By Karen Dolan · 1 Jul 2008
Foreign Policy Disaster Redux: Raise fears about a Middle East country. Tie that four-letter-word country to the potential for mushroom clouds over Tel Aviv and Texas. Convince the U.S. public that this country's ties to terrorists, its fanatical Islamist faith and its megalomaniacal leader with a scary-sounding name add up to the end of western civilization. Conclusion: Iran must be stopped, no option off the table.
The saber rattling increases, despite the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons capability, nor has it a viable nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency Director, Mohammed ElBaradei, says unilateral military action by the United States or Israel would "turn the region into a fireball" and propel Iran toward developing a nuclear weapon. He has said he would resign his post in protest should such an attack be carried out. Yet, the Pentagon has confirmed that Israel recently launched a "rehearsal" attack on Iran's nuclear sites. Congress is currently considering a resolution (HR 362) that could justify imposing a naval blockade on Iran, constituting, in effect, an act of war against that country.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain repeats "Islamic Jihadists" at every turn and has famously joked "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran," (sung to tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann") and mimics Bush in his refusal to enter the kind of negotiations needed to engage Iran. Have we all gone mad?
Thankfully, no. The U.S. public and our locally elected officials are hip to the hype this time around. Indeed, they were hip to the hype the last time around too. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, 170 U.S. cities and towns passed resolutions decrying the Bush administrations threats to invade Iran, citin†g there was not sufficient evidence of imminent threat or weapons of mass destruction, the illegality of preemptive war, the potential gigantic loss of life on both sides, and gargantuan costs to U.S. taxpayers. They were right. Currently, over 325 localities and states have more resolutions aimed at bringing the troops and the money home from Iraq (www.citiesforpeace.org). Recently, recognizing the increase in war rhetoric against Iran, U.S. localities have once again decided to try to insert common sense and prudence into our runaway foreign policy. So far, 13 towns and cities have passed resolutions saying no to a military strike on Iran.
There is a new effort, out of Mayor Bob Kiss's office in Burlington Vermont, which calls on fellow mayors to sign a resolution to avoid military action with Iran. "In these times when the Iraq war has sapped so many of our financial resources and cost the lives of our brave soldiers, I hope you will join me in voicing the determination of mayors across this country to stop a war with Iran before it begins," writes Mayor Kiss. Mayor Kiss's resolution boasts 32 Mayors in as many days from localities as diverse as Elizabeth NJ, West Palm Beach, FL, Condon, OR, Bowling Green KY and Fayetteville AK.
The National Mayors Resolution for Diplomacy with Iran acknowledges the ramping up of rhetoric against Iran and cautions against unilateral military action. It also states:
... nothing herein should be misconstrued as support for the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but it should be understood that a unilateral, pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran could well prove counterproductive to the cause of promoting freedom and democracy there;
Recent polling has shown that only a small minority of the U.S. public supports military action against Iran. As we have also seen, there is great sentiment against it and evidence that such action will only produce the opposite effect of the peace that is desired in the region.
We can't count on our federal government and the foreign policy establishment to exercise good judgment and effective foreign policy. We need Mayor Kiss; we need Mayor Euille of Alexandria, VA. we need the good people of Dayton, OH to speak reason to power. We also need power to listen.
By Karen Dolan: fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus. She directs the Institute's Cities for Progress project.
This article originally appeared on the Alternet website. SACSIS cannot authorize its republication.