Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Comes After February 4?

Following a call to resist U.S. war moves against Iran, there has been a tremendous response, with over 50 rallies scheduled on February 4 around the U.S. and Canada to say "No Iran War!"

What happens after February 4?

In my opinion, February 4 should be used to make it clear that this is just the beginning ... and that Americans have embarked on sustained resistance to the attempts of the U.S. government to start yet another war!

One way for this to happen is for the organizers of the February 4 rally in every city to put a stake in the ground -- to announce there and then that a follow-up action will be taking place, within just a few weeks, and to call on those present to commit to work to make it TEN TIMES AS BIG!

A mass movement for PEACE!

I hope the need to do this is self-evident to everyone reading this, and I am confident that readers here have plenty of understanding of how to make this happen. But for the avoidance of doubt . . .

The New York Times Magazine made it very clear in "Will Israel Attack Iran," published on Sunday: Israel stands ready to attack Iran, and it is just waiting for a nod of approval from the United States.

If the question is what signals Obama and Congress will be sending, I think few people hold out any hope that Israel will not perceive a green light. And no one has any illusions that Obama or Congress will be responsive to wiser counsel or the preponderance of public opinion. (And as for the mainstream media -- fuggedaboutit!)

So the challenge before us is to create public demonstrations of disapproval that are strong enough to outweigh the appearance of consent that is being transmitted by our "leaders." What is required is not just your run-of-the-mill antiwar demonstration; even the largest of the Occupy actions are just not enough. We need Tahrir Square levels of participation, and we need it to be sustained.

If we cannot do this, the politicians and generals are going to start another hot war. With nuclear weapons in the mix. It's as simple as that.


I would like to be able to say that with email and Facebook and Twitter, we will be able to turn out big numbers. Unfortunately, I think it's going to take more than that. I think we are actually going to have to talk to people.

I have a friend who has this question appended below his name on every email:

P.S.: Have you called a stranger
with the sole purpose of discussing
the difficult situation we're all in?
( I ask all the time .)

It's embarrassing to have to contemplate, but I fear we have forgotten how to talk with our neighbors. All of our social media (yes, even blogs like this) make us soft, because we never have to come face-to-face with someone who might disagree with our views.

It's time to brace ourselves for conversations with real people again.

I believe that the key to seeing eye-to-eye with our neighbors on the need to avoid war lies in sharing some simple facts. There seems to be a great deal of "controversy" over Iran these days, but what I believe most people will grasp very easily are a small number of key, uncontroversial facts.

In my view, a great deal of progress can be made -- whether in one-on-one conversations or in larger settings, such as teach-ins* -- by putting certain facts on the table in non-argumentative ways. People find common ground based on shared facts, not by wearing each other down about differences of opinion.

Nuclear threat

Several types of fact need to be much more widely distributed, considered, and discussed.

(1) What are the real numbers? Most people are aware that there are already several countries that have nuclear arsenals, but most have lost track -- if they ever had any accurate sense -- of what the real numbers are. It is impossible to have a rational discussion about reducing nuclear threat without a baseline understanding of the current nuclear threat.

(2) What's the "deal" with non-proliferation? I have just started reading Mohamed ElBaradei's book, "The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times". It made me realize that most of us don't know the facts about what various nations have agreed to with respect to non-proliferation, and what the quid pro quo's are. Without a serious consideration of those facts, it is truly impossible to contemplate certain nations forgoing nuclear weapons development.

(3) How are we doing? As U.S. citizens, our expectation that the future will be free of nuclear conflict cannot but be highly conditioned on the evaluation of others of nuclear arms reduction treaties that have already been carried out. Are we giving the world a basis for confidence?**
* * * * *
If we are able to avert war with Iran, it will because we have made a commitment to develop a large resistance to U.S. wars . . . and done the difficult work of having real conversations with many, many people . . . starting with an effort to get some basic facts in front of a much larger number of people than currently are aware of them.

* More resources for teach-ins on avoiding war with Iran.

** "Are we giving the world a basis for confidence?" Enough facts. Here's my opinion about how we look to the rest of the world.

Related posts

There's a lot more to Iran than we've been exposed to by the U.S. foreign policy narrative.

(See Feb 4 - Resources about Iran )

As the Obama administration prepares in the days ahead to pivot from its focus on Syria to something truly startling -- talking to Iran! -- it is important that the American public devotes some time and energy to learning and thinking about Iran, the history of the U.S.-Iran relationship, and what the U.S.-Iran relationship means in the larger context of the effort to reduce the risk of war and violence in the world.

(See IRAN: 3 Reality Checks on the Emerging U.S. Narrative)

I believe when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine and said "Remember me this way," he was much more interested in encouraging us to keep having conversations -- conversations that really matter -- with others . . . and finding ways to be in relationship with our neighbors  . . . all the while reminding us "never underestimate the power of food"  . . .

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry)