Understanding Iran Can Stop the Next War

September 27th, 2007

First Published on Thursday, August 4, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
by Linda Milazzo and Jodie Evans

In its dangerously familiar inflammatory rhetoric, like that which preceded the invasion of Iraq, the United States continues its non-stop grumbling over Iran's nuclear threat potential. In a news conference last May, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice defiantly proclaimed, "There needs to be a very clear commitment from the Iranians to live up to their international obligations not to seek a nuclear weapon…” To most nations, imperatives like this from high ranking US officials evoke immediate fear and an obsequious response to placate the American master. But for the post-Shah independent nation of Iran, nothing could be further from the truth. Iran has no American master and adheres to no American demands toward its government, policies, religion, or citizens.
In spite of Iran's persistent refusal to cave in to America's demands, the U.S. government holds steadfast to its ‘right' to dictate Iranian destiny; a common thread amongst American supremacists who profess their god-given right to global domination. To these American supremacists, it is incomprehensible that Iranians could foolheartedly believe they have a right to global independence. But Americans are unaware of the extent to which Iranians are proud, forthright, educated and keenly aware of world issues.

Although strong dissension still exists between Iran's leaders and its own populace over fundamentalist Islamic rule versus the costs to personal freedom, on one point both sides wholeheartedly agree: Iran will in no way accept American domination. Hence, the response of the Iranian government and that of its populace to America's attempts at dominion are one in the same: a vociferous denouncement of American fear tactics as a means to deny developing nations the right to explore peaceful nuclear technology for the purpose of self preservation.

Having recently returned from leading a women's peace delegation to Iran, my most compelling impressions of the Iranians I met were that they were highly educated, deeply patriotic, globally astute and extremely self confident. They are no pushovers and show no fear of America's threats or aggression. Even though nearly 80% of Iranians are not fond of their government, they firmly support its resolve and independent stance toward America. As one woman put it: "Foreign policy is one thing our current administration is doing right. Because we don't owe anything to the US and our trading partners are Europe, China and Japan, we can stand up to the bullying tactics of the US, and it makes us proud that our government is not letting the US walk all over us, unlike other weak and fearful countries that the US can and does manipulate."

This perception that other nations submit too easily to American pressure is common amongst Iranians, and underscores just how self-assured Iranians are. Theirs has always been a wealthy and sophisticated country which values education and takes pride in its intelligentsia; in direct contrast with Afghanistan and Iraq who persistently quashed all socio-economic advancement of their people. The citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq had been suppressed into near servitude, thus devoid of self-empowerment. Wars had pushed Afghanistan into a stone-age like state. Afghan men had little schooling, and under the Taliban, their indentured women had none. Iraqis, enduring decades of tyranny from Saddam Hussein, were rendered helpless. Though more educated than the Afghans, they were certainly no bastions of self-esteem.

Like the Afghans and Iraqis, Iranians, too, have suffered a series of life changing upheavals. Presently 80% of the mostly secular population still oppose the religious rule instituted after the Islamic Revolution of 1989. Fortunately for the less religious majority, there has been a decrease in the stringent Islamic rules imposed by Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI in the early years after the Revolution. Iranians may be unhappy, but they are by no means a broken people and would be significantly stronger adversaries to America than the more broken, less resourceful citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq. Iranians want very much to change their government but they want to change it themselves. As one Iranian informed me in no uncertain terms, "We may want changes in the laws of our country and we may want freedoms and democracy but we can only achieve those by working within our own country. No one from the outside can impose these on us, and especially not the US through unwelcome military aggression. If the U.S. was to bomb us it would unite us against them immediately, just as we were united against Iraq."

There is strong evidence that if attacked the people of Iran can and will unite into a military force much more powerful than any army the United States opposed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran is a much larger nation. It has a population of 70 million, 60% under the age of 25. Each year, 2 million Iranians turn 18. All Iranians serve 2 years in the military, thus there are probably 5 million reservists who could be called into service within a month. Iranians are well aware of their military capability and believe an assault by the US to be foolhardy and implausible. As one young man asked rhetorically, "Does Bush know about who we are, our history and what he would be coming into?"

This month, Iran's new conservative hard-line President, Mahmoud Ahmadjinejad, assumes office, vowing to restart his nation's nuclear program. In no uncertain terms he has placed his European mediators on notice that the achievement of trust can only be engendered through mutual commitment. The peace ante has now been raised and the need for diplomacy is more important than ever. The American people must be aware that an assault on Iran would deplete American resources to an even graver extent than they already are. Attacking Iran would be no cakewalk.

Rather than continuing its saber-rattling, the United States should engage in diplomacy with Iran alongside the Europeans. Such an overture toward peace would be beneficial for Americans, Europeans, Iranians and the rest of the world. For the sake of justice, humanity and peace, it is encumbent upon America, Europe and Iran to do everything in their powers to “STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW!”

Linda Milazzo is a Los Angeles based writer, educator, activist and member of CodePink. She has directed several educational and community based programs throughout greater Los Angeles. Jodie Evans recently returned from Iran. She resides in Los Angeles and is an author, long time organizer/activist and co-founder of CodePink: Women for Peace. Jodie's most recent book, "Stop the Next War Now" is currently in it's second printing.