After Iran followed through with its vow to retaliate for the U.S. assassination last week of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, peace advocates on Tuesday night condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's role in putting Iran and the United States on the precipice of all-out-war and called for an immediate de-escalation of violence and rhetoric on all sides.
"We urge all parties—Iran and the United States—to immediately halt all military action and reject an unnecessary and costly war of choice," said Stephen Miles, executive director for the U.S.-based anti-war group Win Without War, in a statement. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms military escalation by both the Iranian and U.S. militaries."
"If we have learned anything from almost two decades of destructive, fruitless, endless wars, now is the time to act like it." —Stephen Miles, Win Without WarWhile "this escalating cycle of violence was an entirely predictable response to Donald Trump's reckless and unnecessary decision to choose war over diplomacy with Iran," Miles continued, the "time for de-escalation is now."
With reports indicating that Tuesday night's bombing could touch off further violence in the region—from the United Arab Emirates, where the U.S. has jet fighters stationed, to Israel and Lebanon, where Hezbollah has vowed backing for Iran—international concern grew rapidly that the situation could quickly escalate out of control.
"War with Iran would be both disastrous and futile. It could lead to the further destabilization of an entire region and unleash massive human suffering," said Miles. "If we have learned anything from almost two decades of destructive, fruitless, endless wars, now is the time to act like it."
Now, he added, Trump and his administration face a stark choice: "continue down the highly unpopular path of war or change course and embrace diplomacy. The people of the United States and the region do not want war. Now is the time to end the cycle of military retaliation, walk back aggressive rhetoric, and engage meaningfully in a diplomatic process for peace."
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) also spoke out. In addition to saying her thoughts and prayers were with U.S. service members possibly in harms way, she said the attack by the Iranians "was exactly what we feared" would result from Trump's reckless decision to kill Soleimani and other Iranian officials last week.
"It's past time to change course, embrace diplomacy, and focus on ending the wars we entered two decades ago instead of provoking another disastrous, unnecessary war the world cannot afford." —Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)"This cycle of violence can quickly spiral out of control and escalate into Trump’s full-blown war with Iran," Lee said in a statement. "Make no mistake, Trump chose reckless military action over diplomacy—and this is the result."
Lee urged all parties to "immediately halt the violence" and called on Trump to work with U.S. allies to find a path to de-escalate the situation. "It's past time to change course, embrace diplomacy, and focus on ending the wars we entered two decades ago instead of provoking another disastrous, unnecessary war the world cannot afford," she said.
Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) were also among those calling for immediate restraint and a path towards peace:
"None of our daughters or sons in the military, nor the innocent Iraqi people, deserve more war and violence," tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). "Congress must act now to stop this madness."
In a statement also emphasizing that "Trump owns this 100%," the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) said, "Our thoughts are with all the people who will be harmed by this senseless and needless conflict. It is ordinary Iranians, Iraqis, and people across the region who will bear a profound cost that can't be justified. So too will American soldiers, and their families here at home, who will bear the consequences of yet another war that was thrust upon them by callous leaders."
"It's always the people of the Middle East who are the hardest-hit victims of US aggression. THIS MUST STOP." —Medea Benjamin, CodePinkNIAC called on "the international community and the United Nations to do everything in its power to find a diplomatic resolution to these hostilities before the entire region erupts in war."
With early reports indicating that casualties at the al-Asad military base targeted by Iranian missiles were Iraqis and not U.S. soldiers, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin said, "It's always the people of the Middle East who are the hardest-hit victims of US aggression. THIS MUST STOP."
With major anti-war protests already scheduled nationwide for Thursday of this week, groups intensified their calls for the American people to speak out against the possibility of war based on Trump's dangerous and reckless leadership.
On behalf of CodePink and other local groups in the U.S. capitol, Benjamin urged people close to Washington, D.C. to not wait and join protests outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon. She also said that if Trump is trying to cure his domestic political problems—namely the looming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate by fostering a "wag the dog" military campaign in the Middle East—such a sickening and criminal ploy would hopefully backfire.
"If escalating this conflict with Iran was Trump's idea of distracting from impeachment," she said, "he has now given Congress the most egregious reason to impeach him—dragging us into a senseless, catastrophic war with Iran."