Open Letter To Barack Obama, President Elect
By James A. Lucas
I am writing this as someone who joins Americans and others across this planet in their elation over your victory.
Many of us want to join with you in working to solve the challenges that you, our nation and the world face. One of them is the decision you will make about Iran. According to Carol Giacomo’s article “ New Beltway Debate: What to Do About Iran” in the November 3, 2008 issue of the New York Times, a range of military and economic options against Iran are being considered by your new administration.
Because of the magnitude and possible repercussions of the decision you will ultimately make I encourage you to seek out a range of informed opinions on this subject to supplement the guidance you receive from your advisors.
One such source could be the current and past members of the upper echelons of our military who opposed the plans for such an attack under the Bush administration, some of whom resigned in protest or threatened to do so. In addition, available to you are the opinions of many groups that have carried on a campaign to prevent the Bush administration from attacking Iran.
I also recommend that you check into the various statements and actions that the Bush administration has made in order to psych up the American public for an attack on Iran. In many respects it resembles the brazen campaign of disinformation that emanated from the White House to garner support for the War in Iraq.
You have offered hope to world by describing yourself as a “citizen of the world. “Your appreciation of the opinions of other peoples offers hope that you will strive for an international perspective on this issue.
Hopefully, your decisions about Iran will reflect the sentiments that you expressed in your 2002 speech at the anti-war rally in Chicago when you said:
“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arms of al-Qaeda.”
After six years the fanning of the flames has become a tsunami. Your prediction was correct. Over 4,000 Americans and over a million Iraqis have died, and anger and frustration have increased as a result. Are we and the people of the world safer now than six years ago? Of course not!
It is possible that your advisors may recommend that you gradually tighten the screws until Iran cries Uncle. This might start with additional sanctions and air strikes of varying intensity, scope and duration. This may be a tempting course of action, since it may be somewhat palatable to the American public, because there would be virtually no loss of American lives. However, even supposedly benign sanctions can be a form of war as shown by the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died under the sanctions imposed on Iraq during the 1990s.
On the other hand the devastation and death suffered by Iraqis has been well known to the nations in that part of the world, and an attack on Iran would further exacerbate the problems you predicted in 2002 and further diminish the credibility of our nation.
There are a number of other considerations that should be kept in mind.
The main allegation against Iran is that Iran is planning to develop a nuclear power capability that it will use to make nuclear weapons. But the Iranian program is legal. If we can coexist in the world not only with many other nations that have nuclear weapons, including Israel which has 200-300, but also with many nations which have nuclear power, why should we be so fearful of the Iranians?
The primary reason for this fear is that over the last two years it has been fallaciously reported innumerable times in the press that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech that “Israel must be wiped off the map.” This was an inaccurate translation of his statement that “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” Of course many political entities in the history of world have also been in power only temporarily.
Another fact to keep in mind is that the real power in Iran rests not with their president but with their religious leader.
Positive steps are needed to resolve the issues in the Middle East and one of them would be an agreement to establish a nuclear free zone in that region.
On this day, Veterans’ Day, the specter of the horrors unleashed by your predecessor in the Oval Office haunts me. That was my main reason for supporting a change in the presidency.