Our open letter on Iran

July 8th, 2008

Talk of military action against Iran grows louder every day. Rumors swirl of an Israeli attack before Inauguration Day or a Bush administration October surprise. There are reports of special ops teams already in place and at work.

J Street's position is clear: We oppose pre-emptive military action by either the United States or Israel, and we support stronger US diplomacy - using carrots as well as sticks - to address Iran's nuclear ambitions.

That's why we're asking J Street's members to sign our open letter to Members of Congress and Congressional candidates asking them to say "no" to war with Iran and "yes" to tough, smart diplomacy. We'll present this letter to every Member of Congress and Congressional candidate we meet with this cycle. Sign our open letter to Members of Congress and Congressional candidates here.

To us, it's common sense that saber-rattling and constant threats are counter-productive. What better way to unite Iran behind its most hawkish leaders than threatening to attack? What better way to empower the Iranian hardliners' case for nuclear weapons development than to talk of a military attack?

Too many political candidates seem to think that tough talk and belligerent resolutions will shore up their image on national security. Concerned about appearing "weak", they hesitate to stress negotiation and engagement as fundamental tools of foreign policy in addressing threats and resolving conflicts.

Was it weakness on the Bush administration's part to negotiate an end to Libya's weapons programs? Didn't "tough" diplomacy lead North Korea to start backing slowly away from its nuclear program?

Let's be clear: We do not want Iran to get nuclear weapons. We want to protect Israel from threats. We condemn the unacceptable and unjustifiable rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish people. We want to defend American interests in the Middle East and around the world.

But the current course of American foreign policy has not only failed to achieve these goals; it has undermined them.

A military strike will not eliminate the actual threat. Even proponents acknowledge that, at best, it might set Iran's suspected nuclear program back by a few years. But military action would likely strengthen Iranian determination to succeed in developing a nuclear weapon.

It was precisely this kind of backward thinking that brought us the debacle in Iraq. A war sold at least in part as a strategy for fighting terror instead brought increased terror and instability at a terrible cost in human lives, America's international standing and hundreds of billions of our tax dollars.

War with Iran would likely trigger wider warfare, further regional instability, and potentially a worldwide economic upheaval. In the end, the attack itself would strengthen the argument of those in Iran who say they need such weapons because they live under the threat of attack.

That's why we are asking our members to sign an open letter to current Members of Congress and Congressional candidates encouraging them to support a smart and tough policy on Iran. You can click here to read a longer policy section on Iran.