Mark Kirk's Fuzzy Iran Logic

Congressmen would be wise to stand with Iranian people by removing unintentional US burdens


Mark Kirk's Fuzzy Iran Logic
by jamal.abdi

On February 19, Mark Kirk, a Republican Congressman from Illinois running for a promotion to the US Senate, delivered a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to share his views on Iran policy. While initial reports didn't indicate anything much new was said by the Representative, who has been calling for a gasoline "quarantine" on Iranians since 2007, audio from the event has just been released that reveals some troubling insights into Kirk's gasoline embargo rationale.

During the Q&A, Kirk brushed aside concerns that a gasoline embargo will hurt innocent Iranians and stated that, in fact, the US should punish innocent Iranians as a means to engineer anti-government protests in Iran:

Q: The oil embargo or quarantine sounds like a very plausible alternative ... why the opposition from the administration?

Kirk: Um, in a discussion I recently had with administrative officials they said we would feel worried that it would hurt the Iranian people... (laughs)

But it's that actual pain that I think has to be imposed, in my view, a gasoline quarantine would immediately trigger anti-American demonstrations in downtown Tehran, organized by the regime.

But over time the regime fears large groups of people gathering because as you know a mob can turn very quickly.

When you hear that you can't get enough gasoline that day, and you read in the state controlled paper that it's Barack Obama's fault, you'll be mad at Barack Obama that week.

But as your factory closed down and as the refrigerator starts to run out, the naturally tendency of any people is turn to their own leader and say "fix this".

I cannot feed a nuclear weapon to my family. It is more important to feed my family than eat nuclear weapons. And that's the dilemma you want to put them in.

So, the Kirk Plan, in a nutshell, is to cut off gasoline for Iranians and triggering anti-American protests in Iran. Sounds bad so far. But then, eventually, Kirk says, the "mobs" will turn and Iranians will suddenly start protesting against their own government.

I'm not sure if Kirk has been following Iran for the past nine months, but somebody better tell him that Iranians are already standing up to their government. And they didn't even need Mark Kirk to engineer their discontent.

But while the Iranian government has displayed increasing aptitude for repressing and silencing its opponents, the last thing Iranian activists and human rights defenders who are putting their lives on the line need is for a wannabe Senator to intervene on behalf of his own protest movement--not one contesting the legitimacy of the Iranian government or demanding rights for the Iranian people, but one in which Iranians beg their government to give in to US demands so that they are able to heat their homes or drive their cars.

Early on in his speech, Kirk also remarks that it was he who first introduced legation to impose a gasoline embargo on Iran back in 2007, not Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, who is the sponsor of the current bill moving through Congress. Kirk explains that Democratic Leadership came to him saying "we want to move your bill, we don't want to exactly give you credit for it" and asked if they could replace his name on the legislation with Chairman Berman's. Kirk claims that he magnanimously replied "I so believe in this bill" that he would be willing to let a Chairman from the opposing party steal the credit.

Unfortunately, Mark Kirk is going to have to play second fiddle yet again, not to a Democratic colleague, but to the Iranian government. Because if anyone deserves credit for inciting Iranians to take to the streets to protest Iran's government, it's the Iranian government. And if anybody deserves credit for standing up to the government, it's not a Congressman on the campaign trail in Chicago, it's the Iranian people actually suffering for their cause in the streets of Iran.

Congressmen like Mark Kirk would be wise to, instead of rehashing tired schemes to mobilize an already mobilized Iranian population, consider ways that Congress can actually stand with the Iranian people by removing unintentional US burdens in place against them, not adding new, intentional burdens to further punish them.

If Kirk's gasoline embargo does pass, however, he can certainly share credit with his colleagues for punishing innocent Iranians, helping undermine the indigenous opposition in Iran, and providing Iran's government with some much needed assistance in their propaganda efforts.

Jamal Abdi is the Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council


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Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Varjavand jan

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on

Despite gaining momentum, tougher sanctions are not only going to be ineffective but also facing new obstacles because more members of the UN security council, Brazil, Turkey, and Lebanon, are refusing to go along with the U. S. demand for tougher new sections. Read this report from WSJ\

I am sorry but this is just simply not true. They are very effective. Specially when enforced by powerful nations. Turkey is beholden to the US and will have to fall in line. Lebanon frankly is not big enough to matter. In any event the issue is not nations is businesses. If US is able to pressure businesses to boycott Iran then it is effective. US is already punishing non American companies for doing business with Iran. So the position of their governments is irrelevant. 

People need to be realistic and see what is happening. IRI is not viable for many reasons. One is that they are a military dictatorship and fear their own people. Other that the West is making sure it is not viable. So one way or other IRI will fail.

We need to be prepared to pick up the pieces. Instead of coming up with reasons why it will survive we should plan what to do next. Once it is gone there will be problems to deal with. Lets prepare for them


Despite gaining momentum,

by varjavand on

Despite gaining momentum, tougher sanctions are not only going to be ineffective but also facing new obstacles because more members of the UN security council, Brazil, Turkey, and Lebanon, are refusing to go along with the U. S. demand for tougher new sections. Read this report from WSJ






Newsflash for self-centered Iranians

by marzutra on

The purpose of sanctions is not to promote human rights or democracy. The purpose is to punish Iran for it's nuclear weapon program.


Gates and Ahmadi meet in Kabul?

by vildemose on


Another Non Factor politician

by yaboo_yahoo on

He thinks he gets to set US foreign policy. 

Go back to your goat farm, buddy!


Kirk Traveled to Israel 9 times paid by pro-Israeli Group

by rezashirazi on

Kirk, Mark (R, Illinois District 10 )  Traveled to Israel 9 times total paid $64,503.09  form pro-Israeli Group for his cost. that's the resaon, he is the Israeli puppet working for them.   

Ali9 Akbar

I don't get involved in Politics

by Ali9 Akbar on

too many hypocrites and the honest politician is an oxymoron ....

And China has a long memory of "western" interference which dates way back to the era when Marco Polo was exploring the "silk Route"..

Iran itself has not done itself any favors by blocking any reform within it's own ranks... the only thing that is keeping an UNEASY Peace between Russia China and the USA is the International Space station...

I have always argued [on other forums]that the TRILLIONS of dollars WASTED ON WAR PROFITEERING could have been better spent funding the USA's Space Program but unfortunately 3 gunmen stopped that dream in Dallas Texas in 1963...

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

A few replies

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on

Ali Akbar9:

I agree with much of what you say. But I don't agree with the reasons. For example I don't think any of this has anything to do with human rights. The West is worried about Iranian power not human rights. They want to make sure to keep Iran (not IRI) weak. Now IRI is giving them the excuse to do so. That is why I keep complaining about the big mouth IRI and its groupies have. But West is not and never was interested in human rights.

China will support any Iranian government over US. They equate it with their own experience of Western interference. They are also very  suspicious of separatism. They rather have one big united Iran with a strong central government. The nature of that government is not of the highest priority to them.


You are being very gracious in your post. In addition I thought I was only Democrat :-) It is good to know you are on my side !!



Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Oil Embargo

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


This immediately reminded me of the 70's oil embargo. The idea was the same except Arabs trying to do it to the West. It failed. The power equation then was different. But the reasons for failure were the same: disunity on the oil producers and reaction in the West. Instead of giving in Westerners tightened their belts and dug in their heels. 

Will this happen in Iran? It is anybody's guess. Republicans in the US are not the brightest bulbs. Therefore I won't put much credibility on this one.

I put my money on Iranian led changes in Iran. We may have to wait until Khamenei goes either naturally or by force. Who knows...

Ali9 Akbar

the reason why sanctions failed is ...

by Ali9 Akbar on

because there is LACK OF UNITY among the nations of the Earth...

[1]Too many nations are too dependent on oil for their economies...

[2]Too many nations prefer to IGNORE human rights if it interferes with BUSINESS

[3]Too many nations are making profits by selling weaponry to Iran to CRUSH the rebellion within Iran


I could name other reasons but it all ready has been voiced by others within other threads...


It seems to me that the

by varjavand on

It seems to me that the increasing military power of IRI in the region has created an insurmountable dilemma for American politicians, Congressman Kirk included. Evidently, his gasoline sanction proposal, if it is enacted, will be as ineffective as already existing sanctions. Based on his answers to one of the questions raised, it seems that he believes that his proposal is not any more successful than the ones currently in place. However, he is in active campaign trail and needs the publicity and the need to go with the flow.
The fact that we, Iranians, me included, are democrats by default and have a common biasness toward republicans should not give us a reason to deviate from the norms of decency in expression and resort to name calling, as one of the commenters did. Mark Kirk is a member of the US Congress and certainly deserves our respect whether we agree with his viewpoint or not. I have found him articulate, spontaneous, and very much able to connect the dots. His view on Iran is not any different from his democratic rival.


If this is the same Mark Kirk then:

by Bavafa on

What else can one expect from such bone head? It is amazing how republicans manage to out do themselves but electing dumb and even dumber candidate as their elected people.

First Regan and then we had Dan Quayle… then as they were not dumb enough they went for GWB. But of course lets not forget the mighty Sara Palin.

Its just get better and better… or shall we say dumber and dumber

As for Mark Kirk, "Most nemone khalvar ast"



is this the same Mark Kirk?

by Fred on

Is this the same U.S. Congressman who has publicly accused NIAC lobby of being a “regime sympathizer” lobbying to have democracy funding for Iran to be cut? Here is the VOA video link: