Alejandro Alvarez PHOTO/ARTICLE, Ford Fischer VIDEO
With tensions soaring between the U.S. and Iran, a coalition of anti-war activists took to the White House on Sunday in a call for President Donald Trump to keep what has so far been a war of words and sanctions from exploding into armed conflict.
CODEPINK and the ANSWER Coalition, two prominent left-wing activist collectives describing themselves as anti-war and anti-imperialist, rallied about 50 people near the White House’s north lawn.
Their proposal for conflict resolution is two-fold: Drop sanctions and reinstate the Obama administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — widely known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“We are very glad that President Trump said he didn’t want to kill 150 people, and called off this latest round of bombing in Iran,” CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin said, after Trump aborted an attack against Iranian anti-air assets moments before it would have been carried out on Thursday.
Benjamin accused the Trump administration, specifically National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of orchestrating economic warfare by abruptly withdrawing from the Iran deal.
“We know that every single day, people are being killed in Iran because of the sanctions,” she said. “You know sanctions are a form of warfare, right?”
Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump opted to leave the deal in 2017. He deemed it unfair to the U.S. and insufficient to prevent the Islamic Republic from building a nuclear weapon. A proposal for an improved deal has yet to materialize.
With sanctions growing progressively more strict, the U.S. and Iran have spent the better part of two years moving further apart diplomatically and closer to open conflict.
Tensions rose in the Gulf of Oman this month when two tankers were damaged by explosions, which the U.S. Navy alleges were caused by Iranian limpet mines.
Last week, a Global Hawk surveillance drone was shot down by the Iranian military, who said it violated their airspace — a claim the Pentagon categorically denies, saying the drone had been flying within international airspace.
With the situation deteriorating, CODEPINK sent out a call on Friday for what it called an emergency action to prevent war.
Boasting a tight-knit community, anti-war activists in D.C. have proven quick to organize, and three days later several dozen people stood outside the White House to oppose a conflict.
Among them was Brian Becker, director of the ANSWER Coalition, who likened “warmongering” American political messaging on Iran to the early days of the Vietnam war.
“Are we going to let these lunatics drag us into another Vietnam War,” Becker asked, implicating MSNBC and Fox News as media outlets serving the “military-industrial complex” through bellicose rhetoric.
With Iran’s military capability surpassing that of Iraq and Afghanistan, Becker fears a lack of foresight with Iran could spark a prolonged bloodbath for both sides.
“The thing about imperialism, and these imperialists, is they seem to remember everything and learn nothing,” he said, pointing to the White House.
“They actually believe that because they have the biggest military in the world, the formerly colonized people will surrender — but this is not the 19th century.”
On Sunday, Bolton traveled to Jerusalem for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and said Iran should not “mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness” following Trump’s decision to rescind a strike.
Trump headed to Camp David for consultations with senior advisors on Iran this weekend, while the Washington Post reports a U.S.-sanctioned cyberattack recently sought to cripple Iran’s missile control systems.
During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” airing Sunday, Trump said he preferred to seek a deal but had not ruled out military action, telling host Chuck Todd: “I’m not looking for war, and if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”