Tag Archives: Coercive Diplomacy

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.

Will Trump’s War-Mongering Lead to War with Iran

12 Aug
)

[Prefatory Note: This post is an edited version of an interview on 11 August 2019 by an Iranian journalist, Nozhan Etezad, and published in Iran Newpaper. It addresses various aspects of the troubled recent relationship between Iran/U.S.]

Will Trump’s War-Mongering Lead to War with Iran

1-Why is there a contradiction in Trump’s policy towards Iran? On the
one hand, he says he wants to negotiate, and on the other, US
government is boycotting Zarif and the supreme leader of Iran. What do
think about this issue?

You are quite right to take note of this striking contradiction, but the world has cometo expect such inconsistencies in Trump’s diplomatic style between Trump’s forthcoming and forbidding sides. He is consistently unpredictable, and as such, is capable of moving without much warning in either belligerent or accommodating directions when it comes to decisions involving action. On balance, he seems to prefer negotiations to warfare. If so, it would seem sensible for top Iranian political leaders to make clear statements indicating their willingness to discuss any concerns with Trump, expressing their interest in a meeting and their commitment to the avoidance of further war endangering confrontations.

Two important unknowns should be read as qualifications to my response: how much effective pressure are outside actors putting on Trump to maintain an aggressive approach to Iran; how strong is the opposition in Tehran to any Iranian compromises or to displays of an unconditional willingness to engage in direct talks with the U.S. Government given Trump’s hostile behavior up until now. Would too great a show of eagerness for accommodation and normalization suggest Iranian weakness, including a readiness to offer concessions?

2-Some say Rouhani is not on the sanctions list of US Because Trump
want to meet him. what is your opinion? Is it possible to negotiate
with him in the current situatio? Even when Ayatollah Khamenei has
stated that neither war nor Iran will be negotiated?

There are two concerns here. First, would Trump be more receptive to Rouhanithan Zarif as a negotiating partner? Possibly, because Rouhani is the president of Iran, thus possessing an equal status in government as Trump. It might be worthwhile for Iranian leaders to explore this possible diplomatic opening, and the fact that it seems inconsistent with other aspects of U.S. behavior should not be taken too seriously as an obstacle if the initiative otherwise seems worth exploring.

The second concern is on the Iranian side. Would Ayatollah Khamenei or others in Iran block such a meeting or oppose following up should it achieve a positive outcome? I have no special opinion about this, but a lack of sufficient support on the Iranian side could have the effect of making the current situation between the two countries even more dangerous by making diplomacy appear to be a dead-end, and this could give warmongers in the U.S. Government additional influence on policy toward Iran. 

3-How do you evaluate Iranian diplomacy as a means of countering Trump’s pressure?
Has Iran’s diplomacy been successful?

I think that Iranian diplomacy has so far exhibited composure and resolve, communicating to Washington a determination by Tehran not to be intimidated even by the ‘maximum pressures’ reportedly mounted by Trump. These signs of Iranian strength and political will may be over time improving the prospects for a diplomatic accommodation as it should now be clear that coercive moves by Trump short of war will not lead Iran to back down or surrender politically in response to sanctions or other hostile acts, and recourse to war, as dangerous as it would be, so far seems only to be. relevant as a default option, that is, occurring by miscalculation or accident.

4-Do you think it is possible in the current situation to create
Track II Diplomacy for behind-the-scenes negotiations between Iran and
the US? Is there any will in America for that? Do you think Iran is
interested?

 

These questions are all difficult to answer as Track II diplomacy to be effective must be undertaken and carried forward discreetly at its early stages without public disclosure or political comment. In my view, considering the difficulties of achieving a breakthrough by way of traditional diplomacy, it is worth giving consideration to a Track II approach. Whether either government has the will or capability to pursue such a course at this point is not evident. Finally, without proper authorization by political leaders, Track II initiatives have a risk of backfiring by being disowned through contentions that the initiative was improperly authorized or dealt with in bad faith.

5-Why was Zarif sanctioned in your opinion? Is Trump angry about his
diplomatic ability and his relations with the media and American
politicians? Will subtle sanctions make him unable to travel to New
York? Will the American media no longer interview him?

My response to these questions is necessarily highly speculative. Zarif has been quoted at one point saying that agreements with the U.S. are not worth the ink used to write them, and that might have been regarded by the White House as an unacceptable insult, although I regard it as a reasonable reaction to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, familiarly known as the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Agreement) and other unprovoked unfriendly and damaging policies pursued by the United States. Other motivations may arise from Zarif being seen as the architect of the repudiated agreement that Trump has rejected in such a defiant manner, making him disposed to be a difficult negotiator.

If Zarif comes to NYC on an official visit to represent Iran at the UN I would expect that he would be allowed to enter the US, but restricted in his movements beyond the city. While present on a UN mission, I do not think the media would be hesitant or precluded from talking with him.
.

6-Some believe that Iran is now launching a maximum countermeasures
campaign against the United States and exerting pressure on the EU. These counter-measures have so far taken the form of increased uranium enrichment and the seizure of several foreign oil tankers in the Persian. Gulf. Why has Iran taken such action? Is it in the interest of Iranian diplomacy? Can Iran use the leverage of these measures in a possible future negotiation with the US?

Both the incremental withdrawal of Iran from the obligations of the JCPOA and the tanker seizures in the Gulf seem designed to demonstrate both Iranian readiness to stand upfor their national interests and legal rights, and its pursuit of a policy of retaliatory response to provocative actions taken against its country by Trump. By so acting Iran has is sending a message to the effect that if the U.S. or others act strongly to imperil Iran’s wellbeing, then Iran will react with equivalent measures of hostility and displays of defiance.

 

Iran’s approach has risks but it also is the most promising alternative to a no-win strategy of passivity. In effect, I think Iran is making it clear that the coercion of the sort deployed will not work to weaken their political will or alter their policies, and that either there must be genuine moves by the U.S. toward normalization and respect for Iran’s sovereign rights or there could be a war that would have bad effects for many political actors. I am assuming that Iran is hoping that its adversaries realize that war would be devastating for all involved, and that in the end compromise and accommodation is the best approach for both sides. We cannot be sure about this, especially considering the various irresponsible influences at work, both seen and unseen. Given the alternatives, I believe Iran has adopted correct policies to uphold its sovereign rights in this vigorous manner given Trump’s provocations.

7-Do you find it possible to negotiate with Iran during the Trump era?
If there is a negotiation, what kind of cards does Iran have for
playing?

 

We cannot be sure about anything with regard to international negotiations in the Trump Era, but it is probably helpful to remember that Trump would politically gain immensely from walking back the crisis and achieving normalization with Iran, and lose dramatically if the crisis spins out of control, and a costly and chaotic war ensues. Remembering that presidential elections in the US are scheduled for November 2020, American domestic politics exert a huge and greater than usual impact on foreign policy. In this sense, Iran holds the cards that could give or withhold a huge political victory for Trump by whether or not it reaches an agreement.

 

It may be instructive to consider the approach adopted by Trump toward North Korea in somewhat parallel circumstances. His Korean diplomacy can be interpreted as a sign of the willingness of Trump to pursue a war-avoidance diplomacy with a long-term adversary of the United States even in the face of criticism from some advisors. The. Iranian situation is, of course, different, especially as it is closely linked to the U.S. relationship with Israel, and touches on other complexities of Middle East politics. On balance, Iran should be cautious about being too hopeful about normalization in the near future, but at the same time should remain sensitive to the emergence of potential opportunities for a diplomatic breakthrough.

8-Do you think that if Trump is reelected there will be a change in Iran’s approach to negotiations? What should the Iranian diplomacy team do if confronted by a reelected Trump?

 

It is almost impossible to predict what Trump would do with respect to foreign policy if reelected. On the optimistic side, he might want to simplify the challenges facing the. U.S. by resolving foreign policy concerns to the extent possible so as to focus on such domestic priorities as health and immigration. His presidency might also shift from popularity with voters concerns to legacy concerns, and whether in the end Trump wants to be remembered as a geopolitical warrior or as an innovative peacemaker. We can only hope that the latter possibility prevails if political misfortune befalls, and Trump is reelected. I would also suggest that at this point it is not more than 50% likely that Trump will be reelected. It depends on whether has Democratic opponent has unified support among Democrats and whether the American economy remains strong (employment, stock market).

