By Julia Murray, NIAC
Washington, DC - Members of Congress chatting to Iranians on bright red telephones is not what you expect to see on Capitol Hill. However, that is what happened when the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) held its "Time to Talk to Iran" event last Tuesday. People spoke directly to ordinary Iranians to show their support for dialogue with the country, not military action. As Congresswoman Barbara Lee said, "It is time to talk to Iran. All it takes to begin is one hello."
The message was clear: All it takes to avoid war with Iran is to start talking. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey said, "An attack on Iran would be disastrous for our region and the world." She looked to Iraq as evidence against further military action in the Middle East because "our occupation has emboldened our enemies and alienated our friends."
Bob Barr, a former Congressman (R-GA) and the current Libertarian Party nominee for President, said that it is illogical to let US-Iranian relations deteriorate due to the strategic importance of Iran. In his telephone conversation he talked of his hope for "more rational and productive diplomacy."
Project on Middle East Democracy Advocacy
Director Stephen McInerney
converses with an Iranian Citizen (read the report)
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee emphasized that the Iranian leadership does not represent the Iranian people. She spoke in favor of "a free, independent and democratic Iran" and called for "a diplomatic surge" to help Iranians "take the government of Iran back." Later in the day, Jackson Lee mentioned her telephone conversation with Miryam, a 22-year-old designer in Tehran, as part of her remarks on the House floor.
It was "people to people diplomacy" at play. The Iranians on the other end of the line volunteered after learning about the event through emails, word of mouth and after similar initiatives took place in Boston and New York. Participants generally spoke about everyday subjects but also politics. The Iranian woman who spoke to Jackson Lee told her that "the people (of Iran) want peace and democracy," while a student in Tehran said that he hoped that one day there would be normalized relations between the U.S. and Iranian governments.
"Time to Talk to Iran" was held in conjunction with a nationwide call-in day, during which groups, including NIAC, urged the public to call their Representatives and Senators in order to voice their support for diplomacy, rather than war, with Iran.
To comment on or further discuss this topic, please see the NIAC Staff's blog at niacINsight.com
... Payvand News - 06/18/08 ... --