PORTLAND, OR – The June 13, 2019 suspected attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf were promptly followed by Secretary of State Pompeo’s declaration that the U.S. government is holding Iran responsible for the attacks. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif called the incidents suspicious and urged for regional dialog to reduce the tensions.
The War Prevention Initiative urges all parties involved to exercise restraint and to exclusively pursue diplomatic solutions amid the rising tensions. The current trajectory toward a war of choice is dangerous and one that both National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo are pursuing. The tanker incidents must not lead to war. The consequences would be disastrous in terms of casualties on all sides, further destabilization of the Middle East, the increased risk of nuclear proliferation and war, and the waste of trillions of dollars. First, war declared by the administration without congressional approval is unconstitutional. Second, diplomatic solutions should be pursued at all costs. Long-term, often messy diplomacy—even if it comes with setbacks—is always preferable to war, which in this case would be unwinnable and catastrophic.
War Prevention Initiative Executive Director Patrick Hiller stated: “These escalated tensions all take place within the context of the U.S. unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal. On my recent trip to Iran, I learned that the Iranian people expected to see improvements in their lives from the deal. They are well aware of their own government’s problematic behavior, but the last thing they want is the help of the U.S. to ‘get back their freedom’. One thing that the highly educated Iranian people know for sure is that Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton don’t care about their freedom or suffering.” Outside pressure strengthens hardliners in Iran and leads to Iranians to rally around the flag. Without external pressure, Iranians can work toward social change on their own time and on their own terms.
“As conflict analysts, we are constantly mapping and tracking conflict trajectories. In what we call the conflict escalation and de-escalation curve, we are just short of war, and some of the highest government officials have made up their mind about it” says Patrick Hiller. “While people should be weary of relying on politicians to fix things, we need to recognize that Congress has the authority to declare war. It is therefore critical to make stopping war with Iran an urgent priority”.
Congress should be urged to support the JCPOA, oppose destructive sanctions, support genuine diplomacy, and exercise its authority to oppose a war of choice with Iran.