With respect to Iran’s response to Trump’s reelection, it seems like to depend on intervening developments, and whether Trump seems combative in depicting American foreign policy toward Iran and the Middle East. I would recommend that the Iran diplomatic team assess the situation as it unfolds without endorsing expectations either of accommodation or intensifying confrontation. The most likely future is continuity, a small variation in either direction as compared to the present unsatisfactory situation.

9-Why did Trump abandon a military strike against Iran? Was it because of the
fear of Iran’s military response deterred or because of Iran’s diplomatic consultations?

 

The true motives for such a sudden policy reversal are rarely truthfully disclosed by governments, I suspect a combination of factors converged in this instance of which the most important was the sense that the conflict would dangerously escalate once military force was used, raising the risks of a foreign policy disaster to unacceptable levels. Besides, Trump had campaigned in the past against war making in the Middle East, and during his presidency while he has often irresponsibly bluffed and threatened, so far he has not acted militarily.

10-How successful has Iranian media diplomacy been in influencing
regional and global public opinion to counter Trump’s policies?
Does Trump Really Want Negotiation or War?

Iranian media diplomacy has been successful in conveying to the world the resolve of Iran to resist by all available means pressures from the U.S. and its regional adversaries. This has likely made regional actors advocate caution on the part of U.S. allies at least via confidential communications. There are few voices in the region that view a war with Iran as a viable option, and what Iran has shown by its strong recent responses to the repudiation of JCPOA and sanctions is that without war no political victory can be achieved merely by relying on threats and various forms of coercion. Also relevant as discouraging military action are the experiences of war in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen

11-How successful has Iran’s diplomacy been in persuading Europeans to
profit economically under a nuclear deal?

I am not an expert on this, but see little evidence that Iran has been able to work out significant beneficial arrangements with European countries, especially with respect to arranging oil sales. My impression is that while Europe is critical of the Trump path it is not prepared to risk worsening its economic and diplomatic relations with the US by rescuing Iran from the sanctions policy.

12-Some believe the US cannot make peace in Afghanistan without Iran’s
participation. Is it possible for Iran and the US to discuss an Afghanistan arrangement
during the Trump era? Some reports suggest that Russia will hold a
summit on Afghanistan soon. Do you think a meeting is possible
between Iranian and US officials on the sidelines in the course of such an event?

 

I think anything is possible along these lines with respect to finding a path to peace in Afghanistan, which seems a high priority of Trump, as well as of other political actors. It all depends on how priorities are weighed against one another by Washington and others. There is no requirement of overall consistency when it comes to policymaking. Iran might also resist constructive participation in Afghan negotiations favored by the West so long as Iran is targeted by sanctions and by threats/warnings.

 

Informal meetings on the sidelines are also quite possible as both sides may want to signal their willingness to find a mutually acceptable path to normalization and away from a slide toward war that would have catastrophic consequences for all involved.

14-Some people are saying that if US Senator Rand Paul’s meets with Zarif it could lead to improvements in Iran-US relations. What is your opinion? Others say appointing
a representative, such as Zalmay Khalilzad, would be a better idea to
negotiate with Iran because he had previously talked to Iranian
officials about Afghanistan. What is your opinion? If Trump wants to
deal with Iran might he indicate this by giving Paul a green light to go ahead?

I doubt that Rand Paul would be given any serious diplomatic role. He is looked upon in Washington as an eccentric and inexperienced outsider that is not trusted by the political mainstream, including by most members of his own political party. With Trump, nothing can be ruled out, and it is possible Paul would be used as an expendable triial balloon. In contrast, Khalilzad is an experienced and mainstream envoy whose appointment would signal an intention to give diplomacy a serious chance. But it might also require a commitment to diplomacy that Trump is not presently ready to make. If so, Paul could become a preferred option as there would not be strong expectations of success created by his appointment.

15-What will be the position of Trump as stand between Bolton and Pompeo and
the pursuit of his anti-war approach towards Iran?
How much diplomatically is it possible for Iran to convince the new
British government to come to an agreement with it? What is your
prediction? Will Boris Johnson be closely associated with Trump after Iran’s
election or will he pursue a more independent policy?

