Anti-war and other All Souls Commentary

This episode of All Souls Forum begins with a brief review of the recent escalations of tensions between the US and Iran followed by a general discussion of other topics from All Souls Forum on 2020-01-05.

Last Friday, January 3, a US drone strike killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and four others near the airport of Baghdad, Iraq.  The next day, at least two rallies were held in Kansas City to protest this extra-judicial execution, one at noon and another at 3 PM. KKFI reporter Spencer Graves briefly visited the second one just south of the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain. He counted roughly 90 people when he was there. Roughly 60 were holding protest signs, drumming and chanting next to 47th street. The rest were congregating around four tables:

If you are concerned about this or any other political issue, you can share your concerns with your elected representatives in Washington by going on the internet to and selecting your state and to and entering your zip code. Doing so will nearly always give you the web sites of your two senators and representative in the US House. Most of them have an option to “contact” or “email” their office.

For me, the hard part is deciding what I want to say. Many of our representatives ask you to contact them using a form on their web site. That, of course, means that you may not get a file copy of what you sent unless you create one separately in word processing software. I do that, then copy and paste it into their form.

Before doing that, you might research what each representative may have said about the issues that concern you. Google Advanced search can help with this. To get that, I first searched for “Google Advanced”. That gave me “”.

I started searching for “Soleimani” within “”. The first match was a press release with Roy Blunt, a Republican and US Senator from Missouri, saying, “Soleimani led Iran’s worldwide terrorist efforts. Hopefully his death sends a message to those in control of Iran that there is a price to be paid for being the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

A similar search within “”, “” and “” produced nothing. Searching for Iran in those web sites was more fruitful. On May 18, 2019, Hawley, another Republican and US Senator from Missouri joined with 12 other Republican members of the US Senate in saying that, “The Iran nuclear deal was one of the single worst foreign policy disasters in recent memory. … I support the Administration’s maximum pressure campaign to hold Iran accountable for its sponsorship of terrorism, human rights abuses and leading role in the proliferation of chemical weapons.

On Oct 16, 2017, Jerry Moran, a Republican US Senator from Kansas said that, “Iran is still a place that exports terror around the globe, and I wish that agreement would have been much more encompassing than just dealing with one issue.” A similar search produced nothing regarding the positions of Pat Roberts, a Republican US Senator from Kansas.

That was so much fun, I extended the search to and Last Friday, Jan. 3rd, Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat representing much of the Missouri portion of the Greater Kansas City area, said, “I fear this decision is a grave miscalculation by the President. Such a monumental escalation in tensions with Iran, without consulting congressional leadership and our allies abroad, puts our servicemembers in danger and has the potential for disastrous ramifications … . This moment is a test of whether or not we learned our lesson in Iraq, and I pray that we seek all opportunities to de-escalate this volatile situation.” On the same day, Sharice Davids, a Democrat who represents much of the Kansas portion of Greater Kansas City, said, “Qassem Soleimani committed atrocious crimes against American troops and innocent people. But his killing will only serve to further destabilize an already dangerous region and put more American and civilian lives at risk.

This sounds pretty partisan: Republicans insisting this extra-judicial execution was justified, Democrats concerned about backlash.

With this background, I’ve asked my three representatives in Washington for the evidence that the US can actually accomplish something constructive by escalating this conflict in this way.

Last October 7 was the eighteenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, because the Afghanis asked for evidence of Osama bin Laden’s culpability in the suicide mass murders of September 11, 2001, before agreeing to extradite him.  Has that made anyone safer and more prosperous?  It seems doubtful.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia, NOT Iran, “arguably remains the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism“, according to the Wikipedia article on “State-sponsored terrorism“.  Iran appears to have supported some international terrorism, but nowhere near the level of support provided by Saudi Arabia or the United States, according to that same Wikipedia article.  And Saudi Arabia is NOT on President Trump’s Muslim travel ban list. For documentation on this, see the Wikiversity article on “Winning the War on Terror”.

And by the way, the primary threat from Iran having nuclear weapons comes from what the US might do if some terrorist group delivers a nuclear bomb in a sailboat, for example, to some US target of convenience. Leading climatologists have said that a “minor” nuclear war in which India and Pakistan each use a third of their nuclear arsenals would likely loft so much soot into the stratosphere that it would produce a nuclear autumn lasting several years during which a quarter of humanity would starve to death. That’s 2 percent of the US nuclear arsenal.  If only 1, 2 or 3 nuclear weapons were used, it would likely have a negligible impact on climate. In other words, the primary threat is not from North Korea or Iran having a few nuclear weapons but rather the huge nuclear arsenals of the US and other major nuclear-weapon states.

So far, the evidence is consistent with the observation that when people are killed and property is destroyed, the apparent perpetrator often makes enemies. When our people our killed, that proves to us how evil our opposition is. When we kill them, that’s unfortunate but necessary.

* It will be very difficult to achieve peace without reducing this asymmetry in human judgement.

If you have evidence of Iranian support for terrorism beyond their neighbors in the Middle East, you can add that to the Wikipedia article on “Iran and state-sponsored terrorism” and the Wikiversity article on “Winning the War on Terror”. If you have evidence of errors in the claims here about the threat from the US nuclear arsenal, add that to the Wikiversity article on, “Time to nuclear Armageddon”.

Almost anyone can change almost anything on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects like Wikiversity. They ask you to write from a neutral point of view citing credible sources. If you don’t do that, you can expect someone else to delete what you wrote or modify it to make it more neutral and credible.

Conservatives claim that the media are biased against them. However, the evidence I find supports the opposite: Media organizations everywhere cannot afford to offend their major funders, especially major multinationals including but not limited to major oil companies that have long had better relations with the Saudi royal family than with the governments of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and other countries where US troops are currently engaged. That’s even true, sadly, of PBS, sometimes facetiously called the “Petroleum Broadcast System”. If you want to honest information about any substantive issue, you need to look beyond the mainstream media.

But don’t believe me. Check your facts. How do you know what you think you know? And use Wikipedia or Wikiversity to challenge the claims made above about Iran and the US nuclear arsenal.


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