Yesterday the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to tighten sanctions on Iran. Of the 20 votes against the sanctions, only three were cast by Republicans. To anyone who has been keeping an eye on anti-interventionists in the Republican party it should not have come as a surprise that the three votes were cast by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Walter Jones (R-N.C.).
Click here to view the breakdown of the vote.
Massie has introduced legislation into the house blocking military aid being sent to Syria, and earlier this month he introduced an amendment to the House Defense Appropriations Act, which was unanimously passed, that blocks the American military being used in offensive operations in Egypt.
In an interview with Reason earlier this year Amash warned of intervention in Syria, rightly pointing out that increased invovlement may not make the situation any better:
Amash: Well, my mom is Syrian so I understand the situation a little bit. I think, of course, that Assad is a dictator. What his regime is doing is horrible. They are committing war crimes against the people on a daily basis. But the fact is that our national defense should be used for our defense here in the United States. And it's very dangerous if we get in the habit of deciding who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.
Because as bad as Assad is, you don't know who is going to come and replace him. They may be just as bad, and suddenly you've helped arm people who are going to commit the same atrocities and maybe come use [those arms] against the United States. You have to be careful when you get involved in this stuff. If there's a clear threat to the United States, then the president should come to Congress and get the authorization necessary.
Jones, who has changed his position on foreign policy since voting for the war in Iraq, is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity's advisory board, an educational organization that advocates for a non-interventionist foreign policy. Interestingly, another member of the institute's advisory board, Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.), voted for tightening sanctions.
Iran responded to the news of sanctions being tightened by warning that the move would "complicate" future negotiations regarding its nuclear program.
Sanctions can serve to foster anti-American sentiment among the population the U.S. government is trying to help. It should not be a surprise that self-described advocates of free trade and non-interventionism are against sanctions being used against Iran, a policy that is anti-free trade and pro-intervention.
It is a shame that most members of Congress have not viewed Ahmadinejad's departure as an opportunity to change its attitude towards Iran. Unfortunately, it looks like we should expect more of the same.