As far as the relationship of Boris Johnson’s leadership of Britain to Iran is concerned, I imagine that the most likely course is one openly supportive of Trump. Johnson will be preoccupied with minimizing the post-Brexit challenges facing Britain, and will be highly motivated to seek positive and enhanced trade and finance relations with the United States to offset an economic freefall some expect to follow quickly in the event of a no-deal departure from the EU. Under these conditions Johnson is almost certain not to allow any friction in relation to Iran to interfere with this overriding priority. At the same time, Johnson is ambitious, impulsive, and unpredictable, and might take the chance of adopting a more independent approach to Iran and the Middle East generally. 

16-Finally, Could Trump risk making a military strike against Iran before
the 2020 election? What if he wins again? Do you think it will be
possible for the US or its allies to attack Iran after the election?

 

Anything is possible, but as my earlier responses suggest, it is most likely but far from certain that Trump will seek to avoid war with Iran and not follow the advice of such anti-Iranian hawkish advisors as Bolton and Pompeo. I think the inhibitions on recourse to military action against Iran will be somewhat stronger before the 2020 election than after a Trump political victory in the form or reelection. At such a point, I would still expect that Trump would seek to avoid war with Iran, and also that even Israel in the end would also not want an. actual war, which could cause Israel to experience massive devastation, and therefore, behind the scenes Israel can be expected to push either for a continuation of the present diplomacy of exerting pressure as at present or even might favor deescalating the conflict for fear that it could at some point unintentionally produce a mutually destructive war. 

 

 

AN AMERICAN ATTACK ON IRAN WOULD BE AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER FOR THE US, IRAN AND THE WORLD: Iran War Statement

25 Jun

[Prefatory Note: The following statement on US warmongering in relation to Iran was prepared by Mark LeVine, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine and myself. Some of the early signatories are among the leading scholars in the field of Middle East Studies. Their names are listed below.

It seeks to make two major arguments: first, that the unlawful threats and coercive moves made by the United States point toward a political disaster that would include the commission of the most serious of international crimes, that of aggression via threats and uses of force that do not constitute self-defense under international law; secondly, that it is essential to shift the relationship with Iran from one based on coercive to an approach resting on restorative diplomacy involving a deliberate reversal of American Foreign Policy with the overriding objective of normalization of relations between our two countries.

If you wish to add your name to the signatories of the statement, use the link below. As there  is no space for affiliation, I suggest putting your first and last name in the first blank space, and your affiliation in the space reserved for last name.]

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/President_Trump_An_American_Attack_on_Iran_Would_be_an_Unmitigated_Disaster_for_the_US_Iran_and_the_World/details/

 

 

 

AN AMERICAN ATTACK ON IRAN WOULD BE

AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER FOR THE US, IRAN AND THE WORLD

 

Statement by leading Middle East/Islamic studies scholars, June 22, 2019

We, the undersigned scholars of the Middle East and North Africa and broader Muslim world, call on President Trump immediately to pull back from the brink of a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is clear to us that the human, diplomatic, legal, political, and economic costs to both countries, the Persian Gulf and larger Middle East, the global economy and the global system of international humanitarian law of a US attack would be even more devastating than was the US invasion of Iraq sixteen years ago. We call upon the political leadership of the country, with a sense of urgency, not only to refrain from any further threats and uses of force against Iran, but also to put forward a new American diplomacy that takes steps to achieve a sustainable peace between our two countries and within the larger region.

 

We bring to the public’s attention the following points:

 

– The US-led Iraqi invasion, whose financial toll has exceeded $2 trillion in the US and at least that much in its adverse economic impact on the affected countries, led to the deaths of over 600,000 Iraqis, largely destroyed the Iraqi state and much of the country’s infrastructure, produced devastating immediate and long-term impact on the health of Iraqis and the environment, directly contributed to the rise of the Islamic State and its conquest and occupation and destruction of a huge swath of Iraq and neighboring countries (especially Syria), and produced a series of governments in the region which, even when there is a veneer of democracy, are incredibly corrupt and unable effectively to govern fractured societies, while continuing routinely to commit large scale human rights violations against their citizens.

