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Church of the Brethren

Preventing War with Iran
February 21, 2012

Last week, the call to action from this office was to put an end to the longest war in the history of the United States. This week, it is time to be proactive, and act to prevent the next one. The standoff with Iran over its nuclear program is highly volatile. Urge the Obama administration to commit to active diplomacy, giving inspections and targeted sanctions time to work in Iran, and telling Israel not to make a pre-emptive attack on Iran.

Our 1977 Annual Conference Statement “Justice and Nonviolence” reads:

The world confronts us with the temptation to use violence in war, to acquiesce and participate in structural violence, and to support violent revolution against structural violence. Although we seek to identify with the oppressed, to these three types of violence we make a uniform response: the Scriptures call us to reject all forms of violence and to undertake nonviolent acts to exercise our commitment to human liberation and justice. We must be vigilant against that which would seduce us to use the very means against which we must struggle. Such a nonviolent response is rooted in the call to radical discipleship; it calls us to take risks and to transform our own lives and human institutions for the sake of God's justice but it does not destroy life or close off the possibility of genuine reconciliation (nurtured in mishpat and shalom) with an oppressor after the oppression is ended.

It is time to put action behind those words, and seek nonviolent solutions. In a recent interview President Obama said the U.S. “will do everything we can” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He would not rule out military action, but he added, “[o]ur goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically. That would be preferable.”

There is still room for diplomacy to work. Iran is not determined to go to war. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has allowed UN inspectors on the ground to investigate its nuclear facilities.

However pressure is building in the region. The U.S. is sending a third aircraft carrier group to the region to prevent Iran from disrupting the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. This waterway facilitates up to a quarter of the world’s oil, and a blockade would have a severe global impact, perhaps doubling the price of oil.

Even if the U.S. averts a confrontation at sea, Israel may not wait for United Nations’ nuclear inspectors before deciding to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Israel took unilateral strikes against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 to knock out their nuclear facilities. But an Israeli airstrike against Iran risks enflaming the region. Hezb’allah could attack Israel from Lebanon. Syria’s regime, currently divided against its people, may regain support if it joins the fight. The U.S. would enter the war if Israel is attacked.  Widespread conflict in the Middle East would cause massive deaths, as well as jeopardize the fragile global economy and the tenuous reforms of the “Arab Spring.”

Tell President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Panetta to urge Israel not to strike Iran and risk provoking a widespread conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. should give UN nuclear inspections and targeted and specific economic sanctions time to work

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Church of the Brethren Policy: 1977 Annual Conference Statement “Justice and Nonviolence” reads:

The world confronts us with the temptation to use violence in war, to acquiesce and participate in structural violence, and to support violent revolution against structural violence. Although we seek to identify with the oppressed, to these three types of violence we make a uniform response: the Scriptures call us to reject all forms of violence and to undertake nonviolent acts to exercise our commitment to human liberation and justice. We must be vigilant against that which would seduce us to use the very means against which we must struggle. Such a nonviolent response is rooted in the call to radical discipleship; it calls us to take risks and to transform our own lives and human institutions for the sake of God's justice but it does not destroy life or close off the possibility of genuine reconciliation (nurtured in mishpat and shalom) with an oppressor after the oppression is ended.

We cannot retreat from the world. We are to move from where we are to where God's power and purpose have begun to define new possibilities and new necessities. We must become aware of the rampant injustice and subtle hidden violence in today's world, examine our own involvement, and identify non-violently with the oppressed and suffering.

We must develop a theology of living here and now in the spirit of the kingdom. We look toward a future that will be more peaceful, just, and respectful of God's creation. We who are of the body of Christ, an incarnation of God's reconciling and redeeming love in the world; are called to be a channel of God's loving justice. Wherever brokenness among people exists, we are called to participate in God's work of healing; wherever people suffer from oppression, we are to work for God's act of liberation; and wherever people are deprived of basic human needs and opportunities we are called to God's work of humanization. We are called to live the life of God's agape in the world because Christ is our Lord.

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Jordan Blevins, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

Jordan Blevins
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
jblevins@brethren.org
202-481-6943

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission Partnerships and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Jordan Blevins at jblevins@brethren.org. Contact Global Mission Partnerships at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org.

© 2012 Church of the Brethren.