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Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress

8 Jan

[Prefatory Note: Below is a Letter to Members of Congress with an initial group of signatories; there are many more that have been gathered but not listed here. If you wish to add your signature, please send your name and affiliation to Vida Samiian, vidasamiian@gmail.com who helped compose the original text, and now with the logistics of the initiative. If you agree with the argument, please do join us by adding your name.

The Letter was composed prior to the Iranian missile attacks on two American military bases in Iraq and before Trump made his formal statement the following day, January 8th.  Although his statement can is being read in many ways, including the suggestion that Trump’s intention was to step back from the brink of a devastating war. I listened to Trump from my own perspective and with an attempt to hear his words as if I were an Iranian living in Iran. I found the statement belligerent, and formulated in an imperialist/hegemonic language, avoiding a diplomatic sequel, and instead resuming the ‘maximum pressure’ approach involving threats and further intensified sanctions and other coercive moves that will bring additional suffering to the Iranian people. Perhaps, the only hopeful element was the suggestion that Trump would seek greater NATO involvement coupled with the assertion of American energy independence. This may possibly have been a geopolitical prelude to partial disengagement in the region by the United States, but more likely was telling European countries that they should bear a greater part of the economic burden of upholding Western interests In the region since they remain dependent on Middle Eastern energy to meet their needs, while the United States no longer does. In any event, the Trump moves would undoubtedly be viewed as provocative, unacceptable, and aggressive by Iranians.

Among the most distasteful aspects of Trump’s speech was his castigation of Barack Obama’s laudable attempt to negotiate a tension-reducing agreement with Iran on its nuclear program that had the support of France, UK, as well as China, Russia, and Germany. To deride such a major breakthrough for a better future for the region, while perpetuating a war-mongering approach underscores why it continues to be so urgent for Congress to act.

This is the latest update with additional signatories.]

 

OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE U.S. CONGRESS[1]

January 7, 2020

To Members of the United States Congress:

The unlawful and provocative assassination of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, has already given rise to an escalating spiral of lethal events. The greatest risks are to stumble escalating into a devastating war in the Middle East with grave consequences for the peoples of Iran and Iraq and likely across the region. Such a war would have disastrous effects for this country, for the region and the world. It is certain to do further harm to the reputation of the United States, which already is perceived in much of the world as an irresponsible and criminal political actor in the region, using military force in ways that have made already difficult situations catastrophic by taking various dangerous military, economic and quasi-diplomatic initiatives misleadingly presented as “maximum pressure.”

It is imperative for the well-being of our country, and indeed the world, that the Congress of the United States fulfill its most solemn constitutional responsibility, and impose effective restraints on the war-making actions of this impeached president. This is a moment when partisan politics should be put aside, not only for the sake of national interests but for the benefit of humanity – -we should realize that these unilateral actions by the United States have put the entire world at risk. It is also a moment when Republicans as well as Democrats must stand up for a sane foreign policy, and for diplomacy and peace instead of aggression and war, and fulfill their duties as Members of Congress.

The Iranian people have endured decades of economic warfare waged by the US and its allies. Since the revolution of 1979 in Iran and the end of a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Iran’s autocratic leader, the Shah, the US has imposed numerous sanctions on Iran under various guises, threatened it with war and inflicted pain and suffering on its people. What is desperately needed with respect to Iran is not any further recourse to coercive diplomacy based on escalating threats, crippling sanctions, and tit-for-tat military actions. What is urgently needed is an immediate shift to restorative diplomacy based on mutual respect for international and domestic law, with the objective of peace, stability, and cooperation.

From all what we now know, General Soleimani had come to Iraq without stealth on a commercial plane.  He came to Iraq on a diplomatic peacemaking mission at the invitation of the Baghdad Government, and with a meeting scheduled on the following day with the Prime Minister that was part of an ongoing effort to seek a lessening of tensions between Iran and

Saudi Arabia. In reaction to major violations of its sovereignty, the Iraqi Parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops from their country. In place of what seemed a promising regional initiative the assassination of General Soleimani has resulted in an intensification of conflict, further massive suffering, and the likelihood of dangerous escalation.

We call on Congress to act with urgency to stem this slide toward war and regional chaos.

We urge you to consider imposing ironclad restraints on the authority of the President to make any further use of international force without a clear and definite authorization by the U.S. Congress, which itself should respect the relevant prohibitions of international law and the provisions and procedures of the UN Charter.

Richard Falk

Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law

Princeton University

Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies

Noam Chomsky

Laureate Professor of Linguistics, Agnese Nelms Haury Chair University of Arizona

Daniel Ellsberg

Former Official of State & Defense Department

Whistleblower, Pentagon Papers

Judith Butler

Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature

University of California, Berkeley

Medea Benjamin

Founder, Code Pink Author

Phyllis Bennis

Institute for Policy Studies and Jewish Voice for Peace

Professor Hilal Elver

Research Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara

Vida Samiian

Visiting Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles

Professor of Linguistics and Dean Emerita

California State University, Fresno

Antonio C. S. Rosa, M.A. Editor, TRANSCEND Media Service

Ira Helfand, M.D.

Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

1985 Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility

Celso Amorim

Author and retired Diplomat

Brazil

Christine Ahn

Executive Director

Women Cross DMZ

Rick Wayman

President & CEO

Nuclear Age peace Foundation

Frank Bognar, D.P.A.

Vice Chair, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Douglas Roche, O.C.

Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

David Krieger, President Emeritus Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History

Director, Institute of Nuclear Studies American University

Biljana Vankovska, Professor

University of Skopje, Macedonia

Bogdan Bogdanov, Professor

University of Skopje, Macedonia

Ahmad Abbas, Mathematician

Research Director at CNRS, France

Maria Stern, Professor

School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden

Joel Beinin

Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus

Stanford University

Stephan Andersson

Independent Bertrand Russell scholar, Lund, Sweden John Scales Avery, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus

University of Copenhagen

Chairman, Danish National Group

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Rev. Kil Sang Yoon

Executive Advisor

Korean American national Coordinating Council, Inc.

Jeremy R. Hammond

Independent journalist Editor of Foreign Policy Journal Author of Obstacle to Peace:

The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Maxine Fookson, RN

Board member of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Western Executive Committee of American Friends Service Committee

Frederik S. Heffermehl

Oslo Lawyer/author

Nobel Peace Prize Watch

Vincent Stanley Author, Poet

David Hillstrom, Author

Rabbi Linda Holtzman

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Thomas G. Weiss

Distinguished Fellow, Global Governance. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Presidential Professor of Political Science

The CUNY Graduate Center

Ervand Abrahamian

Professor Emeritus

City University of New York

Professor Rabab Abdulhadi

Director and Senior Scholar

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies

San Francisco State University

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl

Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law

UCLA School of Law

Olga Abella

Emeritus Professor of English

Eastern Illinois University

Suzanne Adely

National Lawyers Guild

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Stephan Andersson

Independent Bertrand Russell scholar

Lund, Sweden

Walid Afifi

Professor of Communication

University of California Santa Barbara

Kevin B. Anderson

University of California, Santa Barbara

Richard Appelbaum, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus and

Former MacArthur Chair in Sociology and Global & International Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Mohammad Azadpur

Professor of Philosophy San Francisco State University

Bahar Bastani, M.D.

Professor of Medicine

School of Medicine, Saint Louis University

Dr. Hatem Bazian

UC Berkeley and Zaytuna College

Eileen Boris

Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor

Department of Feminist Studies

Professor of History, Black Studies and Global Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Jaap C. Bos

Professor of Psychology Utrecht University

Marian and Leslie Bravery

Palestinian Human Rights Campaign

Aotearoa, New Zealand

Carole H. Browner

Distinguished Research Professor

Departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies

Center for Culture and Health

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

University of California, Los Angeles

Edmund Burke III

Professor Emeritus of History

University of California, Santa Cruz

Karen Brodkin

Professor Emerita of Anthropology

University of California, Los Angeles

Sara Cvetkovska

ERCOMER, Utrecht University

Valentina Capurri

Instructor, Ryerson University Toronto, Canada

Swati Chattopadhyay

University of California, Santa Barbara

Maivan Clech Lam

Professor Emerita

City University of New York Graduate Center

Margery Cohen

Professor Emerita

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Carla Coco

University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Ali Dabiri

Founder and President of Dr. Modjtahedi Foundation Retired Professor of Sharif University of Technology of Iran

Diana G. Darab, Ph.D.

Health Research for Action

University of California, Berkeley

Natalie Z. Davis

Professor Emeritus

Princeton University

James Deutsch MD, PhD, FRCPC

Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto

Judith Deutsch, President

Science for Peace

Julie Diamond

Center for Worker Education, CCNY New York

Gordon Doctorow, Ed.D. Toronto, Canada

Dr. Vincent Duindam, Ph.D.

Psychologist, Utrecht University

Omnia El Shakry

Professor of History

University of California, Davis

Sasan Fayazmanesh

Professor Emeritus of Economics

California State University, Fresno

Faramarz Farbod

Writer and editor at Left Turn

Adjunct faculty of Political Science

Moravian College

Nina Farnia

Past President

National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Gary Fields, Professor of Communication University of California, San Diego

