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Treason: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."
Keep that definition in mind when you read Brian Beutler's report of the US Chamber of Commerce sending a message to Iran saying they oppose all US economic sanctions against them.
Head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian underlined on Wednesday that the US and European companies and economic institutions are completely opposed to imposing sanctions against Iran.
"The economic atmosphere of the US and Europe is opposed to sanctions against Iran," Nahavandian told FNA.
Stressing that the American people are not interested in imposing sanctions against Tehran, he said that the US Chamber of Commerce along with seven other institutions recently sent a statement to Iran and underlined the US private sector's opposition to such embargoes.
But wait, there's more:
A Chamber spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm the report, but it's compatible with the group's other, recent efforts. Early last year, the Chamber, along with eight other business-friendly groups, wrote to then-National Economic Council director Larry Summers and then-National Security Advisor Jim Jones opposing Iran sanctions legislation. "The undersigned business organizations are profoundly concerned that current legislative proposals to expand U.S. sanctions on Iran...would significantly undermine the U.S. national interest," the groups wrote. "While we agree that preventing Iran from developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons is an urgent U.S. national security objective, the unilateral, extraterritorial, and overly broad approach of these bills would undercut rather than advance this critical objective."
Looking at these actions in light of the definition of treason I cited earlier, it certainly appears as though certain corporate "citizens" (since they have had personhood bestowed upon them), are subverting the Obama administration's efforts to a) slow or prevent nuclear proliferation, since nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran are a clear threat to our national security; and b) in so doing, are helping a foreign government to seriously injure the parent nation.
The Chamber has argued in public and in communication to its membership that the lobbying it undertook to weaken Iran sanctions was absolutely necessary to keep corporate "persons" from doing business with other companies in the Middle East. All fine and well, but it still does not excuse them writing to the Iranian government in direct opposition to current administration policies.
These Chamber actions, when looked at from a distance and in concert with disclosures in the WikiLeaks cables about their activities in foreign countries, suggest an organization loyal to wealth-building without regard to this nation's priorities, policies, or laws. Sanctions are one of the few ways of putting pressure on an opposing government without violence or aggression. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the idea of Iran as a nuclear power is something anyone in this country or the Middle East -- Israel or otherwise -- wants. It would be the equivalent of handing the launch mechanism in this country to Sarah Palin.
In President Obama's speech to the Chamber today, he said this:
But I want to be clear: even as we make America the best place on earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.
I somehow have the sense that Tom Donohue was smirking behind his coffee when he said that. The rest of the speech was subtle pressure for these companies to quit sitting on their $2 trillion in cash and start investing in jobs not only to stimulate the economy but because it's patriotic.
Yes, we'll have disagreements; yes we will see things differently at times. But we are all Americans. And that spirit of patriotism, that sense of mutual regard and common obligation has carried us through times far harder than these.
Clearly the president was not advised that when corporations are persons in this country, patriotism is not part of their charter for existing here. Tom Donohue has seen to that.
Postscript: The fabulous Jon Perr reminds that Dick Cheney and 2012-hopeful Mitt Romney have significant interests in companies involved in Iranian investment deals. Cheney's Halliburton ties are the gift that just keeps giving.
Update: The US Chamber has denied any letter sent to Iran, saying they only sent a letter to the White House.
The Chamber of Commerce is denying a report by the Fars News Agency in Iran suggesting that they, along with several other business groups, sent a statement to the head the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines underlining their oppositions to U.S. sanctions.
"We did not send a letter to Iran, we sent a letter to the White House," said J.P. Fielder, spokesman for the U.S. Chamber.
Fielder didn't deny that the Chamber has contact with its counterpart in Iran, but that the Chamber sent no communication matching this description to Mohammad Nahavandian, who heads that group. "Not whatsoever," Fielder said.