By Thomas Ryan
FrontPageMagazine.com | July 9, 2007
The day after the United States celebrated its Independence, two American soldiers were killed in south Baghdad by an explosive projectile provided to Iraqi insurgents by Iran; in June, NATO officials caught Iran shipping heavy arms and C4 explosives to the Taliban in Afghanistan; earlier this year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the annihilation of Israel. With these facts, there can be little doubt about Iran’s virulent intentions. However, as the evidence against the Islamic Republic mounts, so are the groups speaking out in its defense, and now those same people who so fervidly defended Saddam’s Iraq are once again working to protect another unholy terror.
In 2004, radical activist Medea Benjamin announced that her group Code Pink, which was started to seek the “end the war in Iraq,” would help in donating a combined $600,000 in cash and medical supplies to the families of the terrorist insurgents who were fighting American troops in Fallujah. In recent months, Code Pink has begun a new campaign, titled “Prevent War with Iran!” “In recent years,” Code Pink’s website states, “the media has damaged Iran’s image so badly that when people hear the name of Iran, they only picture black chadors, terrorism, and ayatollahs. These stereotypes are being constructed to make it easier for governments to attack Iran with public approval.” With this belief, the organization is distributing flyers urging individuals to call their Congress members to vote against a war with Iran. One Code Pink activist is currently on a hunger strike, following Senator Joe Lieberman’s expressed belief that the U.S. should be prepared to take “aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.”
Other groups have initiated petitions in an effort to thwart an attack on another Middle Eastern country. Peace Action, the nation’s largest “grassroots peace and justice group,” as well as the group’s collegiate arm, the Student Peace Action Network, has begun a national petition drive against a military attack on Iran. The pre-written letter, which Peace Action is asking individuals to sign, is addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and states:
Iran’s current nuclear energy program is within [the Iranian’s] rights under international law. Even if Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon, experts agree that it would take several years. There is no crisis, and our government should not create one with inflammatory rhetoric or military threats that increase the incentive to develop nuclear weapons rather than reduce them.
It’s more than paradoxical that Peace Action would give a pass to Iran’s eagerness to develop nuclear weaponry, when the organization itself grew out of two organizations vehemently opposed to nuclear proliferation: the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, both Soviet-sponsored initiatives which sought to strip the U.S. of its defense arsenal during the Cold War. Peace Action, were also at the forefront of the movement against a war with Saddam, coordinating anti-Gulf War marches in 1991, and civil disobedience actions and protest rallies in 2002 and 2003.
Following in the footsteps of the anti-war and anti-sanctions group Voices in the Wilderness, which in the 1990’s made regular trips to Iraq, the “social, economic and environmental justice” organization Global Exchange has been conducting “Reality Tours” to Iran since 2000. The organization states that its “Reality Tours endow participants with a new vantage point from which to view and affect US foreign policy.” Their next trip, which costs participants $2,150, is slated to begin on July 7th and is being titled “Citizen Diplomacy.” Global Exchange’s write-up on the expedition states:
In this time of increased political tension between the U.S. and Iran, American travel to this misunderstood country helps establish the people-to-people ties that facilitate understanding and peace between the countries.
In its promotion of such trips to Iran, which the group believes is “extremely hospitable to Americans,” Global Exchange fails to mention Iran’s recent detention of four American peace activists who had been visiting the country. They also fail to address the status of former F.B.I. agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since March. In their efforts to promote “alternative, educational travel,” the organization also coordinates additional “Reality Tours” to Afghanistan, Cuba, Palestine, and Venezuela.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Christian pacifist group, has as well made a number of trips to Iran in recent years. Of one recent tour, Rev. Barbara E. Dua said, “Those making the trip to Iran believe that it is more important now [than] ever to support dialogue between Iran and the U.S. We desire peace and do not want the U.S. to go to war again based on erroneous information.” In the lead-up to the 2003 war against Saddam, the organization regularly condemned U.S. aggression but fell short of mentioning the seventeen United Nations Security Council Resolutions Saddam’s regime violated which, had they been followed, would have prevented the Iraq War. They also denounced the deaths of Iraqi civilians, whose blood they believe is on U.S. hands, but failed to deplore Saddam’s murdering of hundreds of thousands of his own countrymen.
Also contemplating a visit to Iran this October is Michael Moore. Iran has purportedly invited the leftist documentary filmmaker to take part in the country’s “Reality Cinema” film festival, where he’s been asked to show his film Sicko. According the Huffington Post, the invitation to attend had been handed down by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself. Moore’s sympathies have always lay with America’s enemies: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation,” he has declared, “are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.”
Meanwhile, while Global Exchange, Michael Moore, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation are planning trips to the Islamic Republic, a group of Iranian athletes are traveling across the globe, including stops in the U.S., to spread Iran’s “message of peace.” Miles for Peace is an assemblage of Iranian cyclists that is traveling to cities in Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. “to communicate the pacifist message of Iranian people to other nations around the world.” In an interview, one of the cyclists, Ali Nasri, said:
We do not want a single bomb to drop on Iran. We don’t want a single human killed…Perhaps before the attacks on Iraq, the Iraqi community did not have the facilities to speak out against the war by going to the US or they were not as strong as the Iranian community. There was talk of Saddam being behind 9/11 which many believed. Yet the Iraqis themselves were not as loud in saying how evidence was being fabricated to justify the attack and the invasion of their country. We are in the same situation today. Because of some undiplomatic rhetoric from certain politicians in Iran the whole country is shown as if it has built a nuclear bomb and its finger is on the red button ready to push.
Ironically, two weeks earlier, on June 3rd 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touted the pressing of a “countdown button” which would bring about “the destruction of the Zionist regime” of Israel. “By God’s will,” Ahmadinejad pronounced, “we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future.” This is certainly not the talk of a peace-loving people.