Both of New Jersey’s U.S. senators spoke out strongly on March 19 on two problematic issues in the Middle East.
Ten years after the start of the war in Iraq, Sen. Robert Menendez urged that its mistakes not be repeated as the world confronts the nuclear threat from Iran.
Noting that he cast an unpopular vote against the Iraq invasion, Menendez emphasized that “sanctions work” and military actions are not to be taken lightly.
“Deftly employed, sanctions can change behavior short of war and erode an adversary’s capabilities,” Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in the March 19 edition of www.TheHill.com. “We have put in place what is arguably the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed on any nation. These sanctions are forcing Iran back to the negotiating table, slowing Iran’s drive to a bomb, and we hope changing Tehran’s nuclear calculus.”
Military action, meanwhile, should not be based on “best-case scenarios.”
If the United States and its allies do take military action against Iran, Menendez said, “we must weigh the risks alongside our interests. We must have a realistic exit strategy. We must have strong support from the American people. And, above all, we must exhaust all other options before contemplating the use of force.”
While calling evidence of Iraq’s WMD capabilities a decade ago “flimsy at best,” Menendez said, “Iran is a different story.”
“The International Atomic Energy Agency has thoroughly documented Iran’s dangerous and growing nuclear program,” he wrote. “The centrifuges are spinning, and the window for a diplomatic solution is closing. As President Obama has made clear, all options are on the table.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, meanwhile, joined 13 other senators in a strong denunciation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt for its opposition to strengthening legal rights for women.
In a March 19 letter, the senators asked Secretary of State John Kerry to urge Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and other members of the United Nations to renounce “repugnant” statements by the Muslim Brotherhood.
On March 14 the Brotherhood’s political wing attacked “End Violence against Women,” a proclamation issued by the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
The document calls for protection of reproductive rights, equality for gays and lesbians, and granting women inheritance rights and the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, and giving judges — not husbands — the power to grant divorces.
The Brotherhood said the points in the UN declaration “undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family.”
Lautenberg and his fellow legislators called the Brotherhood’s opposition to the document “repugnant and contrary to the leadership Egypt has traditionally shown in the advancement of human rights. We should be steadfast in our condemnation of those that attempt to justify or prevaricate over any form of violence against women,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, and 13 Democrats.