Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Defusing Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Without War

April 19, 2006

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is troubled by the increasingly hostile and militant posture of the United States towards Iran, including talk of pre-emptive military action. Once again, a country that has not attacked anyone is being threatened with attack, possibly involving nuclear weapons. As a rationale, the U.S. administration claims to possess proof that the Iranian government’s effort to acquire nuclear technology is in fact a plan to produce nuclear weapons.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation abhors all war, particularly a pre-emptive war with a manufactured rationale. The war against Iraq is such a war, and it has proven disastrous, wreaking destruction and misery on Iraq, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 2,400 U.S. troops, and leaving the Middle East more unstable and volatile than ever before.

It is not certain that Iran will escalate its nuclear program beyond its stated purpose of providing nuclear power (which in itself is an unfortunate choice in this 20th anniversary year of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster). Even if it wished to, most experts maintain that it will be 5 to 10 years before Iran could produce a nuclear weapon. But the U.S. administration would have us think otherwise – as it did about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Most major powers, including U.S. allies, rightly favor ongoing diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue. This approach is in keeping with FOR’s faith-based commitment to nonviolent resolution of conflict, and should be applauded. Sadly, the U.S. administration seems to place precious little faith in diplomacy, as it demonstrated in the case of Iraq, with such appalling consequences. With such a credibility deficit, any reason offered to justify a pre-emptive war against Iran should be treated with the greatest skepticism.

As bad as the war on Iraq has been, attacking Iran would be even more disastrous. It would cause a new wave of anti-American sentiment among Muslims and more militant operations against U.S. targets worldwide. Iran plays a leadership role for over 120 million Shiite Muslims, who are scattered in various Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere. Attacking the home of Shiite Islam would only heighten religious violence.

As an organization committed to building ties with the people of Iran, the Fellowship of Reconciliation believes that the best way to support the Iranian people in their quest for full democracy and global participation is through empowering civil society, promoting cultural exchange, and listening respectfully to Iranian needs and expectations. Bullying and bombs will not promote the kind of mutual respect and global peace we all seek. The United States should drop its bellicose attitude and try a non-military approach, in which respect for the humanity of the people of both nations is upheld.

The Iranian government, for its part, could work to establish this trust by avoiding some of the unhelpful rhetoric that has recently emanated from Tehran. A more constructive and compassionate tone, one that reflects the spirit of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and regional friendship, would go a long way towards building trust internationally. Iran is an ancient nation with a rich history and diverse religious and ethnic culture. The political language from Tehran should highlight the generous spirit of this civilization, a spirit that a recent FOR delegation to Iran experienced so warmly.

In the final analysis, the United States remains the owner of the biggest stockpile of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons worldwide. As such, it has no moral authority to force other nations to eschew nuclear power for fear they might develop nuclear weapons of their own. The FOR believes all nations, including the United States, should move toward a safer world by getting rid of their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. Only then will they have the moral right to encourage non-nuclear nations not to acquire them in the first place.

Contact: Hossein Alizadeh 845-358-4601

©2006 Fellowship of Reconciliation

Founding of the Fellowship

In 1914, an ecumenical conference was held in Switzerland by Christians seeking to prevent the outbreak of war in Europe. Before the conference ended, however, World War I had started and those present had to return to their respective countries. At a railroad station in Germany, two of the participants, Henry Hodgkin, an English Quaker, and Friedrich Sigmund-Schultze, a German Lutheran, pledged to find a way of working for peace even though their countries were at war. Out of this pledge Christians gathered in Cambridge, England in December 1914 to found the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The US FOR was founded one year later, in 1915.

The FOR has since become an interfaith and international movement with branches and groups in over 40 countries and on every continent. Today the membership of FOR includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and people of other faith traditions, as well as those with no formal religious affiliation.

Fellowship of Reconciliation
Leads 2nd Peace Mission to Iran

Despite the rise in tensions between the United States and Iran, and talk of sanctions or military intervention, the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s second interfaith peace delegation is now in Iran meeting with ordinary Iranians, and exchanging with them firsthand viewpoints on the relationship of their two countries.

The delegation, which has been in Iran since May 9 and returns May 20, is part of FOR’s ongoing commitment to working for peace, justice, and the nonviolent resolution of conflict.

Press Release

Delegation Reports

FOR's Iran program


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