How to Stop War on Iran
This time the target is Iran, the country President Bush recently referred to, jokingly, as a possible cause of World War III. There are two rationales for a U.S. attack—that we need to attack before Iran develops nuclear weapons, and that Iran is killing Americans in Iraq. Both are as questionable as the rationales for invading Iraq.
The plan? Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh spells it out in The New Yorker. Since the U.S. can't handle another ground war, this assault is likely to be a massive bombing attack. Congress recently appropriated funds to retrofit B-2 Stealth bombers to handle the enormous 15-ton bunker buster bombs slated for use in Iran.
The possible effects are terrible to imagine: Huge numbers killed and maimed, retaliations on U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, an even more inflamed Middle East, possibly retaliatory strikes against Israel, disruption of oil markets already pushing $100 a barrel, and further shocks to the U.S. economy, which is suffering from sub-prime mortgage debacle.
The majority of Americans know that there is a better way; according to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, 73 percent support diplomatic or economic engagement with Iran, and just 18 percent support military action. Likewise, Iran has made overtures to the U.S. to settle the differences by talking.
But the Bush administration has been unresponsive to both, and Congress has been unwilling to stand up to the out-of-control administration. So now is the time for "we the people" to educate ourselves and speak loud and clear. But what can we do? The worldwide protests prior to the Iraq war did not deter the invasion.
How to Stop the War
In the Winter 2008 issue of YES! Magazine, veteran activists David Solnit and Aimee Allison make a critical strategic point. We cannot stop the war in Iraq or prevent war against Iran simply by appealing to the Bush administration. Instead, we have to put pressure on those who enable the war.
These enablers in this case include:
- The Media:
The media's unquestioning repetition of the administration's rationale for war in Iraq set the conditions for the invasion. Now, many in the media are doing it again. But unlike the president, media decision-makers care what we think. We can write to the news sources we use, asking them to be critical, balanced, and factual, and we can express our own views in letters to the editor, blogs, and by calling in to talk shows.
- The Congress:
Despite the anti-war mandate of the 2006 elections, Congress has done little to discourage the administration from attacking Iran. In fact, the Senate adopted the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which designates the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist” organization. But there are some signs of backbone. On the first of November, 30 members of the Senate sent a letter to the president stating that no authorization exists for a unilateral US attack on Iran. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) and Representative Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) have each proposed amendments that require the approval of Congress before the administration can launch an attack on Iran. You can have an influence on your representative by talking to them in person, if possible, or writing. Get your town or city to adopt a resolution for diplomacy, not war, with Iran. Ask candidates for president and Congress for their positions on Iran as well as Iraq. If they say “all options are on the table,” challenge them to justify the use of nuclear weapons in our volatile world. And remember, Congress doesn't need a veto-proof majority to take action—all they need to do is withhold funds for unwise policies.
- The Military:
A call has gone out to members of the military to refuse an order to bomb Iran—especially if it is an order to use nuclear bombs. Some believe there is already deep division within the military about administration plans for war. If you know people in the military, forward them this link.
- International law:
When the U.S. fails to abide by international law, we lay the groundwork for others to operate outside the law. If we want Iran to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we will have to also. The U.S., as a signer of the treaty, agreed to phase out our mammoth nuclear stockpile, by far the largest in the world. Instead, our government has been developing new nuclear weapons systems. But there's new momentum for getting serious about our obligations under the Treaty. Cold warriors George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, and Sam Nunn are leading the charge, calling for a world without nuclear weapons.
A unilateral attack on Iran is a violation of international law. And it is immoral. Are we to become like the “good Germans” who did nothing while the Holocaust was taking place in their name? Now is the time for each of us to act on the four strategic pressure points and stop this madness.
Read more on what's being planned in Iran and what to do about it.
Sarah van Gelder is the Executive Editor of YES! Magazine. She wrote this piece in Januray 2008.
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