David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'
What a bizarre circumstance this is. The irrational Iranians are behaving too reasonably.
The unmovable Iranians seem to be compromising too readily.
This past weekend, the United States and other major nations finally spoke with Iran. In 10 hours of talks (or 5 with translations), minus a lunch break, Iran agreed to a framework for ensuring that its nuclear program is only used for civilian purposes.
If this keeps up, the whole basis for war could be lost. And it's all the result of having finally spent a few hours talking with Iran. The obvious solution is to cut off the talks, issue ultimatums, lower the threshold for what justifies war, and impose more deadly sanctions than ever. And that's just what some of our misrepresentatives in Congress are about to try.
Although, the last time Iran tried to agree to ship its uranium out of the country for refinement, talks were conveniently sabotaged by an explosion in Iran. So, there are a variety of methods for sabotaging paths to peace.
But is this really so bizarre? Or does peace often threaten to get in the way of the best laid plans to pretend to be reluctantly forced into war as a "last resort"?
Let's not forget that the inspections in Iraq were working in 2003, the inspectors believed they could give more conclusive findings if allowed a little more time, and President Bush pulled the inspectors out in order to begin the shocking and awing. Bush and his subordinates then frequently falsely claimed that Iraq had kicked out the inspectors.
And let's not forget -- or let's learn now, if we never did -- that the Taliban offered after 9/11 to turn bin Laden over to a third country to be put on trial. Instead, our government chose a decade of war in Afghanistan, followed by an assassination, followed by the continuation of the war for additional years.
In fact, as documented in War Is A Lie, peace offers and offers to talk have been rejected and hushed up prior to or during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and many other wars stretching back in U.S. history to countless broken treaties with Native Americans. During the U.S. war on Vietnam, peace settlements were proposed by the Vietnamese, the Soviets, and the French, but rejected or sabotaged by the United States. The last thing you want when you're trying to start or continue a war -- and when trying to sell it as a reluctant action of last resort -- is for word to leak out that the other side is proposing peace talks.
It is to the credit of our society that even proponents of war, even those who argue for its humanitarian benefits to its victims, must always maintain that it is a last resort. It is to our credit that some in our government at least partially favor using diplomacy. But others fear giving diplomacy the slightest chance, knowing it is very likely to succeed in many cases.
Some proponents of waging war on Iran admit that they do not fear Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and using it; they fear Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and doing the same thing every other nation does with them: not use it. It would then be harder to overthrow Iran's government. But those who want quick "regime change" clearly fear Iran agreeing to severe restrictions and inspections, which would eliminate all possibility of pretending that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.
This past weekend's talks clearly suggested that an alternative to war is possible. This prospect for peace was immediately denounced by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and other members of Congress – who may try to block further talks as early as this week. A Senate effort to prevent the talks from even beginning had been blocked by Sen. Rand Paul. Now Congress is coming back with more deadly sanctions, ultimatums, and resolutions requiring war.
But Congresswoman Barbara Lee has a bill with 21 cosponsors that would allow and require talks, end the Obama Administration's policy that forbids U.S. diplomats to have direct contact with Iranian government officials without express prior authorization from the Secretary of State, and prevent any war not legally authorized by Congress.
Now, who would be threatened by such a reasonable proposal, as long as war truly is the last resort?
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio
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