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Americans to Talk Directly to Iranians: Call for Diplomacy not War with Iran


As rhetoric continues to escalate and tensions mount between the U.S. and Iran, the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran will hold an event on Capitol Hill to underscore the need for new, responsible and effective U.S. policies and leadership to reduce the likelihood of a conflict that would have disastrous consequences. 

What: The Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) is organizing an innovative "Time to Talk with Iran" event and press conference on Capitol Hill.  With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, Members of Congress, celebrities, former officials, and other citizens will use a row of 60's-era red "hotline" telephones to talk directly to ordinary Iranian citizens. Concurrently on June 10, the Campaign is organizing a nationwide Call-in to Congress for Diplomacy with Iran so those outside of DC can participate and make their voice heard

When: The event on Capitol Hill will be held Tuesday, June 10, 2008, from 10:00 am-1:00 pm EDT.

Where: Terrace on the West Side of Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC.

What you can do: If you live in or near DC, come participate in the Capitol Hill event and have a conversation with an Iranian citizen.

If you live outside of DC, call your Representative and Senators and tell them you want dialogue, not war, with Iran. Click here to download the National Call-in Day action alert. For organizations, please consider sending the action alert below to your members and advertising on your website.

What are people saying about the event?

"War is never a good option. There is no worse option in dealing with Iran. It is time for Washington to start talking with Tehran," says Doug Bandow, the Robert A. Taft Fellow with the American Conservative Defense Alliance and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan

"Instead of talking about war, the U.S. government should talk to Iran.  At the same time, Congress must reassert its constitutional authority and not give the President another blank check to wage another costly war," says Bob Barr, former Republican Congressman from Georgia and the Libertarian Party's 2009 Presidential nominee.

"Both Houses should pass a joint resolution declaring that no appropriated funds may be used for any pre-emptive U.S. air strikes on Iran -- unless and until Congress has authorized such acts of war. If we are headed for war with Iran, it should be the collective judgment of all the nation's elected leadership, and not done on the whim of a lame-duck president unsure about his place in history." Patrick J. Buchanan

"Right now, the most important thing is that the U.S. does not militarily attack Iran or even threaten to attack Iran," says Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer. "A military attack will only bring further chaos to the region and worsen the situation for human rights and democracy in Iran. As the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran is advocating through this event, the best way to resolve the situation is through direct dialogue at three levels - civil society, parliaments and heads of government."

"More and more hawks are reluctantly conceding that our intervention in Iraq was unwise, but they then insist that there isn't an easy way to cut and run now that we are there.  There may be no easy answer today, but there was an easy answer in 2003: not to start the war in the first place.  We have the option to not make that same mistake again.  Virtually every single argument for attacking Iran was used against Iraq.  It may be cliché, but the old adage 'Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.' comes to mind." Marcus Epstein, Executive Director of The American Cause

"This event is the right step forward in advocating for direct diplomacy with Iran. It is long past time to recognize that the administration's policy toward Iran is counterproductive in that it provides incentives for continuation of its uranium enrichment program and assistance to militia factions in Iraq," says Lt. General Robert Gard (Ret.), Chairman and Senior Military Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

"An attack by the United States on Iran would be a catastrophe for both countries and would have a devastating effect on the entire Middle East region.  Bombing nuclear sites would only delay, not eliminate, Iran's nuclear program and would virtually guarantee accelerated efforts to build a weapon for self-defense. Iran would certainly retaliate, closing the Straits of Hormuz and leading to a surge in oil prices. It would unleash a wave of attacks against US forces in neighboring Iraq and would exploit its relationship with Hezbollah to stage terrorist attacks against Israel and also possibly within the United States. It could destabilize neighboring Afghanistan. US response to Iranian resistance would likely result in huge civilian casualty levels," says Phil Giraldi, a former CIA Counter-terrorism specialist who currently is a contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine and a columnist for He continues, "In spite of the bellicose rhetoric coming mostly from Washington, the American people do not want another war, nor has the White House yet made a case that Iran poses a genuine threat against the United States. The Bush Administration has refused to negotiate outstanding issues unless Iran, as a precondition, surrenders on many key points, a tactic designed to guarantee that no talks will take place.  The danger that a new war in the Middle East will begin either by accident or by design is growing.  It is time to begin serious negotiations, before it is too late."

"There's just no reason not to try diplomacy. Its been far too long since the US and Iran sat down together to talk through our differences. The longer we continue to resist dialogue, the more difficult it becomes to build the trust necessary to move past the current crisis. Since we started this campaign we've received hundreds of messages from Iranians saying that they support talks, and recent polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support them as well. That's the purpose of this event: to show that it can be done. We've got people to people diplomacy, now we're getting congresspeople to people, and there's no reason it shouldn't be government representatives-to-representatives," says Nick Jehlen, Co-Founder, Lead Organizer, Enough Fear Campaign and one of the event's organizers.

"The spiraling crisis between Iran and the United States can only be eased through dialogue.  Angry demands and threats of military attack dangerously increase tension in a volatile region.  The path of direct negotiations without pre-conditions between the US and Iran is so low-cost that it seems folly not to try," says Stephen Kinzer, award-winning foreign correspondent and author of All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror.

"No unjust war ever produced a lasting peace. It hasn't in Iraq and it won't in Iran. Instead of another misguided rush to war we need a diplomatic surge for peace and reconciliation. That is why I have introduced H.R. 5056, the 'Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008,' which provides for the appointment of a high-level envoy empowered to conduct direct, unconditional, bilateral negotiations with Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations with Iran.  It's far past time to talk," says Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA, 9th District).

"The situation right now is ominously reminiscent of the pre-history of the war in Iraq. Some members of Congress have expressed the view that the president must obtain authorization from Congress prior to a military attack on Iran. That is absolutely necessary, but Congress should also push for vigorous diplomacy to ensure that the president never even asks. We are holding this event to send a clear message to Congress and the President that only authentic diplomatic overtures have the potential to resolve the standoff peacefully. Our civilian diplomatic 'hotlines' contain no preconditions and U.S. diplomatic overtures also should not have preconditions. Otherwise, the U.S. will remain on a confrontational footing vis-à-vis Iran, possibly culminating in another avoidable war that will have untold consequences for citizens in both countries," says Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and one of the event's organizers.

"What we need to do is to remove all non-military sanctions as well as all restrictions on NGO's and individual citizens engaging with Iranians.  We also need to continue to engage them diplomatically on issues relating to Iraq and Afghanistan. I also would suggest removing as much naval and other military forces from their borders and coast lines as possible as both a sign of good will and in order to limit the possibility of an accidental war. Iran as an ally is not fantasy but could be a reality especially with their changing demographics, cultural shift from dysfunctional pre-modern ideas to modern one's and the continued failures of their command and control economy run by the religious and technocratic elite." Michael D. Ostrolenk, President, American Conservative Defense Alliance

"This is precisely the kind of creative citizen diplomacy we need in a time where tensions are running high," says Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate. "We must send a message to the leaders of both countries that we do not want to see another disastrous war in the Middle East that will result in more suffering among women and children. Military action is not the answer and we demand a negotiated resolution to the standoff."

"It's essential that we ensure that the same President who manipulated his way into Iraq isn't allowed to double down and get us involved in another bloody quagmire in Iran," said Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). "The key to ending the stalemate with Iran is robust and vigorous diplomacy, not another military engagement that will further threaten our national security, and destabilize the region."

For more information or to support the event, please contact the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran at

... Payvand News - 06/10/08 ... --

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