We can’t afford to wait until the bombs drop

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by Peter Deccy, Peace Action

Last week, Peace Action launched its petition to President Obama calling on the President to prevent a military strike on Iran, by either the US or Israel.  We’re presently making arrangements to deliver the petitions to the White House on Thursday, February 2.  If you haven’t yet signed our petition, please do so.  And if you have friends you know are concerned about the prospects of a new war in the Middle East, please share this link with them: http://bit.ly/yDlbjn

For the past several weeks, tensions have been rising as a new round of sanctions on Iran were approved and Iran responded with a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a move certain to invite a military response from the US.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the President took a menacing tone toward Iran, stating: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.“

The President noted that “peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better” and he’s certainly right about that.

But wait a minute…the US and Israel seem to agree that Iran has not yet decided whether to become a nuclear weapons state.  Earlier this month on Face the Nation, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked and answered the question directly;  “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”  For its part, Israel is reported to have offered the same conclusion to Joint Chief Chair General Martin E. Dempsey last week in the form of an intelligence assessment.

So if Iran isn’t actually trying to develop a nuclear weapon, why all the talk of war?

Thirty-five percent of the world’s seaborne oil shipments, and twenty percent of oil traded worldwide travels through the Strait of Hormuz. It’s a 34-mile stretch of water between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In his final State of the Union address in 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its interests in the Persian Gulf region. Today its known as the Carter Doctrine and its objective is to ensure the free flow of oil.

In the 30 years that followed, the US has increased its influence in the region through hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons deals to Gulf states and nations in the Middle East aligned with the US and two wars launched against Iraq.

In December, The Obama administration announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia valued at nearly $30 billion, an agreement that will send 84 F-15 fighter jets and assorted weaponry to the kingdom. That followed news that the administration was planning to provide the UAE with thousands of advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and other munitions.

Another weapons deal with Bahrain was delayed when Representative James McGovern (D-MA), a close friend of Peace Action, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced resolutions to prevent the sale “until meaningful steps are taken to improve human rights” there, a response to Bahrain’s violent suppression of ‘Arab Spring’ activists.

Along with a series of punishing sanctions and US aircraft carrier groups operating in the Gulf, these efforts to bring Iran to heel have done more to set the stage for a military strike than resolve the dispute over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

This policy appears more intent on pushing Iran into the arms of the nuclear genie than it is intent on preventing Iran from joining the so-called ‘nuclear club.’

And North Korea?  The US and its allies have been bargaining with them for over a decade now. They have no oil and no one appears to be losing sleep over their nuclear weapons.

The other key difference is our ‘special relationship’ with Israel. Again, the President in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech: “Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”

A military strike on Iran – by either the US or Israel – would cause a dramatic spike in the cost of oil, threaten US forces in the area and potentially lead to a prolonged conflict the US can ill-afford.

That’s why Peace Action believes now is the time to act.  We can’t afford to wait until the bombs to drop.

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