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Meeting with Senator Casey's Foreign Relations Staffers

July 3, 2008
Delaware River Area CODEPINK
Philadelphia, PA

We spoke with Jofi and his assistant Ashley, about 3 basic issues: the issue of US forces in Iraq; H Con Res 362 on Iran; and sanctions against Iran.

S.O.F.A. (Status of Forces Agreement of US military forces in Iraq), how it will be implemented:

Congress is trying to put its foot down over allowing this agreement to go forth "as is", because of the way it will hamper and tie the hands of the next administration. Supposedly there is even Republican division over this issue. July 31st is the “deadline” for working on some kind of resolution that will not allow Bush to enter into this agreement without congressional approval. There's also talk about only implementing something that would be temporary until the new administration takes office.

One huge concern is the immunity from prosecution that the military contractors have now, which the Iraqis also want to see changed. The other concern (for us) is of course, any type of prolonged influence on Iraq.

Iran Resolution: We tried to impress upon Senator Casey's staffers that the language in this resolution is much too strong towards sanctions and "pressure" as well as the possible threatening actions like a blockade. We reminded Jofi that the floor statement that Casey made in the fall, spoke more encouragingly about diplomacy with regards to discussions and negotiations. We repeatedly spoke about how sanctions and "pressure" only affect the common people and NOT the government officials. Ultimately sanctions cause anger, and that people HATE the government that is imposing these measures. We also tried to stress that using diplomatic policy for negotiations and meetings would be far more effective than this saber rattling is for combating terrorism.

They both told us we should be very concerned that Iran has nuclear capability, and we told him we were not concerned in the way they are, that many countries including the USA have the capability; we’ve used WMDs in the past, etc. We used most of the usual arguments; mentioning that Israel has nuclear weapons, and we treat them very differently. Their argument was that "they" [Israel] didn't sign the treaty AND that “they” are a "democracy". At this point we pointed out that we move the players around in the Middle East like a game, sometimes this or that country is an ally and sometimes they are not---and that we have been playing this very dangerous game for far too long, creating an atmosphere that will surely encourage recruitment in terrorist organizations. Who, quite frankly don't need nuclear weapons to do their work.

We ended by reiterating that the sanctions kill people and do not effect governments, and that the only true way to stop war and terrorist acts is to treat people fairly and peacefully.

Continued Efforts:
We have made great progress with regards to our relationship with Senator Casey and his staff, and we will continue to press them on these and other issues. We represent several Philadelphia County peace and justice groups when we go to lobby and would love more Pennsylvanians to join us when we go to the Senator’s Constituent Breakfasts called "Breakfast with Bob". More planned soon!