it really wants, preferring to create false pretenses for invasion. The unstated agenda is the real sticking point. Iraq redux.

    Wyden could do us all a favor by talking about the real problem, not the made up one.

  • marko (unverified)

    I wrote Wyden an email on Iran once and I got a letter back on Israel.

    No doubt an intern's mistake, but it would be nice to see Wyden be a little less cute. Now is a critical time for the relationship between Iran and the US.

    Fine to point out hyprocrisy, but beyond that, we need a new way of relating to Iran.

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)

    Wyden held a town hall meeting in Grants Pass last Friday, and I asked him about DeFazio's resolution requiring Bush to seek Congressional approval before attacking Iran. Wyden said he agreed with DeFazio, and I was stoked, because that was the only time that guy has ever answered any of my questions. I would have asked Wyden why they don't just impeach Bush already, but that would have been in bad taste......


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