Hillary Clinton was either misinformed or economical with the truth in Wednesday night's debate when she responded to my challenge to her by saying the Senate's resolution earlier in the day on Iran was designed to permit economic sanctions against individual members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
She and her staff should know the United Nations Security Council on March 24 already slapped economic sanctions on individual Guard Members. Like the Red Army in China, Iran allows Guard commanders to own and run private companies. Security Council Resolution 1747, which the United States voted for, froze financial assets held outside Iran on the seven military commanders, including General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr and six other admirals and generals.
I know of no law dictating the State Department must first designate individuals or groups as terrorists before sanctions can be imposed on them. Dozens of countries have been under U.S. unilateral sanctions that are not designated as terrorist. The U.S. first imposed sanctions on Iran in 1979 over the hostages, not terrorism. The only possible purpose of the Senate resolution asking the State Department to designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization is to set it up for military attack in George Bush's war on terror.
As Virginia senator Jim Webb valiantly said in the Senate, the United States has never before designated the military services of a sovereign state a terrorist group. Indeed, though there is international dispute over the definition of terrorism, there is little disagreement on the legal point that terrorists are non-state actors who target civilians, i.e., never members of a government. Governments can be guilty of war crimes, but not terrorism. And the resolution talks about attacks on American troops, not civilians.
The hypocrisy of Hillary and the 75 other senators who called for more unilateral sanctions on Iran, was exposed Monday by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who said, according to Spiegel Magazine, that American companies are violating existing U.S. sanctions by surreptitiously doing business with Iran through front companies in Dubai.
Joe Lieberman wrote the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq that was passed with Democratic support on October 11, 2002. Lieberman's new resolution setting up a Bush-Cheney invasion of Iran passed by 76 to 22 with Democratic backing on September 26, 2007. These are two dates that will live in infamy in the 21st century. Led by Senator Clinton, it was another sad day for the Senate and for Senate Democrats, who were elected to the majority in November in order to end a war, not start a new one.
Mike Gravel is a former US Senator from Alaska and is currently running for the Democratic Nomination for President.