Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

We Can’t be Naïve About Iran

January 15, 2016
Representative Roby's Weekly Column

By now you’ve heard about the 10 U.S. Navy sailors who were detained by Iran after their boats mistakenly veered into Iranian waters. Thankfully, they have been released unharmed and our boats were returned. But, on the front pages of most every major newspaper and on the nightly news, Americans saw the images of our sailors kneeling, hands behind their head being detained by Iranian authorities. People around the world saw those images too, and Iran didn’t miss a golden opportunity to use this incident for propaganda purposes on their state-run television. It was disturbing, and not something we should simply ignore or dismiss, especially given Iran’s past actions.

This is just the latest with Iran. Last month they ramped up their ballistic missile program. Earlier this month they brazenly fired rockets within a few miles of an American aircraft carrier. And let’s not forget the fact that Iran continues to hold at least four Americans against their will. This is the kind of behavior you expect to see from a hostile nation, not a partner in peace.

That’s why I’m bewildered at President Obama’s attempt to sidestep Congress and pursue sanctions relief for Iran. He and Secretary of State John Kerry continue to ignore and make excuses for Iran’s actions to protect their legacy nuclear deal.

Even though the incident with the sailors happened just hours before the State of the Union address, President Obama declined to so much as mention it in his speech. There are probably many reasons for that, but there’s no doubt it would have altered his narrative. If you watched, you heard the president talk idealistically about diplomatic relations with nations like Iran, describing a national security landscape that does not sound anything like the dangerous times we’re living in.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin recently opined that the president is “out to lunch” on Iran, ignoring the nation’s hostile tendencies to protect his legacy nuclear deal. Granting the Iranians as much as $100 billion in sanctions relief is a bad idea, and I fear it will only embolden them to continue testing our resolve.

We cannot afford to be naïve when it comes to Iran. I’m working to build support for legislation that would prevent President Obama from irresponsibly and unilaterally lifting sanctions on Iran. We could vote on the bill before the end of January, and I hope Congress can send a strong bi-partisan message that it’s time to hold Iran accountable for its actions.