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For as much focus as there is on Iran sanctions, it’s a shame there isn’t a better debate going on.
Congress is preparing to negotiate a final version of the petroleum embargo that passed both houses with overwhelming majorities a few months ago.  (Quick refresher on Congressional proceedings: The House and Senate both passed a sanctions bill, but the two bills included very different provisions.  So they both have to appoint a few members to what’s called a “Conference Committee” that is charged with negotiating a compromise version of the legislation which, after being approved once again by both chambers, will be sent to the President to be signed into law.)
This means that, for the moment, the sanctions bills are a relatively clean slate — provisions can be cut, inserted, re-worked, or even brand new ideas can be put in that never showed up in the original versions.
So this is an opportunity to make some real improvements — inserting important provisions that further human rights and support the Iranian people in a bill that is virtually guaranteed to be signed into law. The only down-side is: the main thrust of the bill is still really bad, punishing the Iranian people while letting the human rights abusers off scot-free.
But this is an opportunity that Congress would do well not to miss.  They can use this legislation to adopt some of the better ideas that have been kicking around almost instantly — things like waiving sanctions to allow Iranians to access Internet communications tools or anti-censorship programs; things like dropping the ban on sending direct humanitarian assistance to the Iranian people; or even ending the single-entry visa policy for Iranian students in the US.
None of this will solve the nuclear problem, nor will these ideas end human rights abuses in Iran.  But it will declare unambiguously that the United States is no longer interested in contributing to the suffering of ordinary Iranians.  It would take real, practical steps to make life a little easier for Iranians and a little harder for human rights abusers.
In short, it would demonstrate that the US stands with the Iranian people.

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