 

– Like the Iraqi invasion before it, an attack on Iran under the present circumstances would be a clear violation of international law–a crime against peace, which is an international crime of the highest order, and delineated as such in the Nuremberg Judgement. Indeed, absent a valid claim of self-defense any attack on Iran, never mind a full-scale invasion and occupation by the United States, would violate the core articles of the UN Charter (Articles 2(4), 33, 39 & 51) as well as the legal imperative to seek a peaceful settlement of all international disputes. Such “breaches of the peace” are the most serious violations of international law a country can commit, and the US doing so again less than a generation after the Iraqi invasion would situate it outside the community of nations, making it widely regarded as a dangerous and destabilizing rogue actor whose behavior is the very opposite of the self-understanding and justifications of the Trump Administration for its actions. In this regard the recent array of threats, sanctions, and provocations are themselves flagrant violations of international law even without any direct recourse to force; only self defense against a prior armed attack across as international border legally justifies a claim of self-defense. Absent this, all threats, as well as uses of force, are considered severe violations of international law.

 

Particularly in the context of the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which verifiably halted the potential for Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program, and the imposition of crippling economic sanctions against the government and people of Iran without a UN Security Council mandate, the present policy of increasing pressure on Iran and irresponsibly raising risks violent confrontation that could quickly escalate to an all-out war, coupled with the inflammatory discourse of regime change championed by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, constitute clear interference with Iranian sovereignty rights as well as with the inalienable right of self-determination enjoyed by the Iranian people. As such, these policies are violations of international law and of the UN Charter, inherently destabilizing, and themselves pose unacceptable threat to peace.

 

Recent events have alarmed us, demonstrating how ill-defined policy goals, bellicose rhetoric, policies and brinkmanship, and operating outside the well-defined framework of international law can easily bring countries to the brink of mutual disaster. The ongoing global impact of the Iraqi invasion (from the rise of ISIS to the aborted Arab Spring, greater support for authoritarian rulers, and the civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen and the massive wave of refugees these dynamics have caused) reminds us that the Middle East, and the world at large, cannot afford another major war in the region. Such a conflict would undoubtedly lead to a horrific toll of dead and injured, major environmental destruction, large scale forced migration, world-wide recession, as well as producing other equally dangerous and unintended consequences.

 

Finally, we note here that the Trump Administration’s bellicose policies towards Iran are inseparable from its uncritical and unrestrained support of authoritarian and repressive policies across the region, from the ever-deepening Israeli occupation to the Saudi and UAE war in Yemen, the destruction of democracy in Egypt and the frustration of democratic aspirations of citizens across the Middle East and North Africa, all of which contribute to the immiseration and increasingly forced migration of millions of people across the region and the unjustified repression of their legitimate aspirations for freedom, justice, democracy and sustainable development.

 

We therefore call upon President Trump, first, to pull back from any thought of an unsanctioned attack; second, to rejoin and implement the 2015 nuclear agreement; third, to terminate the enhanced sanctions he continues to impose on Iran; and fourth, to enter into immediate and good faith negotiations towards a normalization of relations with the Islamic Republic. Along with these immediate steps, we call for an honest appraisal of the costs of historic and current American policies in the Middle East and North Africa, and their reorientation towards support for freedom and democracy.

 

In the absence of these steps, we call on the US Congress to act swiftly and decisively to prevent the President from leading the United States into war, and call on our fellow academics, policymakers, diplomats, military officials, elected representatives, and concerned citizens to assert whatever pressure necessary to prevent the Administration from engaging in any kind of attack on Iran, or any other country, outside the bounds of international law and without the clear and explicit authorization of the UN Security Council.

 

Signed (partial list, as of June 21),

 

Beth Baron, Distinguished Professor, Director, Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, Graduate Center, City University of New York, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History, Emeritus Stanford University, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Laurie A. Brand, Robert Grandford Wright Professor of International Relations and Middle East Studies University of Southern California, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Charles E. Butterworth, Emeritus Professor, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

 

Juan R. Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, past President of Middle East Studies Association

 

John Esposito, University Professor, Professor of Religion & International Affairs and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, past President of the Middle East Studies Association and American Academy of Religion

 

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, former, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

 

Nader Hashemi, Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies

 

Suad Joseph, Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Mark LeVine, Professor of History, UC Irvine, Chair, Program in Global Middle East Studies

 

Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and History, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Valentine M. Moghadam, Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Northeastern University, past President of the Middle East Studies Association

 

Ahmad Sadri, Gorter Chair of Islamic World Studies, Professor of Sociology, Lake Forest College