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Our open letter on Iran

July 8, 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.

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.