Shepard Forman, Founding Director

Center for International Cooperation New York University

Manzar Foroohar, Professor Emerita

History and Latin American Studies

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Margaret Ferguson

Distinguished Professor of English, Emerita

University of California, Davis

Aranye Fradenburg Joy

Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature

University of California, Santa Barbara

Nancy Gallagher

Professor Emerita of History

University of California, Santa Barbara

Jolien Geerlings

Utrecht University

The Netherlands

Jila Ghomeshi, Professor and Department Head

Department of Linguistics University of Manitoba

Professor Penny Green

Head of Department of Law

Professor of Law and Globalisation

Director, International State Crime Initiative

Queen Mary University of London

Magda Gilewicz

Professor of English

California State University, Fresno

Avery F. Gordon

Professor of Sociology

University of California, Santa Barbara

Visiting Professor, School of Law

Birkbeck University of London

William Hastings

Assoc Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Fordham University

Maryam Shayegan Hastings

Emerita Professor of Mathematics

Fordham University

Ivan Huber

Professor Emeritus of Biology Fairleigh Dickinson University

Professor George Hunsinger

Princeton Theological Seminary

Suad Joseph

University of California, Davis

Prya Kapoor

Portland State University

David Kinsella

Portland State University

David Klein

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge

Dennis Kortheuer

Department of History, Emeritus

California State University, Long Beach

Richard K. Larson

Professor of Linguistics

Stony Brook University

Professor Anna Leander

The Graduate Institute

Dept. of International Relations and Political Science

Chenin Eugene Rigot 2, Geneva

Mark Levine

University of California, Irvine

David Lloyd

Distinguished Professor of English

University of California, Riverside

Dr. Brooke Lober

Scholar-in-Residence, Gender and Women’s Studies

University of California, Berkeley

Paul M Lubeck

Johns Hopkins University, SAIS

Afshin Matin-Asgari

Professor of Middle East History

California State University, Los Angeles

Blanca Misse

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

San Francisco State University

Akbar Montaser

Professor Emeritus

The George Washington University

Kathleen Moore

Professor of Religious Studies

UC Santa Barbara

Patricia Morton

University of California, Riverside

Radmila Nakarada

Professor of Peace Studies University of Belgrade

Jamal R. Nassar

Professor of Political Science and Dean Emeritus

California State University, San Bernardino

Srkja Pavlovic

Department of History and Classics

University of Alberta

Ismail Poonawala

Professor Emeritus of Arabic and Islamic Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Elisabeth Prugl

Professor of International Relations

Graduate Institute, Geneva

David N. Rahni

Professor of Chemistry

Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal

Law and Urban Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Craig Reinarman

Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Legal Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

Rush Rehm

Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies and Classics

Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater

Stanford University

Stephen Roddy

Professor of Chinese Studies

San Francisco State University

Lisa Rofel

Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

Co-Director, Center for Emerging Worlds

University of California Santa Cruz

Co-Director, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Cesar “che” Rodriguez, Ph.D

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies

San Francisco State University

Muhammad Sahimi

Professor of Chemical Engineering University of Southern California

Professor William Spence, QMUL

Carole Saltz

Director (retired)

Teachers College Press

Leyli Shayegan

Retired Assistant Director

Teachers College Press

Carole Snee,

Retired Director of ESL

California State University, Fresno

Baki Tezcan

University of California, Davis

Azadeh Saljooghi, Ph.D., MFA

Retired faculty of Communications and Film Studies

Mark Lewis Taylor

Maxwell M. Professor of Theology and Culture

Princeton Theological Seminary

Devra Weber

Emerita Professor of History

University of California, Riverside

Ryan J. Fisher

University of California, Santa Barbara

Eve Hershcopf

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace- Bay Area

Penny Rosenwasser

Author, Instructor, Interdisciplinary Studies

City College of San Francisco

Marlena Santoyo

Greater Philadelphia Branch

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Outreach Coordinator

Kelly Patrick Gerling, Seattle

Judy Neunuebel

Jewish Voice for Peace

 

George Marx

Chicago, IL

Beth Harris

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace National Board

Janet Kobren

Human Rights Activist

Susan Shawl

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area chapter

David L. Mandel, Sacramento

Human rights attorney

Chapter leader, Jewish Voice for Peace

Elected member, California Democratic Party Central Committee

Sophie Moradi

An opponent of never-ending wars

Henry Norr

Activist and retired Journalist

Mario Galvan

Board member, Sacramento Area Peace Action

Pathma Venasithamby

Jewish Voice for Peace

Carol Sanders

Retired Attorney

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace

Elizabeth Block

Member of Independent Jewish Voice

Molly Hogan

Jewish Voice for Peace

Martha Roth

Independent Jewish Voices

Pam Rogers

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace

Linval R. DePass

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace

Angela Price

Fresno Center for Nonviolence

Masoud Chamasemani

Actor and TV Producer

Pauline M. Coffman Oak Park, IL

Eve Darian-Smith

Layla Darwish

Palestine Freedom Project

Shahla Dashtaki Fulton, MO

Natalie Z. Davis

Marcela Jurado

Priscilla Read

Chicago

Gertrude Reagan

Palo Alto Friends Meeting

Bob Aldridge

World War II Veteran

Newland F. Smith, 3rd

Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Ned Rosch

Human Rights Activist who lived and worked in Iran

Parizad Torgoli

Rev. Don Wagner

Friends of Sabeel-North America

Parisa Afshar

American-Iranian who opposes any kind of war with Iran

Richard Lew Independent Contractor Reza Sheybani, M.D.

Eugene Schulman

Independent dissident

Susan Stout

Activist, Vancouver

Mark Winterrowd

John Whitbeck

International Law Expert

Cindy Shamban

Member of Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area

Nancy Murray

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine

Marge Sussman

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area

[1] Although members of the U.S. Congress formally represent citizens of the United States, the global role and activities of the United States are such that the peoples of the world are often directly impacted. As a result nonAmericans have a vital stake in the adherence of American foreign policy to international law and the Charter of The United Nations, and were invited to sign our Open Letter and join in this appeal to Congress.