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June 23, 2008

Conference of Mayors’ International Affairs Committee Passes No War in Iran Resolution

The “Opposing Military Intervention in Iran” Resolution passed through the International Affairs Committee, 7-5, at the US Conference of Mayors last Friday. This event is currently being held in Miami, Florida and the resolution needed to be voted out of committee in order to reach the Conference floor. The full floor vote was scheduled for this morning at 10am E.S.T. but the results have yet to be released.

The committee’s passage of the resolution was an important development in the case against war with Iran. It is another indication that the public do not want military action to be taken against Iran. The members of the International Affairs Committee who argued against this resolution did not base their logic on national interest. Instead their objections rested more on the desire not to divide the Conference. It has been reported that they did not want to create debate and disruption among the mayors gathered in Miami and cause a repeat of the “Iraq: Bring the Troops Home” resolution which led to a two hour debate during last year’s meeting.

However, I cannot see how these arguments hold any validity. Should there always be consensus? Is it better to ignore an issue that has the potentiality of war rather than addressing it head on? I would argue no on both counts. It should not matter if the Conference splits because this is representative of the US, which as a democracy embraces a multiplicity of worldviews. Moreover, if by debating the resolution, a two hour discussion ensues then I would see this as a positive occurrence. There can be nothing better than for all outlooks, ideas and alternatives to war to be put out into the open. Even if talking is slow-moving and tedious, it will allow all options to be considered. Thus one hopes that final decision will be well-informed and the best course of action will be selected. Therefore the mayors should not shy away from addressing the issue of war with Iran; instead such robust debate should be encouraged. The same goes for the rest of our politicians as well as us, the public.

Even more important, it is possible that, by not talking about the possibility of war with Iran, it could appear that America is implicitly agreeing with the warmongering cries for military action to be taken against Iran. By staying quiet, nobody will ever know how you feel. By allowing the Conference of Mayors to discuss the Iran resolution, the International Affairs Committee has given mayors from all over the country the opportunity to voice their opinions and the opinions of their constituents. Twenty City Councils have already passed resolutions promoting diplomacy rather than war with Iran. This gives these cities’ mayors the chance to lend further weight to their actions and highlight the fact that this is a nation-wide feeling, not simply one that exists in isolated pockets of the country.

By debating this resolution in the general conference I hope that the momentum for diplomacy rather than war will continue to grow. Already we have seen grassroots campaigns, such as the Coalition for a New American Policy in Iran, promoting peaceful relations and I have heard esteemed academics advise against conflict between the US and Iran. If the Conference of Mayors addresses this resolution it will move the effort for diplomacy past civil society and into the sphere of elected politics. The next level to take the debate would be onto the floors of Congress.

There is still time to let your mayor know your views – it is never too late. Click here to contact him/her now.

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