Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) speaking on the House floor yesterday on HCR 362:
Mr. Speaker, I want to speak today on Resolution 362 that is circulating in the House and its impact on policy in the Middle East.
As a result of Resolution 362 and its tightening of sanctions on Iran in a more broader way, will that have a positive impact on America’s policy in the Middle East? Will it have a positive impact on the politics in the Middle East? Will it have a positive impact on Iran as far as the conflict between our two nations is concerned?
I will say, in my judgment, Mr. Speaker, that Resolution 362 will exacerbate, make much more difficult, the problems in the Middle East, the relationship of Iran with its neighbors in the Middle East, and the relationship of Iran with the United States, and the relationship of Iran with the country of Israel. Let me try to explain why.
If we look at the Middle East right now in a very objective fashion, what is going on in the Middle East right now?
The geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East right now is fractured. We are focusing on the conflict in Iraq. We need as a Nation to focus objectively on the Palestinian-Israeli question, to resolve that issue, to reduce the number of recruits for al Qaeda and the Taliban.
We need to understand that Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country, does not want Iraq, a Shia country, to become an Iranian satellite.
We need to understand that Iran, who lost more men dead in a conflict with Iraq just a few years ago than we lost in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined, wants to have some influence in the Middle East and certainly with what will go on in Iraq.
What will influence the direction the Middle East will take in the decades to come? There is violent conflict there. There is political conflict there. There is mistrust in the Middle East.
Let me use a quote from Sam Rayburn, former Speaker of the House.
“Any mule can kick a barn door down, but it takes carpenters to rebuild that door and that barn.”
We need carpenters. We need diplomats. More conflict, more restrictions, more sanctions is going to further exacerbate the problem in the Middle East and its relationship with the country of Iran.
One other quick comment. Iran is not an Arab country. Iran is a Persian nation that speaks Farsi, that does not speak Arabic. It is a nation of Shias with their own brand of Islam.
Knowledge and an informed policy in the Middle East, a surge of diplomacy, can make a key difference. Let me go back and express some precedence of the past about diplomacy and where it worked.
When Nikita Khrushchev said he was going to bury the United States, what was Eisenhower’s response? He invited Nikita Khrushchev to the United States to tour the Nation, and it began to lessen the conflict between the two countries.
What did President Kennedy do when there were deployable nuclear weapons in Cuba aimed at the United States? He negotiated his way out of that conflict and saved a catastrophe.
What did Nixon do after Mao Zedong said it would be worth half the population of China being destroyed if we could destroy the capitalists in America? What did Nixon do? He had a dialogue. He went to China.
What happened when we did not have a dialogue, some understanding of Ho Chi Minh? A million people died.
Today in the Middle East we certainly need a strong military, we need a strong intelligence. But the aspect that is missing in the Middle East is what Eisenhower said was so critical in foreign policy; that is, consensus and dialogue.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of Members in this house that have started a long time ago, a couple of years, beginning a dialogue with the Iranians. Just last fall, 58 Members of this House on both sides of the aisle signed a letter to the parliament in Iran asking for a parliamentary exchange; 58 Members of Republicans and Democrats. That letter was hand-delivered by some of us in Lisbon to Iranian parliamentarians. They took it to Iran. And what is their response to us? They want a dialogue. There are members of the Iranian parliament that want a dialogue. Consensus and dialogue.
We need more carpenters. Vote against Resolution 362.