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Calls for Dialogue in the Iran Crisis

Alongside condemnation of the unacceptable anti-Semitic policy of the Iranian president, the policy of encircling and isolating Iran with the goal of its humiliation should be criticizd. Renunciation on force and non-aggression guarantees are crucial.
CALL TO POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE IN THE IRAN CRISIS

Declaration of the Pax Christi Vice-President Johannes Schnettler

By Pax Christi

[This declaration of the international peace organization Pax Christi published February 8, 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de/.]



Given the escalating violence in countries of the Middle East, a necessary and sensible discussion of religious tolerance and freedom of opinion on one side and functionalization of wounded religious feelings for political goals on the other side must be clearly distinguished. Where people are killed and houses set on fire, the demonstrations have long gone beyond the real cause of the anger, the Mohammed-caricatures. An immediate connection exists to the Iran crisis in which a verbal political escalation is pursued on the Islamic side. For their part, the "western" governments may not fall into the error of provocation. De-activating the tone and contents and speaking about real differences of interest are crucial. Arrogant language is prohibited in view of the West's human rights violations and involvement in war. Alongside condemnation of the unacceptable anti-Semitic policy of the Iranian president, the policy of encircling and isolating Iran with the goal of its humiliation should be criticized. Russia's mediation role in the Iran crisis should be explicitly welcomed. A self-critical dialogue on all sides is necessary. Churches and religious communities have a special role here that they have long exercised and should strengthen again.


ALL MILITARY OPTIONS MUST BE EXCLUDED

Resolution of the European Parliament escalates Iran Conflict

By Tobias Pflueger

[This press release published 2/15/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de/. Tobias Pflueger is a member of the European Parliament.]


The European delegate of the left fraction, Tobias Pflueger, member of the Foreign Affairs committee and coordinator of the subcommittee on security and defense made this statement on the Iran resolution passed in the European Parliament on 2/15/2006:

The joint resolution of liberals, conservatives, rightwing nationalists and social democrats on the nuclear dispute with Iran adopted today with a large majority is very problematic. Points 4 and 7 of the resolution support the escalating position of the governments of the EU3 (Germany/France/Great Britain). The resolution welcomes the summons of Iran before the UN Security Council. This is the first step for the countdown to a military attack against Iran. The Iraq war is obviously the blueprint for the conflict with Iran. Unlike the Iraq war, Germany and France are considerably aggravating the situation this time. Jacques Chirac's statement that he is ready to use nuclear weapons against so-called terror states is a scandal. The historical comparison of Hitler with the president of Iran (BILD-newspaper) and the instrumentalization of anti-fascism by Angela Merkel are completely unacceptable.

The Iranian nuclear program should be rejected. The nuclear weapons in the EU (France and Great Britain) and the US should be disarmed in accordance with the Nuclear Weapons Ban treaty. The so-called "civilian" use of atomic energy is also problematic.

All military options must be excluded. The unspeakable remarks of the Iran president against Israel and human rights violations in Iran may not be instrumentalized for war policy.


FOR A COMPREHENSIVE MIDDLE EAST PEACE CONFERENCE -
AGAINST A FURTHER ESCALATION IN THE CONFLICT WITH IRAN

Four-point paper of the Bundestag party DIE LINKE on the Conflict around the Iranian Nuclear program

By Bundestag party DIE LINKE

[This four-point paper published February 17, 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de.]


A latent danger of war starts from the conflict around the Iranian nuclear program. Iran is threatened with military force by the governments of the United States and the European Union in a way that recalls the time before the attack on Iraq. The Iranian president foments the conflict with threats against Israel.

The Bundestag party DIE LINKE regards a comprehensive peace conference for the Middle East by the UN Security Council as urgently necessary. The DIE LINKE party calls on the German government to champion the immediate convening of such a conference vis--vis the permanent members of the UN Security Council and within the European Union.

