FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Don’t Ruin the New Year with War on Iran

by CHRIS GEOVANIS

US military veterans and peace activists closed out 2014 with an appeal to one of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent members: Don’t ruin the New Year with a new war on Iran.

Dozens of U.S. military vets and their allies gathered in the bitter cold and biting wind on the last day of the year outside the downtown Chicago office of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to push back against Kirk’s controversial new bill targeting Iran. Vets charge that Kirk’s bill — S. 1881 — could undermine the recent easing of tensions between the U.S. and Iran and increase the threat of war by thwarting ongoing diplomatic initiatives. Vets say Kirk should instead be supporting current opportunities to strike a diplomatic solution to the long-simmering and dangerous international dispute with Iran over its nuclear program.

The U.S. and its diplomatic partners are currently negotiating with Iran over the terms of its nuclear program, within the framework of a tentative agreement to slowly lift sanctions as progress in negotiations are made. But on December 19th, Kirk introduced a punitive new bill which has the strong support of AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — that clotheslines diplomacy in favor of hardliners in Congress and srael, who have long angled for a military assault on Iran. Kirk and his cosponsor, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), are expected to advance the provocative bill to the next legislative stage on January 6.

Tuesday’s action was the military veterans’ first public volley in their effort to discourage Kirk and his compatriots, with plans underway to step up the campaign with actions that include a follow-up call-in day to Kirk starting today and continuing on Monday, January 6 to senators across the nation.

“We believe this bill will destroy negotiations with Iran and make war with Iran possible,” said Vietnam military veteran Barry Romo. “We need to respect the international community and the American public, who overwhelmingly want a peaceful settlement with Iran.”

Kirk’s sabre-rattling on Iran is not the first time he’s drawn the ire of veterans and progressives, who have roundly pasted him for actions that range from inflating his military service record to promoting unconstitutional schemes for mass incarceration.

Kirk’s warmongering Iran bill includes a provision that states that “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel….”

Military veterans charge that that language sets the stage for U.S. support — including the use of military force — for a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran, a prospect long feared in the region. The bill, they argue, is essentially a potential march to war at a time when diplomatic solutions are at their most promising stage in years.

The veterans and peace activists are urging Kirk to forgo pushing the bill and undermining the diplomatic initiatives of the Obama administration and its partners, and to make a commitment instead to respect the international community, the diplomatic process and the American public, who overwhelmingly want peace with Iran.

The stakes, say vets, are enormously high.

“We need to let the agreed settlement work — and respect the diplomatic endeavors of the Obama administration and our allies,” said Alejandro Villatoro, a U.S. military veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. “Veterans know the consequences of war, the price that veterans have to pay and also the suffering that civilians endure in war zones. We should let the diplomacy of the Obama administration and its partners work.”

The military veterans who gathered on December 31 included representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace — all seasoned soldiers who have seen the horrors of war first-hand. They had choice words for Illinois’ junior senator on Tuesday: “Senator Kirk, don’t be a jerk.” Their key demands to Kirk — “Negotiations Not Sanctions” and “Diplomacy not War” — have been embraced by partner peace and civic projects that include the Civilian Soldier Alliance, which supports GI resistance within the ranks; United Electrical Workers/Western Region, which has been active in organizing low-wage workers in the Midwest; and the American Friends Service Committee, which has been active locally and nationally in the peace movement.

They expect support for their campaign against S. 1881 to grow in the coming days.

Chris Geovanis is a Chicago media activist, advocacy journalist and member of the HammerHard MediaWorks collective. You can reach her via Twitter @heavyseas, via her Facebook page or at chrisgeovanis(at)gmail.com.

Chris Geovanis is a Chicago media activist, advocacy journalist and member of the HammerHard MediaWorks collective. You can reach her via Twitter @heavyseas, via her Facebook page or at chrisgeovanis(at)gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail