Now that a nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers has been reached, the U.S. anti-war base faces a critical opening to mobilize and prevent hawkish lawmakers in Congress from sabotaging a historic opportunity for military de-escalation, campaigners urged Tuesday.
"It is hugely important that people who don't want war with Iran in the future speak up now in defense of the deal," Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, told Common Dreams.
The pact between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union—announced Tuesday—is the product of years of difficult negotiations, and decades of hostility and U.S. aggression.
Public polling shows that the deal has majority support among the U.S. public. Furthermore, many from Iranian civil society have called for an agreement, which they say provides a critical path to relief from devastating sanctions, isolation, and the threat of war.
However, Congress could still derail the diplomatic process. Thanks to recently-passed legislation, the U.S. House and Senate will have 60 days to review the final agreement. If lawmakers were to vote against the deal, and amass the votes to override a presidential veto, Obama's hands would be tied on sanctions relief and the deal would sink.
Moreover, while public opinion is on the side of the agreement, opponents of diplomacy are powerful and better-funded. A shadowy network of pro-war lobby organizations is spending millions of dollars on targeted advertisements aimed at persuading lawmakers and their constituents to reject the agreement. Furthermore, hawks from U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are already loudly denouncing the accord.
"Congress has been hearing more from opponents of the deal, because the opposition is deeply entrenched, has lots of money, and has been doing this for a long time," Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council told Common Dreams. "I'm confident we can change that dynamic. We can mobilize millions of Americans to advance peace."
U.S.-based organizations including Just Foreign Policy, Win Without War, Peace Action, and Jewish Voice for Peace released calls to action Tuesday urging opponents of war to mobilize to protect the deal.
A petition from organizations including CODEPINK and Roots Action urging "Defend the Iran deal and stop Republicans from starting a war with Iran" already has over 34,000 signatures.
Stephen Miles, advocacy director for Win Without War, declared in a press statement on Tuesday that those pushing for escalation towards Iran are using the same dangerous logic that fueled the Iraq War: "We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. We will not stand idly by while those who pushed for war with Iraq try to push us into war with Iran."
"Our focus is on holding the Democrats in the Senate who have supported the negotiations thus far," said Abdi. "We can afford to lose five Democrats. We can loose Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and a few others and still prevent a resolution of disapproval from passing."
In the House, 146 voting Democrats signed a letter saying they will approve the deal, added Abdi. "We want to hold those 146 and also expand that list," he explained.
Campaigners note that the deal is not a sure-fire path to peace, and it will take active and engaged civil society groups and social movements to put the United States and Iran on a real path to justice.
In an article published Tuesday in The Intercept, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain wrote that "much Iranian public opinion, while positive, is more nuanced and guarded," with some holding the view that the deal "unfairly impinges on Iranian sovereignty in exchange for very few legitimate concessions."
A report released last month by the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran found that, among civil society leaders, support for the deal is strong, even among those skeptical that benefits will be fairly distributed.
"For a number of years, Iran's international isolation and all the excuses for putting pressure on our country, particularly the sanctions, have destroyed the Iranian people's psychological security, and have left them preoccupied, and of course, many people have suffered direct or indirect loss," said Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, described in the report as a civil activist and wife of political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh.
Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, emphasized to Common Dreams that—right now—mobilizing to support the Iran deal is a critical way for U.S. civil society members to "show solidarity" with their Iranian counterparts.
"In general there is a lot of relief in Iran that an agreement has been reached," said Ghaemi, emphasizing that "ordinary people have been suffering tremendously under sanctions." In addition, an agreement could open up space to open up space to focus on domestic issues of repression and inequality, said Ghaemi.