On Tuesday June 10, a group of citizens associated with 35 different organizations came together in a coalition to prove just how easy it would be for President Bush to talk to Iran. It's as simple as picking up the phone.
The groups involved have very different objectives and embrace philosophies that couldn't be more disparate. They include conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Libertarians. But they all agree on one central issue: it is always infinitely better to talk to other countries than to go to war with them, especially when war might be avoided through direct communication.
Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, and Libertarian presidential nominee and former Congressman Bob Barr, along with many others joined together in the Cannon Congressional Office Building to use "red phones" to talk to people in Iran. Meanwhile, supporters of the 35 organizations making up the coalition, "Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran," made calls to Congress to tell leaders in Washington that they want dialogue - not war. They stressed three major points:
One of the organizations, a non-partisan advocate of government reform called DownsizeDC, asked recipients of its newsletter to participate, citing one extremely compelling reason:
"Strong rumors are circulating in Washington that President Bush intends to attack Iran, after the election, when this action can no longer harm Republican candidates. It may be just a rumor, but given the president's past willingness to go his own way, no matter what other people think, and given the continued risk of an attack by Israel against Iran, the rumors have the ring of truth."
They went on to say that Congress has the power to prevent such criminal Presidential imprudence, but are "afraid they'll appear soft. And they are soft. They lack the courage to stand up to the administration's fear mongering."
Michael D. Ostrolenk, President of the American Conservative Defense Alliance sees no reason to continue to look at Iran as an enemy instead of working to make them an ally:
“What we need to do is to remove all non-military sanctions as well as all restrictions on NGO's and individual citizens engaging with Iranians. We also need to continue to engage them diplomatically on issues relating to Iraq and Afghanistan. I also would suggest removing as much naval and other military forces from their borders and coast lines as possible as both a sign of good will and in order to limit the possibility of an accidental war. Iran as an ally is not fantasy but could be a reality especially with their changing demographics, cultural shift from dysfunctional pre-modern ideas to modern one's and the continued failures of their command and control economy run by the religious and technocratic elite."
Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) says that every possible measure must be taken to block any kind of U.S. military action that would provoke yet another war:
"It’s essential that we ensure that the same President who manipulated his way into Iraq isn’t allowed to double down and get us involved in another bloody quagmire in Iran. The key to ending the stalemate with Iran is robust and vigorous diplomacy, not another military engagement that will further threaten our national security, and destabilize the region."
President Bush and Senator John McCain have tried to say that Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama's pledge to talk with Iran is simply "appeasement." They have taken that position despite the fact that numerous members of the current administration and military command agree with Obama. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has himself said that we should talk to Iran. Many other conservative voices are speaking out.
"War is never a good option. There is no worse option in dealing with Iran. It is time for Washington to start talking with Tehran," says Doug Bandow, the Robert A. Taft Fellow with the American Conservative Defense Alliance and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
"Instead of talking about war, the U.S. government should talk to Iran. At the same time, Congress must reassert its constitutional authority and not give the President another blank check to wage another costly war,” says Bob Barr, former Republican Congressman from Georgia and the Libertarian Party’s 2009 Presidential nominee.