Published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on April 16, 2012
While visiting the United States last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The Jewish state will not allow those who seek Israel's destruction the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear-armed Iran must be stopped." Netanyahu thereby asserted that Israel has a right to a first military strike against Iran.
Such military action would be a violation of international law, would do nothing to ensure the safety of Israelis, and likely would draw our country into another costly and pointless war in the Middle East. Support for a first strike against Iran should be taken off the table by the Obama administration and Congress.
The Charter of the United Nations, which the United States signed in 1945, is part of the "supreme law of the land" under our Constitution. That charter does not permit unprovoked military strikes by one nation against another. A military first strike against Iran would be just as illegal under international law as was the Bush administration's first strike against Iraq in 2003.
Moreover, every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program. There can be no pretext this time around the notion that Iran is developing "weapons of mass destruction."
Even if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons in the future, its leaders would not dare use them against Israel. Ever since former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu took his story to the Sunday Times in 1986, it has been an open secret that Israel has a significant nuclear arsenal of between 100 and 200 warheads. If Iran were ever to use a nuclear weapon against Israel, it would invite massive retaliation upon itself. A nuclear-armed Iran would be no more of an "existential threat" to Israel than a nuclear-armed Pakistan is to India.
On the other hand, a first strike against Iran's nuclear research facilities by either Israel or the United States certainly would have a devastating impact on the people of Iran. Such a strike also would result in devastating effects on the U.S. military service members who would undoubtedly be sent in afterward to try to stabilize the country. Haven't we already been down this road in the recent past? Wouldn't it make more sense for the United States and Israel to engage Iran in negotiations to resolve differences among the three countries than to start another Middle East war?
On April 24, Strength Through Peace will sponsor a teach-in on the current Iran crisis at 7 p.m. at the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship. The teach-in will feature Nader Hashemi, assistant professor of Middle East and Islamic politics at the University of Denver; Thomas Mayer, emeritus professor of sociology and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder; and Mohammad Kalantari, a Fort Collins resident of Iranian descent who recently has returned from visiting friends and family in Iran. The speakers will address historical antecedents to the current crisis, basic elements of the current crisis, the present situation inside Iran and anti-war organizing in the United States. All are welcome to attend this free event.
For more information, contact STP at (970) 419-8944 or via email at email@example.com.
Kevin Cross is a resident of Fort Collins and a member of the Strength Through Peace Steering Committee.