A Simple Idea to Influence Iran
Wall Street Journal / Gerald F. Seib

Throughout the months since the election, the question perplexing U.S. policy makers has been whether and how America might encourage the reform movement in Iran, without being so heavy-handed as to make the protesters appear to be foreign stooges. That was the question a bipartisan group of senators and their staff members began brooding over during the summer.

"One day we began brainstorming: What could we do?" recalls Richard Fontaine, who at the time was an aide to Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and now is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. "Something's happening in Iran, and we don't quite know where it's going to end up."

The initial impulse of most observers, Mr. Fontaine notes, was to impose economic sanctions on Iran's government to register displeasure at its suppression of democracy protesters. But the U.S. already has imposed broad economic sanctions, and there were bills in the hopper to do more. "So we started thinking what can you do on the positive side, not to just bombard Iran with messages from America, but to facilitate the kind of remarkable political discussion the world had seen after these protests broke out," Mr. Fontaine says. "Not as a regime-change thing, but in supporting the intrinsic values the U.S. stands up for."

The fruit of those discussions was the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act -- or Voice -- a piece of legislation that, at its core, aut... >>>

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