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Frank visits campus

By John Krisch

Section: News

April 28, 2006

U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (D) visited Brandeis Monday for a short discussion on Iran and nuclear proliferation. The visit was sponsored by BIPAC and the Brandeis Democrats.

Frank declared that there were no good options to face the severity of the situation in Iran, due to the facts that the military is overextended in Afghanistan and Iraq and that this administration has lost its political capital.

[The administration] cant get [other countries] to do anything to reform, if they threaten overthrowing the government, Frank stated. He explained that both the military option and the sanctions option do not seem feasible. Military force would most likely do more harm than good, he said.

Frank admitted that sanctions had worked to weaken Saddam Husseins military power, but he noted that China and Russia would need to sign on in order for an effective UN Security Council sanction in this case. But, for whatever reason, China and Russia show a reluctance to approve sanctions. Frank stated that he didnt understand the logic of Russias position against sanctions, as the Russians have the most to lose if Iran were to pass off nuclear technology to terrorists (possibly Chechnya).

Frank is no amateur politician;

he has been in the U.S. Congress since 1981 as the Democratic representative of the 4th District, representing the area that covers Newton and Brookline. During the question-and-answer session, he perched himself to the side of the podium and even shot back a question at one student who voiced his dissatisfaction with Franks lack of alternative solutions.

Barney Frank is a bulldog, said Matthew Kravitz 06, who attended the speech. More importantly, he is a responsible public official. He understands the severity of the situation [in Iran] and the challenges we must overcome to ensure global and national security.

Frank also touched on other issues during the Q&A, including NSA wiretapping, the possibility of Arab democracies, and the current U.S. administration. He explained how wiretapping is a necessity for law enforcement, but also that there needs to be a check, and he believes a warrant is not too significant of a barrier.

Regarding the possibility of a democratic Middle East, envisioned by Thomas Friedman 75 and others, Frank wasnt as optimistic. He commented that democratic elections in Arab countries have so far produced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in the Palestinian Territories.

Frank does not believe the Bush administration should shoulder all the blame for the current international turmoil. Its certainly a dilemma, and the administration is doing the best they can, given the situation, he said. But Frank also noted that the administration was responsible for the current situation, where foreign allies to the U.S. are hard to come by.

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