Give diplomacy a chance

We, the undersigned, represent the views of a diverse grouping of Iranian expatriates in the United States, the UK and elsewhere in the West.  Some of us have vastly different views regarding the current government in Iran; we are individually members of many different political parties; we do not all agree on how best to reach stability in the Middle East.  But we all feel a connection with both our homes in the West and the finest core values of the societies in which we are living, and with the country of Iran and its cultural traditions, whether we came by these ties by birth, heritage or friendship.

Moreover, we are united in our firmly-held opinion that military confrontation will do nothing to solve the problems that exist between Iran and the West, but rather that such an approach would create a ghastly long-term dynamic in the region.  Assaults, invasion, bombing, cross-border raids or destabilizing acts on the part of any of the players in the situation will mean that the present troubles will be eclipsed by far more destruction and loss-of-life than we have seen to date in the region.

The way forward must be through serious and genuine dialogue.  The rhetoric of mutual demonization, reckless threats and brinksmanship must be left out of that dialogue.  Negotiations must be based on the recognition of the legitimate concerns of all parties for physical security, economic security (including energy security) and national sovereignty. 

Just as stability and recovery in Iraq will not be advanced by sectarian strife that is a proxy for wider conflicts, neither will advancement of civil society in Iran be furthered by outside intervention.  Whether done with sudden, overwhelming and devastating force, or in a gradual, step-by-step series of increasingly invasive actions, a military assault on Iran would have catastrophic and long-lasting impacts on the people of Iran and prospects for democracy there, on the security of its neighbors including Israel, on US armed forces in the region and on US national interest and global standing, and on relations between the Muslim world and the West – already at an historic nadir.

We urge the leaders of the U.S., the U.K. and Iran to set aside all pre-conditions and resume direct and open negotiations on all issues of dispute, to bring about a lowering of tensions, to create an opening for meaningful progress toward understanding, and to envision a Middle East in which all its residents can coexist and together address the common problems of violence, poverty, illness and environmental degradation. 

We urge the people of the US, the UK and all countries in the Middle East – all men and women of conscience and character — to press their leadership to be responsible and statesmanlike during this time of great danger, for it is the children, the innocents and civil society that always ultimately pay the price of our failure to do so.

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