Tuesday, September 25, 2007

California Lays down the Gauntlet to Iran

Governor Schwarzenegger is set to sign a bill that forbids any California pension plans from investing in companies that invest in Iran.
The bill, passed earlier this month by the California Legislature, would ban the
nation's two largest public pension funds _ the California Public Employees
Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System _ from investing in
companies that work on defense or nuclear projects or are involved in developing
Iranian petroleum or natural gas resources.
"I look forward to signing
legislation to divest from Iran to take an equally powerful stand against
terrorism," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Monday. The signing could come
this week, said spokesman Aaron McLear.
CalPERS estimated the ban would
require it to divest an estimated $2 billion from 10 companies."

As I wrote earlier, I believe that Iran is ripe to fall from within, peacefully, and one of my three pillars is to starve Iran of the economic investment that the country relies on. The state of California has laid down the gauntlet, either enjoy our money or Iran's. If I am the CEO of any company currently investing in Iran, the choice is simple. Furthermore, similary measures are passing through the legislatures of Florida, Michigan and Texas. It isn't enough. Investment in Iran is now a matter of national security. The group Divest Terror lists the dirty dozen, the twelve biggest companies currently investing in Iran.

The worst culprit, in my opinion, is BNP Paribas (this should sound familiar if you ever watch the French Open as they advertise prominently in the background of all the tennis courts at the French Open). They are in fact the only ex pat bank that currently has a branch in Tehran. Here is how the center describes their activities

In July 2002, BNP Paribas, along with Germany's Commerzbank AG, led Iran's first
sovereign Eurobond offering since the state's 1979 revolution. Originally
scheduled for Euro 500 million, high demand for the instruments led BNP Paribas
to increase the offering to a total of Euro 625 million. In December 2002,
a second offering of Euro 375 million, also led by BNP Paribas and Commerzbank,
brought the total raised on behalf of the Iranian government to over Euro 1
The company also is involved in the financing of projects and
export facilities in Iran including an aromatics plant and a number of energy
and infrastructure-related deals. In total, the company is involved in
credit lines totaling more than $1 billion to increase Iranian trade and

I am a free market, free trade, small government conservative, and so some have questioned how this fits into my view of the world. To me this is not an issue of economics but rather geopolitics and war. Investing in Iran is investing in blood money. As long as Iran kills our soldiers in Iraq, threatens Israel and the U.S., starts proxy wars in the Middle East, and develops nuclear weapons, they are our enemy in the GWOT. We do not provide financial assistance to our enemies in war time, and we do not provide financial assistance to any company that does either.

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