Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kia Hamadanchy: "I Will Work To Put An End To A Foreign Policy Where War Is Always The First Resort"


Kia with his old boss, Senator Sherrod Brown

Kia Hamadanchy is a friend of mine running for Congress in Orange County's 45th Congressional district. The incumbent is Trump rubber stamp Mimi Walters who lives on the ocean in Dana Rohrabacher's district. Although Obama lost the district in 2008 and 2012, Hillary beat Trump there, 49.8% to 44.4%. The PVI went from as forbidding R+7 to a much blue-friendlier R+3. The district stretches from the Anaheim Hills and Villa Park in the north, through Lemon Heights, Tustin and Irvine down to Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Coco De Caza. Kia was born and raised in Irvine, the district's biggest city. His parents came to Orange County from Iran. Kia, as his website delineates, became legal counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under the leadership of education and disability rights champion Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Kia worked to expose the exploitation of students by the for-profit college industry. After Senator Harkin’s retirement, Kia joined the staff of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), where he advocated for a higher minimum wage, equal pay for men and women, and other measures to reduce income inequality and ensure that every American is treated with the respect and dignity that he or she deserves.

Goal ThermometerIn 1969 and again in 1972, when I was still just a kid, traveling around the world in a VW van, I spent a great deal of time in Iran which I remember writing at the time was the most pro-American country I had ever visited-- more so that France, Germany or England! When Kia and I met last year for a meal, we talked about the changes that have taken place-- and continue to take place-- in that country and I found his perspective not just refreshing, but enlightening... and just what Congress and those setting foreign policy in our country so desperately need. This week, I asked him to write a guest post on the turmoil gripping Iran today. If you like how he deals with the subject and think he would make a better member of Congress than Mimi Walters, please consider clicking on the ActBlue California 2018 thermometer on the right and contributing to his grassroots campaign.

Reflections On The Recent Protests In Iran
-by Kia Hamadanchy

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen protests break out in Iran that have been misunderstood by Donald Trump and many of those in Congress. These protests embody the legitimate economic and political grievances of the people of Iran. The ruling regime is beset by corruption and has badly mismanaged the country’s economy, lining their own pockets at a time when inflation, unemployment, and economic inequality are at dangerously high levels.

Donald Trump, Congresswoman Mimi Walters, and others have expressed their solidarity and support for the Iranian people. These sentiments ring hollow. If they really did care about the Iranian people they would not have put into place a Muslim ban with the express purpose of banning Iranians from coming to the United States. Just as galling are expressions of solidarity and support from individuals like Bill Kristol, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Tom Cotton. These are people who in some cases have spent decades advocating for a policy of regime change and war with Iran. Many of these same people helped lead us into the Iraq War under false pretenses-- something I consider to be the biggest foreign policy blunder in my lifetime.

No one knows more about the repression of the Iranian government than Iranian Americans. Many have experienced it firsthand and want genuine solidarity and support for human rights. What they do not want is a war and sanctions that punish ordinary, everyday Iranians. These issues are being debated in Congress and there is not a single Iranian American serving there to be a part of the conversation. I am running to change that.

Being Iranian American is an important part of my heritage and who I am. It is an important part of why I decided to run for Congress in 2018. But it is not why I went into public service and it is not why I went to work for Tom Harkin and Sherrod Brown in the US Senate. I did those things because I care about making this country better for each and every American, no matter their name, their religion, or where their parents were born. A part of that discussion involves a rethink of how we conduct our foreign policy and what is truly in the interest of hardworking families across this country.

That’s why, if elected to Congress, I will work to put an end to a foreign policy where war is always the first resort. I will always choose diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution. America cannot afford another trillion dollar war that increases instability and puts Americans in danger. It is for these reasons that I strongly support upholding the Iranian nuclear deal.

Much of the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal has been rooted in misunderstanding and misconceptions. Growing up in the U.S. as the child of two Iranian immigrants, I have always been struck by the lack of understanding about Iran and the Iranian people in our political system. I often joke that the average member of Congress could not tell the difference between Iran and Iraq on a map, and that’s probably true.

In 2008, I was drawn to Barack Obama’s candidacy for president because of his promise of actually trying to talk to Iran, as opposed to continually threatening them with war. He was willing to call out the sheer ridiculousness of the idea that not talking to a country was some sort of punishment. As he said at the time, the Soviet Union once had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at us and yet we never hesitated to talk to them. Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who at the time threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran.

Barack Obama’s promise culminated in the Iran nuclear deal which represents the best path to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and averting another disastrous war in the Middle East. This is not just my opinion, but that of the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. It is absolutely critical and in the best interest of the United States that the deal remains in place.

On January 12th, Donald Trump grudgingly decided that he would renew the waivers of the sanction that were agreed upon in the deal, but he told our European allies that they have to agree to rewrite the deal in 120 days or that he will kill it. These demands are reckless and unacceptable.

What our political system has failed to realize time and time again that if you really want to see a change in Iran, the number one thing you can do is remove the ability of the regime to blame the United States for all of Iran’s problems. That is why the nuclear deal is so important. It keeps the spotlight on the government and its leadership and prevents the United States and its allies from being cast as the villains.  It raised people’s expectations of a better life and made it harder to blame the failures of economy on the United States.

There is probably no country in the entire Middle East whose people are more favorably disposed to the United States. We may have problems with the Iranian regime, but our problems are not with the people of Iran, who would like nothing more than to have a better relationship with the United States and the American people. But what they do not want is war or regime change. They have undergone the hardships of the 1979 revolution and they have survived an eight-year long war with Iraq. The Iranian people-- like Americans-- understand the perils of war and yearn for peace.

The Iranian people deserve to have a future of their own making and the freedom to determine the direction that they want their country to go. And it is not Donald Trump or anyone else’s place to make that decision for them. While we should recognize that this is a regime with an appalling human rights record and always condemn all acts of violence and violations of human rights in the strongest possible terms, we should also recognize that if and when the Iranian people ever decide to rise up against their government, it will not be because of what is being said by Donald Trump and those in Washington. That is why we need young and diverse leaders in Congress who can make this case, and make it clear that this new approach is in the national security interests of the United States. And that is exactly what I plan to do from the moment that I get sworn in as a member of Congress in January 2019.

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At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kia, how are you going to do that when the party to which you have chosen to associate favors war as a first resort?

And what are your desires wrt foreign policy of/by/for corporations? How you gonna fix Honduras and Ukraine after obamanation and Clinton broke them?

How you gonna do anything at all when your entire party exists to do what you say you don't want?

Maybe you need to find another party?


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