No state of the region can refuse participating in the Middle East peace conference convened by the UN Security Council. Mutual state acknowledgment goes along with this participation. On the basis of a comprehensive renunciation of force and a non-aggression guarantee toward all states, the conference should grapple with the unsolved problems of the Middle East through involvement of the permanent members of the Security Council. The following four points are crucial:

1. Israel's right of existence may not be put in question by the states of the region. Defining and acknowledging a lasting agreement on Israel's legal borders should be a goal of the conference.
2. Defining and acknowledging the legal borders of a viable Palestinian state must also occur with recognition of Israel's borders. Assuring Palestine's permanent state sovereignty and economic survival should be a goal of the conference.
3. The massive troop presence in Iraq does no prevent violent confrontations but contributes to political radicalization in the whole Middle East. Agreeing on a timetable for withdrawing foreign troop[s from Iraq should be a responsibility of the conference.
4. One main motive for possessing or striving to possess nuclear weapons is cancelled with a mutual acknowledgment of all states, a renunciation on force and a non-aggression guarantee for all states of the region. Fixing a binding timetable on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Near East and Middle East on the basis of renunciation of force and security guarantees of the permanent members of the UN Security Council should be a goal of the conference.

For the following reasons, the Bundestag party DIE LINKE is convinced that a Middle East peace conference represents a realistic and lasting way out of the explosive situation and can avert the latent danger of war:

1) A military intervention against Iran that is not excluded by the US government or the German government as an option would have unimaginable consequences for the region. US air attacks on Iran would probably have grave consequences for Germany's security.
2) Israel must feel threatened by the possibility of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran. The unacceptable threats of the Iranian president and his remarks denying the holocaust have intensified this feeling. Any use of force against Iran would escalate the situation and endanger Israel's security even more. Israel's nuclear weapon arsenal intended to deter conventionally armed neighboring states cannot permanently guarantee its security as the nuclear weapons of other states of the region cannot guarantee their security.
3) Nevertheless access to nuclear weapons is seen by more and more states as the only effective protection from a military attack of the US and other states. The interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq contributed greatly to the attractiveness of nuclear weapons. The threats of a military intervention of the US that is also conventionally overpowering give Iran a strong incentive to at least develop the capacity for building nuclear bombs.
4) The US troop presence in Iraq contributes considerably to the feeling of humiliation in countries of the region and to making Iraq into the center of the violent conflicts in the region. From neighboring states like Iran, the US military presence in Iraq can be viewed as a starting point for military interventions. This is aggravated by the massive military presence of the US, Germany and other states in Afghanistan - a military action that also has not led to a permanent stabilization of the land and region.
5) The danger of more wars in the region of the Near and Middle East will grow even more through conflicts around the increasingly scarce resources oil, natural gas and drinking water. Given the failures in converting to renewable forms of energy, the struggles around oil will aggravate the inner conflicts of the region.
6) The violent protests after the publication of the Mohammed-caricatures are a sign of how sensitively the population in several Islamic countries reacts to happenings in Europe and the US. They show how quickly the political situation in the countries of the Near and Middle East could fall out of control in the case of an attack on Iran.
7) The United Nations Security Council runs the risk of losing its role preserving the peace assigned by the UN Charter. In the conflict around the Iranian nuclear program, the demand for involvement of the UN Security Council has become a synonym for preparing a military attack. There is no inner logic of the sanction catalogue of Chapter VII of the UN Charter that allows coercive military measures whose dimensions and effects can hardly be controlled.
8) Experience with the conference for security and cooperation in Europe demonstrates that renunciation on force and mutual state recognition combined with discussions on disarmament, trade, human rights and culture could open up perspectives for peaceful, nonviolent and democratic change.


AN ETHICAL PERSPECTIVE

From the Clash of Cultures to Human Competition in a Global-Ethical Competition of People

By Klaus Roggendorf

[This address is translated from the German on the World Wide Web.]


Dear ladies and gentlemen, seekers of meaning, friends of true life in the false, hard-core philosophers and everyone searching for a more fruitful ethic!

The clash of cultures belongs to historical humanity. What happened and what will happen if we do not come to a global ethical consensus, to an ecumene of all religions? Homo sapiens must accomplish the existentially necessary change of values to authenticate humanity in solidarity.

Let us wage the "clash of cultures" for a fruitful life as a battle for the best arguments. Without a true and global ethic, everything is only growing suffering and misery.

The homemade distresses of nature are growing more visible and menacing among people and animals because/when simple, clear, ethically unequivocal, everyday (global) standards of binding human conduct are lacking to us.

We have the innate common desire that human life may be optimally fruitful. Therefore the philosophical question is raised, how should we humans live.

Existentially we need an ethical, life-affirming change in values. Globalization can also be understood and used as a chance here.

On account of the increasingly pressing existential questions of meaning and orientation, the theme ethics has the highest priority globally and for every individual person. A natural evolutionary ethic will be offered here to stimulate a broad discussion:

What is central is the dynamic process of true human life in theory and practice, not the establishment of a new ethical dogma. A natural and historically necessary hierarchy of rational values that can sift through a global ethical-social discourse and finely adjust to a nature-friendly ethical consensus exists in all religions, sects, cultures and social forms.

