January 9, 2020
Below is a Letter to Members of Congress with an initial group of signatories; there are many more that have been gathered but not listed here. The letter was drafted by myself (Richard Falk) in collaboration with Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg.
If you wish to add your signature, please send your name and affiliation to Vida Samiian, firstname.lastname@example.org who helped compose the original text, and now with the logistics of the initiative. If you agree with the argument, please do join us by adding your name.
The Letter was composed prior to the Iranian missile attacks on two American military bases in Iraq and before Trump made his formal statement the following day, January 8th.
Although his statement is being read in many ways, including the suggestion that Trump’s intention was to step back from the brink of a devastating war, I listened to Trump from my own perspective and with an attempt to hear his words as if I were an Iranian living in Iran:
I found the statement belligerent, and formulated in an imperialist or hegemonic language, avoiding a diplomatic sequel, and instead resuming the ‘maximum pressure’ approach involving threats and further intensified sanctions and other coercive moves that will bring additional suffering to the Iranian people.
Perhaps, the only hopeful element was the suggestion that Trump would seek greater NATO involvement coupled with the assertion of American energy independence. This may possibly have been a geopolitical prelude to partial disengagement in the region by the United States, but more likely was telling European countries that they should bear a greater part of the economic burden of upholding Western interests in the region since they remain dependent on Middle Eastern energy to meet their needs, while the United States no longer does.
In any event, the Trump moves would undoubtedly be viewed as provocative, unacceptable, and aggressive by Iranians.
Among the most distasteful aspects of Trump’s speech was his castigation of Barack Obama’s laudable attempt to negotiate a tension-reducing agreement with Iran on its nuclear program that had the support of France, UK, as well as China, Russia, and Germany. To deride such a major breakthrough for a better future for the region, while perpetuating a war-mongering approach underscores why it continues to be so urgent for Congress to act.
Open letter to member of the U.S. Congress
January 7, 2019
To Members of Congress:
The unlawful and provocative assassination of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, has already given rise to an escalating spiral of lethal events. The greatest risks are to stumble escalating into a devastating war in the Middle East with grave consequences for the peoples of Iran and Iraq and likely across the region.
Such a war would have disastrous effects for this country, for the region and the world. It is certain to do further harm to the reputation of the United States, which already is perceived in much of the world as an irresponsible and criminal political actor in the region, using military force in ways that have made already difficult situations catastrophic by taking various dangerous military, economic and quasi-diplomatic initiatives misleadingly presented as “maximum pressure.”
It is imperative for the well-being of our country, and indeed the world, that the Congress of the United States fulfill its most solemn constitutional responsibility, and impose effective restraints on the war-making actions of this impeached president.
This is a moment when partisan politics should be put aside, not only for the sake of national interests but for the benefit of humanity – we should realize that these unilateral actions by the United States have put the entire world at risk. It is also a moment when Republicans as well as Democrats must stand up for a sane foreign policy, and for diplomacy and peace instead of aggression and war, and fulfill their duties as Members of Congress.
The Iranian people have endured decades of economic warfare and covert forms of intervention by the US and its allies. Since the revolution of 1979 in Iran and the end of a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Iran’s autocratic leader, the Shah, the US has imposed numerous sanctions on Iran under various guises, threatened it with war and inflicted pain and suffering on its people.
What is desperately needed with respect to Iran is not any further recourse to coercive diplomacy based on escalating threats, crippling sanctions, and tit-for-tat military actions. What is urgently needed is an immediate shift to restorative diplomacy based on mutual respect for international and domestic law, with the objective of peace, stability, and cooperation.
From all that we now know, General Soleimani had come to Iraq without stealth on a commercial plane. He came to Iraq on a diplomatic peacemaking mission at the invitation of the Baghdad Government, and with a meeting scheduled on the following day with the Prime Minister that was part of an ongoing effort to seek a lessening of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In reaction to major violations of its sovereignty, the Iraqi Parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops from their country. In place of what seemed a promising regional initiative, the assassination of General Soleimani has resulted in an intensification of conflict, further massive suffering, and the likelihood of dangerous escalation.
We call on Congress to act with urgency to stem this slide toward war and regional chaos.
We urge you to consider imposing ironclad restraints on the authority of the President to make any further use of international force without a clear and definite authorization by the U.S. Congress, which itself should respect the relevant prohibitions of international law and the provisions and procedures of the UN Charter.
A background article also explaining what must now be done by Congress
President Trump’s speech in response to the Iranian attack on U.S. bases in Iraq the day before.