An Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran

Dear Senator Obama,

We the undersigned may have different views on U.S. foreign policy with respect to Iran.  We all, however, are deeply concerned about the stories in the press in the past few weeks suggesting that the Bush administration might be considering a military strike on Iran, that it might give a green light to such an attack by Israel, or that it might engage in other acts of war, such as imposing a blockade against Iran.

We welcomed your stand against the war on Iraq in 2002.  And we were encouraged by your early campaign statements emphasizing diplomacy over military action against Iran.  Today, you have an opportunity to forestall a repeat of the tragic Iraq war.  We hope you will use that opportunity.

We agree with the conclusion of Muhammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that “A military strike . . . would be worse than anything possible.  It would turn the region into a fireball. . . .”  A military attack, he said, “will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build nuclear weapons with the blessing of all Iranians, even those in the West” (Reuters, June 20, 2008.).

We don’t know, of course, whether an attack on Iran is in fact being considered, or if there are serious plans to initiate other acts of war, such as a blockade of the country.  But we call on you to issue a public statement warning of the grave dangers that any of these actions would entail, and pointing out how inappropriate and undemocratic it would be for the Bush administration to undertake them, or encourage Israel to do so, in its closing months in office.

An attack on Iran would violate the UN Charter’s prohibition against the use or threat of force and the Congress’s authority to declare war.  Moreover, the public right to decide should not be foreclosed by last-minute actions of the Bush administration, which will set U.S. policy in stone now.

We were heartened by your earlier comments suggesting that an Obama administration would act on the understanding that genuine security requires a willingness to talk without preconditions (something Iran has offered several times to no avail), and that threats and military action are counterproductive.  We hope you will follow through on these commitments once in office, but also that you will speak out now against any acts of war by the Bush administration.


Please join these signatories and sign below

(organizations listed for identification purposes only)

Michael Albert, ZNet

Cathy Albisa, exec. director, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative

John W. Amidon, U.S. Veterans for Peace

Stanley Aronowitz, Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY

Rosalyn Baxandall, Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY Old Westbury

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies

Stephen Eric Bronner, Professor (II) of Political Science, Rutgers University

Charlotte Bunch, exec. director, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers Univ.

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (retired), MIT

Ray Close, retired CIA Middle East specialist; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Rhonda Copelon, Professor of Law, CUNY Law School

Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia Univ.

Lawrence Davidson, Professor of Middle East History, West Chester Univ.

Ariel Dorfman, author

Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY

John Feffer, co-director, Foreign Policy in Focus

Bill Fletcher, Jr., exec. editor,

Libby Frank, Women’s Internat’l League for Peace & Freedom, Philadelphia

Arthur Goldschmidt, Professor emeritus of Middle East History, Penn State Univ.

Tom Hayden, author

Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer

Doug Ireland, journalist

James E. Jennings, exec. director, U.S. Academics for Peace

Nikki Keddie, UCLA (emeritus), historian, Iran specialist

Janet Kestenberg Amighi, v.p., CDR (sponsor of Holocaust child survivor research)

Rabbi Michael Lerner, chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives; editor, Tikkun mag.

Mark LeVine, Prof. of Modern Middle Eastern History, Culture and Islamic Studies, U. Cal., Irvine

Manning Marable, director, Center for Contemporary Black History, Columbia Univ.

David McReynolds, former chair, War Resisters Internat’l

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Prof. of Poli. Sci., Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY

Rachel Pfeffer, interim exec. director, Jewish Voices for Peace

Katha Pollitt, writer

Danny Postel, No War on Iran Coalition, Chicago

Matthew Rothschild, editor, The Progressive magazine

Stephen R. Shalom, Prof. of Poli. Sci., William Paterson Univ.

(Rev.) David Whitten Smith, Univ. of St. Thomas, Minnesota (emeritus)

Meredith Tax, writer; president, Women’s WORLD

Michael J. Thompson, editor of Logos

Chris Toensing, editor, Middle East Report

Cornel West, Professor, Princeton University

Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics, Univ. of San Francisco

Click here to sign the petition.

For more information about this petition, please contact Janet Amighi or Steve Shalom at <>.

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