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Bipartisan Congressional attempts to impose new sanctions on Iran just when President Obama's diplomatic efforts are part of a paradigmatic breakthrough in U.S.-Iranian relations, and in Iran's engagement with the rest of the world, is not just reckless and dangerous, it is despicable and unconscionable. There is no excuse for it. If the goal is both national and international best interests, there is no rationale for it. If this effort succeeds, history likely will look back on it as among the worst foreign policy blunders ever, right up there with the disasters of July 1914.

It's easy to criticize the brutality of the current Iranian regime, but that brutality is the direct consequence of August 19, 1953, when the Eisenhower Administration, at the behest of the British government and the British oil company now known as BP, destroyed Iran's fledgling secular democracy, and imposed a brutal dictatorship. Brutality begets brutality, and anyone who thinks a brutalized people will simply shake off its collective trauma need only look to the lessons of the French and Russian Revolutions, or the ongoing turmoil in modern Egypt and Libya. More to the point, it's not as if the United States demands high moral standards of its economic and political allies around the globe, and given, for example, that ugly history of the U.S. in Iran, it's not as if the United States can claim any moral high ground of its own. But President Obama reached out toward Iran, when he acknowledged the U.S. outrage of 1953, and his diplomatic efforts have met a partner in the new reformist Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. With Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany also on board with the new nuclear arms agreement, efforts to scuttle it are nothing less than fomenting war.

Diplomacy is working. The threat of war with Iran has been decreasing. The threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power has been decreasing. Any person with any interest in peace, in Iran continuing on the path toward moderation and constructive engagement with the world's economic and political powers, and in potentially taking a huge step toward defusing the entire Middle East tinderbox, has to be encouraged by the historic first steps included in the deal between Iran and the world's six great powers. Anyone attempting to undermine it must have their intelligence, morality, and sense of basic human decency questioned. This is that big. This is that important. Because if new sanctions are imposed, and the Iranian hardliners are empowered by Rouhani's being insulted or rejected by the United States, and Iran resumes work on its nuclear weapons program, the consequences are unthinkable. For Iran, it could mean another generation lost to extremism. For Iran's neighbors, it could mean a nuclear armed extremist Iran. For the United States, it could mean horrendous choices between watching the development of a nuclear armed extremist Iran or going to war to prevent it. For the Iranian people, so many of whom so eagerly desire democracy and moderation and reengagement with the world, it could mean the same hellish carnage with which neighboring Iraq is still suffering.

If the U.S. Congress imposes new sanctions on Iran, thus scuttling the diplomatic breakthrough forged by President Obama, President Rouhani, and Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, the consequences a disaster of historic scale. If the nuclear talks collapse, and Iranian reform is destroyed, and the risk of a nuclear armed Iran again rises, some form of war will become almost inevitable. And many innocent people will die. And everyone who helped impose the sanctions will be personally responsible for all of it. Attempts to impose sanctions, and thus scuttle the nuclear deal, are in effect, if not explicit intent, nothing less than warmongering. No Democrat should go near such an effort. Any Democrats who do deserve not only to have their ambitions for higher political office destroyed, they also deserve to have their current political careers ended.

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