Working towards peace and sustainability

New War in the Midst of Impeachment Season?

We are living in perilous times. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani was a unilateral act of aggression by the Trump regime—an act of war—that was not only illegal and immoral, but it is likely to have very adverse consequences.

Some speculate that an armed conflict is desired by the administration that is on the ropes politically and facing a reelection battle this year. Most are familiar with the notion of a "Wag the Dog," scenario to distract from misconduct and get at least some voters to rally around the flag and the incumbent administration.

Whether that is the intention of the President is not as significant as are the consequences of this action. This comes on top of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, his imposition of new, draconian sanctions, followed by the escalation of fighting with Iranian allies/proxies, skirmishes in the Persian Gulf and more.

Some might not yet recognize just how important a figure Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani was. He was according to many accounts the second most important political figure in Iran, after only the Supreme Leader.

Soleimani was revered by many. Thus this action will only stoke hatred for the U.S. not just in Iran, or Iraq, which also lost an important official--Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi--in the attack, but throughout much of the world, especially in predominantly Muslim countries.
A portion of the massive crowd at Qasem Soleimani' funeral.
Yet the Trump administration claims this act of war was a “de-escalation” of the U.S.-Iran conflict; a step toward ending, not starting, war; one that will “save lives.” Such claims are preposterous. Yet, sadly, if Trump or his surrogates say it, there are some who’ll believe it, no matter how off the wall it might be.

Clearly, killing central figures in other countries' governments is not a path to settling conflict. In fact, it has exactly the opposite effect. To pretend otherwise will only hoodwink the extremely gullible, or those so thoroughly indoctrinated that they will believe virtually anything someone they’ve put their faith in says. It makes a fool or a liar, in the eyes of the rest of us, of anyone who makes such ridiculous assertions. And, in the process, it deepens and widens the chasm between Trump's true believers and the rest of the citizenry.

Heating a Cold War & Accelerating Nuclear Proliferation

Last Friday, an already dangerous situation in the Persian Gulf region became a much greater threat, both in the near term and looking forward. Sadly, we are likely to see the ratcheting up of a cycle of violence in which the U.S. and Iran both inflict violence, death and destruction. The U.S. is already sending thousands of additional troops to the region, while Iran is already stating they will seek revenge. It is not yet clear how much blood, or whose blood, will be shed, but this will not be pretty.

Moreover, this greatly strengthens the hand of those in Iran who favor nuclear weapons development as a deterrent to U.S. aggression. The Iranians have already announced that they will no longer be bound by the constraints agreed to in the accord. While we in Peaceworks are in favor of nuclear weapons abolition and oppose proliferation, it's hard to argue with the logic of nuclear deterrence. We all can see that countries like Iraq and Iran, which don't have nuclear weapons, are on the receiving end of U.S. attacks, while North Korea, which does, has its leader wined and dined and praised to the high heavens.
This map shows U.S. military bases thousands of miles from our shores and surrounding Iran. It helps to answer the question who is threatening whom.
 War Crimes & Justice

Some assert that Qasem Soleimani was an evil figure, guilty of many crimes, and thus he deserved his fate. While it may be true, as these defenders of the assassination assert, that he is guilty of serious crimes, we are a nation that bases our governance on the rule of law. This includes domestic and international law. If Soleimani was a war criminal, he should have been apprehended and placed in the dock at The Hague, where he could have had a fair trial, rather than face summary execution.

While our government was instrumental in bringing many of Germany and Japan’s top officials to justice after World War II—establishing the Nuremberg Principles in the process—there has been a general U.S. reluctance, in recent decades, to respect international law. For example, our government has refused to accept the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court. Further, they haves steadfastly held that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and other architects of the crime against the peace otherwise known as the Iraq War should face no sanctions for their actions, at home or abroad.

By simultaneously denying U.S. officials are subject to facing consequences for their actions, while denying others accused of heinous acts the right to a fair trial, their actions are seriously undermining the already tattered framework of international law, and, in the process, implicitly proclaiming that might makes right. This can only lead us further down the path of having the law of the jungle replace the rule of law.

It is also worthy of note that making war on Iran is not only a violation of international law, but also has no legal justification under U.S. law. Congress has not declared war or authorized the use of military force. The authorizations passed after 9/11 and prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq do not apply to the current situation and thus, the various threats made by Trump would not be legal unless taken first to Congress and supported by both houses.

Our Actions Now Matter

This is no time to be quiet. There's way too much at stake. It's time for all of us to speak out for peace and reconciliation and to oppose a drive to war by Trump.

It’s time to be visible and demonstrate publicly our concern. There already are two weekly peace demonstrations in CoMo (Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Broadway & Providence, and Saturdays, 10-11 a.m. at the CoMo Post Office on Walnut). There will be others, including injecting a peace presence at the Jan. 18 Solidarity Rally & March.

We also need to raise war and peace concerns in every arena we can, including at work, at school, in our interactions with friends, at our houses of worship, on-line and more.

We certainly should be communicating with our members of Congress, but this is really not sufficient. We are in an election year and these concerns need to be raised with all the candidates, made a key voting criterion. We, as Peaceworks, neither support nor opposed candidates for office, but we do encourage our members and supporters to engage in active citizenship, which includes, of course, registering and voting, as well as backing candidates. We hope you will take seriously both the perils of our current situation and the opportunities we face this critical election year. Please engage as you can.