As a physician and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, I am deeply troubled by the intemperate rhetoric about Iran coming from Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others in the Trump administration have made alarming statements about the prospects for war with Iran.
Given that the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, such statements could provoke Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program and thereby further increase the risk of war.
After realizing the unanticipated, unintended costs of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American people overwhelmingly oppose another disastrous and preventable war in the Middle East. Such a war would jeopardize national security and endanger the lives of Americans and others. President Donald Trump has given mixed signals, alternately threatening to destroy Iran and saying he has no desire to engage in a war against it.
As always, Trump’s negotiation style, intentions and actions are unpredictable. It’s impossible to dismiss the risk that he will draw us into an endless, unwinnable war.
That should not be allowed to happen. The Constitution grants members of Congress the power to declare war. It is their responsibility to prevent war with Iran now before it starts. A war with Iran — given its size, unique strategic location and well-known military preparedness — could be potentially even more deadly than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Middle East is a complicated political tinderbox. Because the United States is a nuclear-armed country, conventional war with Iran includes the potential for an unthinkable nuclear war, causing many millions of deaths, nuclear winter and mass starvation. The Iran nuclear deal, which Iran has continued to comply with even after the United States withdrew, is critical to preventing such a catastrophe.
To ensure compliance with the deal, the United States must negotiate re-entry into the agreement. Likewise, it must maintain diplomatic communications to more readily monitor Iran’s adherence to nonproliferation goals. In this way, both nations can experience the positive outcomes of the agreement.
It is time for Congress and this administration to recommit to the deal between the United States, our allies and Iran to prevent unnecessary destruction, suffering and death. Congress must step in, do its duty and prevent a war with Iran. Our national security and that of the world depends on it.
Maureen McCue, coordinator of the Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, recently retired from her position as founder and teacher in the Global Health Studies Program at the University of Iowa. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by the Tribune News Service.