WASHINGTON — Addressing an audience Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) showed signs of the increasing partisan tension on Iran policy. Sherman, the second-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with a reputation as an Iran hawk, maneuvered the delicate balancing act of supporting Democratic President Barack Obama and appeasing the concerns of his pro-Israel audience.
An overwhelming majority of AIPAC attendees described Iran as Israel’s primary security concern, even stumping the threat posed by the Islamic State. Though support for military action against Iran was mixed, there was resounding agreement that negotiations between Iran and the six negotiating powers, known as the P5+1, were bound to result in a “bad deal” that would inevitably allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Sherman told AIPAC attendees that the current sanctions regime against Iran should have been enacted over a decade ago. “Now,” he said, “We have a choice of terrible options.” When Iran and the P5+1 moved to extend an interim nuclear deal for six months last November, Sherman described “a disturbing pattern” of “provid[ing] the Iranian regime too much breathing room,” and called for more sanctions immediately.
What would a “good deal” look like? More inspections and safeguards? Should the Iranians be allowed to enrich uranium at any level?
“I don’t know enough about that to be able to answer you,” Hofkin admitted. “But the way the world works is that the best way to get a bully not to attack is to get them to understand that if he does, if he goes too far, you’re going to take his head off.”