To The Editor
There is a legacy of goodwill between the people of Iran and the people of the U.S. that should be reclaimed in the search for a constructive approach to Iran.
Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness (LIPW) has been urging U. S. policymakers to reject calls for military action and indiscriminate sanctions and to establish a channel for communications with Iran to prevent the risks of war. LIPW is a grassroots network of approximately 1,000 Lancaster County Christian laity and clergy in pursuit of a secure, sustainable and just world.
LIPW, with Friends Committee on National Legislation, is deeply concerned over continued hostilities against Iran. We urge policymakers, in concert with other nations, to press for sustained, direct, and comprehensive negotiations with Iran in order to end hostilities and build a viable peace in the region, concerned for the security of all. We urge lasting solutions to regional conflict and the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program. The present course of U. S. action policy, beholden to Israel’s current leadership and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is not in the interests of the US, Israel or the wider Middle East.
Recent efforts by members of congress to prevent any kind of diplomatic contact with Iran are counterproductive. Interests of the US and the international community and the wellbeing of all countries in the region should not be sacrificed to hostile Iranian, Israeli or American rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear capability. The hostile climate perpetuated by the US will only hasten, not restrain, nuclear threats in the region.
There is not a monolithic viewpoint in Israel, nor in the American Jewish community, on the approach to Iran. The English language paper, Haaretz Nov. 3, 2011, reporting on a Haaretz-Dialog poll found that Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, with 41 percent supporting such a strike and 39 percent opposed. The remaining 20 percent said they were undecided.
On September 20, 2011, Outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen called for establishing a channel for U.S.-Iranian communication. He warned that without communications channels, there will be “extremely dangerous” outcomes: “We haven’t had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran so we don’t understand each other. If something happens it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right, that there will be miscalculations which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”
Business leaders, scholars, former Secretaries of State and and foreign policy experts like Ambassador Thomas Pickering, with his team of Experts are calling on U. S. policymakers to keep Iran within the international community and use available lines of diplomatic communication as former head of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has recommended.
Dr. Trita Parsi, in his new book, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran, argues that diplomacy was prematurely abandoned. Obama’s intention was genuine, but his vision for diplomacy was opposed by U. S. Congress, Israel, France and Saudi Arabia.
In summary, we urge readers to speak out in favor of diplomacy with Iran. The U. S. could do much more to work for the common good of all nations of the region, including Iran and Turkey as well as Israel and Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The isolation of Iran only increases Iran’s hostile stance. There is a legacy of goodwill between the people of Iran and the U. S. that is lost totally in the current hostile climate.
Adopted by action of the Board, Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness
February, 2012, Lancaster, Pa.