Washington, D.C. — March 12, 2020 — In response to reports that the U.S. has carried out five airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia sites in Iraq, Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, released the following statement:

“At a time of one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, it is shocking that the Trump administration is engaging in tit-for-tat military adventurism in the MIddle East. These airstrikes return us to the same escalation that have brought us twice to the precipice of war: once last June and then again this January. This third time we may not be so lucky. We need to end the military exchanges before it is too late. 

Both Iran and the United States are in the midst of a pandemic that is already claiming the lives of their people. War is always brutal. But to wage war when people are already suffering takes an unconscionable level of cruelty and recklessness. This conflict is already needlessly taking Iranian lives as sanctions imposed by the U.S. block life-saving medical technology. 

Congress just sent a bill to the president’s desk that would restrain his ability to wage war with Iran. But that may not be enough. Congress must use every power they have to stop this conflict — constitutional war powers, cutting off funding, and fostering public outcry. Donald Trump can’t be trusted not to use a conflict to distract the people from his incompetence in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Because of the suffering in Iran, a country that has been hard hit by the virus, there is a unique opportunity for de-escalation. The Trump administration says it cares about the Iranian people; it can prove it by suspending sanctions. Neither the U.S. nor Iran can wage war on this pandemic and each other at the same time. 

Ultimately this juxtaposition of a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis and a foolish march to war shows that the whole concept of “national security” needs a reset. Hundreds of people have already died, and millions are at risk. This is the time for diplomacy, international cooperation, and compassion not military posturing.”

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