Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Americans Talk Directly to Iranians

On Tuesday, June 10, 2008, the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) and the Enough Fear Campaign organized an innovative “Time to Talk with Iran” event and press conference on the Terrace of the West Side of the Cannon House Office Building. With the U.S. Capitol backdrop, Representatives Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, former Congressman Bob Barr, Ron Paul, Marcy Kaptur and Sheila Jackson-Lee joined the campaign in a press conference and spoke in support of direct, bilateral and comprehensive talks without preconditions between the governments of the United States and Iran. The members of Congress were then invited to join Campaign members, foreign policy experts and American citizens in using a row of 60’s-era red “hotline” telephones to talk directly to ordinary Iranians, including a 60-year-old petroleum engineer, a software engineer, a French Literature professor and high school student. Click here to watch a video summary of the event by The Real News Network.

The “Time to Talk with Iran” event was an exercise in civilian diplomacy. It allowed Americans and Iranians to speak directly and get to know one another. There were more than 50 conversations between Americans and Iranians during the event. Most of the conversations focused on general personal questions and addressed how Iranians feel about Americans and how Americans feel about Iranians. The general sense was that despite the rhetoric between the governments of both countries, Americans and Iranians can and should be friends. Perhaps most significantly demonstrating this point, a number of people exchanged email addresses to continue the conversations. Politics mostly came up in the conversations between members of Congress and the Iranians. There was great emphasis on the need to get dialogue going and wanting better relations.

Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran organized the “Time to Talk with Iran” event because we believe that a military confrontation between the United States and Iran would have enormous human and financial costs. It would also plunge the Middle East, and global economy, into further violence and chaos. The Campaign advocates direct, sustained, and comprehensive talks without preconditions between the governments of the United States and Iran as a realistic way to resolving the long-standing conflicts between the two countries.

Concurrently on June 10, CNAPI organized a nationwide Call-in to Congress for Diplomacy with Iran for organizations with grassroots constituencies. Nearly 5,000 calls from across the country were made using the 1-800 number set up by the Campaign to Congressional representatives in the House and Senate urging direct diplomacy not war with Iran.

Click here for more information about the event.

No comments: