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Open Letter to President Donald Trump

President Trump,

I am writing to you in the name of many peace-loving people from all over the world, who are worried about our future and that of our children. A future that your dangerous policies put in terrifying danger. Attacking Iran will mean retaliatory actions that will cause havoc not only in Iran but throughout the region.

We see with increasing concern your efforts to start a military confrontation with Iran based on false premises. Such a move would only benefit the arms makers and would leave a trail of destruction the world has seen few times before. Although you are the most powerful man in the world, Sir, you don’t have the right to threaten world peace for reasons that are difficult to understand.

Granted, Iran has supported groups in other countries and has armed them with sophisticated weapons. However, Iran has not invaded any other country in more than a century. As a contrast, the U.S. has a record of supporting tyrannical regimes all over the world, among them in Iran itself, and oftentimes supported coups that destroyed democracy.

Brett Wilkins, an editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal has written recently an enlightening article on US-Iran relations. “Iran isn’t without serious faults. However, these pale in comparison to those of the US, which has –and has used—nuclear weapons, staged or supported numerous coups, attacked half a dozen Middle Eastern countries already this century and nearly encircled Iran with military bases. Iran has no nuclear weapons, no bases within 10,000 kilometers of the United States and has never directly attacked the US or, of course, overthrow its government. Who is the real aggressor here?” writes Wilkins.

In 1984, Iran presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council condemning Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against Iran, based on the Geneva Protocol of 1925. The U.S. instructed its delegate at the U.N. to lobby friendly representatives to support a motion to abstain on the vote on the use of chemical weapons by Iraq. Can we be surprised that Iranians harbor deep resentment against the U.S.?

As this is happening with Iran, another war is taking place inside the U.S. It is a war against immigrants and their children, where they are treated to subhuman conditions. How can one justify children being separated from their parents and kept in steel cages? Or women being mistreated by border patrol officials while their children are being taken away, some of whom they will never see again?

What is rarely considered is that most of those immigrants and their children come from countries where the U.S. has supported their most murderous regimes and actively destroyed their democratic forms of government. This may be one of the reasons –albeit not the only one– why these countries cannot evolve truly democratic and efficient forms of government. What happens after the U.S. contributes to destroying a country’s social fabric?

Think, Sir, how the U.S. has supported the military regimes in Guatemala that led to the murder of tens of thousands of indigenous people. Or the U.S. support for the Somoza family regime in Nicaragua. Remember when President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked in 1939 that Nicaraguan President Anastasio “Tacho” Somoza García “was a son of a bitch but he is our son of a bitch.”

And the later support for the infamous “Contras” in that country, in the process subverting the U.S. own laws. Or the support for the murderous regimes in El Salvador that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, among them priests and nuns working for the poor in the country. I have the privilege to have met Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Spanish Jesuit priest, one of those assassinated in El Salvador by the death squads of a government lavishly supported by the U.S. Never before have I met somebody who irradiated peace like him. And those mentioned above are just but a few examples.

These people, Sir, the poor of those countries where the U.S. has interfered with their democratic governments and supported instead criminal regimes are the ones who are coming to our borders. And while these things were happening, the US has shown steadfast support for the criminal Saudi Arabian regime, whose nationals were most of those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11.

Your policies, Sir, are putting the world at great risk. We know when wars start, but we cannot predict when or how they will end. In his book, Thank God for the Atom Bomb writer Paul Fussell quotes a poem by Eric Bogle. In that poem, “No Man’s Land,” a young person sits by the grave of a nineteen-year-old who was killed in the First World War and thus addresses him:

Did you really believe that this war would end wars?

Well, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,

The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain.

For, William McBride, it all happened again,

And again, and again, and again, and again.

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Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

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