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Iran’s Reformists: ‘This War Will Have Only Losers’

Eric Lafforgue/Corbis via Getty Images
Parents at the tomb of their son killed in the Iran–Iraq War at the Martyrs’ Cemetery, Isfahan, Iran, 2016

The consequences of waging another Middle Eastern war will be catastrophic not only for our country, Iran, but for the United States and its regional allies. It will lead to untold human suffering, environmental disaster, and a prolonged conflict that will forestall the possibility of peaceful coexistence and prosperity in the Persian Gulf area for decades to come. As veteran members of the reformist movement in Iran, we are also concerned about the mortal blow that even a limited military conflict with the United States of America will deal to the democratic movement of Iran. We can already feel the restrictions that the crisis of the last two years has imposed on the fragile civil society and peaceful political activity in Iran. 

The international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program known as the JCPOA was devised as a comprehensive framework for addressing security concerns of all regional and international parties represented by the Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Our constituency was elated by the rapprochement between Iran and its most visible adversary, the United States of America. Likewise, they were disappointed when President Trump chose to withdraw from that agreement, which included verifiable guarantees of nuclear nonproliferation and strictly peaceful use of nuclear energy by Iran. It is imperative that we return to the mode of peaceful diplomatic dialogue and eschew the path of conflict.

As Iranian reformists, we are convinced that the JCPOA should figure prominently in any future dialogue. Sanctions must be lifted, and aggressive gestures and actions should be replaced with dignified and respectful engagement. We call upon all parties to the JCPOA to respect the spirit and conclusions of that agreement as a preamble to further negotiations that are necessary to prevent conflict. We also call upon the politicians on both sides, the international community, and its institutions to take a more proactive stance in order to replace saber-rattling and gunboat diplomacy with respectful diplomatic interaction.

History cannot be undone but the future is still unwritten. The horrific prospect of endangering American troops in an Iranian campaign that would dwarf the conflicts in Syria and Iraq must be alarming to all Americans. Iranians, too, dread a return to a period reminiscent of the bitter Iran–Iraq War, whose victims still live among us. No Iranian wants his or her homeland marked on military maps and radar screens as a field of targets for devastating bombs and infernal missiles.

There are people on both sides of the political and ideological divide between Iran and the US who are convinced that they will benefit from the business of war with Iran. They are wrong. This war will have only losers. The vicious counsel of warmongers must give way to the calm voices of peace and reconciliation. Retaliation and revenge have never worked for humankind. We believe in the old English adage that “an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.” We follow the sage advice of our national epic by the poet Ferdowsi, Shahnameh. It was composed more than a thousand years ago but its message is still relevant. 

Be relentless in striving for the cause of good
Bring the spring, you must,
Banish the winter, you should.