In the practical execution of a humane change in values, we will first do justice to human claims of dignity proper to the Homo sapiens. The fundamental question how we could/can solve our homemade global problems should drive our desires and lead to a praxis-oriented fundamental ethic effective for all people.

Help start such a permanent global-ethical discourse for more democracy and justice and keep it going as competition for better arguments out of humane solidarity. This need grows daily and with every new generation. Perhaps stimulation for personal life and for our common efforts at an optimally just life will be found in these mediations encouraging ethical discussion.

The clash of cultures can be minimized and prevented through human cooperation in a global ethical competition, through consensus and change in values of the people.

Everything depends fundamentally on a true ethic that can be lived fruitfully.

With friendly greetings,

Dr. Klaus Roggendorf


APPEAL TO KOFI ANNAN

Threatening War against Iran

For a Moratorium and UN Mediation Commission in the Iran Nuclear Conflict to Prevent Escalation

[This appeal to Kofi Annan, Secretary general of the UN, is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de.]


Since the middle of January 2006, the conflict between Iran and the West has intensified alarmingly. Threats and counter-threats get worse. The confrontation can soon go off course and lead to sanctions and violence with grave consequences for world peace. To prevent further escalation, a moratorium must be inserted in the conflict to give the antagonistic parties time for careful reflection on their goals and behavior patterns and develop new proposals and procedures. To achieve this, we propose the UN Secretary use his right to call a UN commission at any time.

We ask the UN Secretary General to convene an international UN mediation commission of personalities with lofty reputations as soon as possible. Under his chairmanship, the commission should work out proposals for a peaceful solution of the conflict and spread this to the world public within a half year.

The commission should be filled with experienced statesmen without official functions and personalities with great moral authority. We name several personalities who in our view could be appointed to this commission:

Martti Ahtisaari (former president of Finland)
Gro Harlem Brundtland (former Norwegian prime minister)
Bill Clinton (former president of the United States)
Michael Gorbatschow (former president of the Soviet Union)
Mohammad Khatami (former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
Nelson Mandela (former president of South Africa)
Avi Primor (former Israeli ambassador to Germany)
Mary Robinson (former president of Ireland)
Gerhard Schroeder (former chancellor of Germany)
Ayatollah Sistani (Shiite leader in Iraq)

During the consultations, the commission will ask the Iranian government to suspend the enrichment of uranium for more research studies on nuclear technology. All parties to the conflict are called to end all threats against each other.

The proposal of a moratorium and a high-ranking mediation commission should be acceptable to all sides. No additional threats should arise in this time.

Our proposal is impelled by the hope that more than a peaceful solution for the Iran nuclear conflict should be worked out through this process. Multinational consultations going beyond the present nuclear conflict should be opened up for the whole region of the Middle East and the Near East.

In this sense, the signatories ask UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to take the initiative for a moratorium and a mediation commission.

[Andreas Buro and Mohssen Massarrat formulated this text on the basis of discussions at the strategy conference of cooperation for peace in Hanover. International organizations are urged to support this appeal that will be delivered to Kofi Annan in New York in the middle of February 2006]



LETTER TO THE KOLN STADTANZEIGER

By Bernd Hahnfeld

[This letter on the problem of one-sided reporting on the nuclear conflict with Iran was published in the Kolner Stadtanzeiger ( http://www.ksta.de) and is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de. Bernd Hahnfeld is an attorney in Koln, Germany.]


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your reporting on the nuclear conflict with Iran misses important aspects of the problem. Any new nuclear weapon state is a danger for peace and international security. This is especially true for Iran whose government appears verbally very aggressive. However nuclear weapons in the hands of other states are not less dangerous.

For these reasons, the nuclear weapon states and many other states signed a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons ("Non-Proliferation Treaty" - NPT) on 7/1/ 1968. In this treaty, non-nuclear weapon states agreed to neither produce nor acquire nuclear weapons and other nuclear warheads (Art. II). This treaty is the foundation for the worldwide criticism of Iran's conduct.

The NPT guarantees that all parties to the agreement research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes (Art. IV). This guarantee for peaceful use was a fundamental precondition for the non-proliferation regime created by the NPT. Iran now appeals to this right. The international dilemma is that the nuclear weapon states and their allies demand something from Iran that they are not ready to observe themselves, namely the NPT. In 1968, the nuclear weapon states committed themselves in Art. VI of the NPT to honestly conduct negotiations on nuclear disarmament and sign a treaty on universal and complete nuclear disarmament under effective international control. The International Tribunal in the Haag unanimously emphasized this obligation in its legal opinion of 7/8/1996 adopted by the UN General Assembly.

An international law obligation enjoins honestly conducting and concluding negotiations that lead to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. Since 1968, the nuclear weapon states and their allies have refused to conduct negotiations on total nuclear disarmament. Rather they repeatedly declared that nuclear weapons are indispensable. Even the first use of these weapons prohibited by the International tribunal is not excluded.

Jurists know that the offense of one cannot justify the offense of another. One's own legal violation actually makes the demand for observing the NPT completely incredible. From the view of the non-nuclear weapon states, gaining the power position of a nuclear weapon. His power position would secure a state better than any non-aggression pact.

Reporting should not one-sidedly emphasize only the obligation of Iran but also the corresponding obligation of the nuclear weapon states. This is the backside of the coin and a necessary part of the problem solution.

Otherwise the danger exists that war may be stressed and possibilities of non-military conflict settlement disregarded.


A DECISIVE STEP ON THE WAY TO ESCALATION

By Michael Lueders

[This article published in: Frankfurt Rundschau 1/5/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.friedenskooperative.de. Michael Lueders is a Middle East expert.]


The disputing parties, Teheran and Washington, do not give anything in the conflict around Iran's nuclear program. Europe tried in vain to de-activate the situation. Who will resort to weapons first?

There is no magic formula in dealing with Teheran's nuclear ambitions. However the decision to discuss the Iranian nuclear program in the Security Council of the United Nations is a decisive step toward escalation. The next step may be the threat or imposition of sanctions against Iran joined with the warning Teheran is only "a few months" away from building nuclear bombs according to the German news service. Most likely the call for a military option will become ever louder.

The Iranian leadership with its imprudent policy has an important share in this development. The anti-Semitic invectives of president Mahmoud Ahmadinedschad and his threats against Israel have strengthened the West's impression of incalculability, hostility and malevolence - notwithstanding the fact that both Washington and Jerusalem were presumably very thankful for this folly. Ahmadinedschad could not have provided a better argument against the Islamic republic.

The fact is that for a long time there has been no evidence of the building of an Iranian nuclear bomb. That no one believes the Iranian leadership is only interested in the peaceful use of atomic energy is also a fact. This is true for Arab governments allied in this question in a rare unity with the US and Europe. Saudi Arabia, Iran's perennial rival in the struggle for supremacy in the Islamic world, fears Teheran's increase of power. The Arabs do not want to be drawn into a conflict between Israel and Iran.

The government in Washington is also jointly responsible for the escalation of the crisis. They have learned nothing from the mistakes in Iraq. Pragmatism is lacking to them. (This is also true for the hardly diplomatic words to Teheran from German chancellor Merkel in the beginning of February 2006). Teheran supported US policy after September 11, 2001 both in Afghanistan and in Iraq and presented itself as an alliance partner. With the help of Swiss negotiators, the Iranian foreign ministry sent the US government a detailed plan for normalizing political relations in the spring of 2003. Willingness to stop supporting Hamas and Hisbollah was part of this plan. Washington bluntly rejected the proposal. The influence of the anti-Iranian lobby was obviously too strong.

In October 2003, the EU (European Union) successfully moved Teheran to suspend uranium enrichment. The goal was to negotiate strategic and nuclear questions in a total package seeking normalizing relations to Washington. The government under US president George W. Bush refused and let the negotiations break down.

In 2002, Bush included the Islamic republic in the "axis of evil." Washington openly strives for a regime change in Teheran. US troops are in nearly all Iran's neighboring countries. Iran formulates its security interests on this background. To keep Teheran from building nuclear bombs, a clear security guarantee is needed - Washington's commitment not to attack Iran. The Bush government will definitely not give this guarantee. This means the points are set in the direction of "preventive military strike."

But Iran is not Iraq. The populist Ahmadinedschad knows very well how he can exploit the anti-western mood from Morocco to Indonesia. He sees himself as the Islamic Robin Hood who resolutely opposes western arrogance. In fact, the relations between the West and the Islamic world were never so strained as the violent escalation in the caricature dispute demonstrates again. Seen this way, time is in no way working against the Iranian president.

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