This could be World War 3– and we’re talking less than the parties to a friendly divorce

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 17 Comments
Sanam Anderlini
Sanam Anderlini

The highlight of the Occupy AIPAC conference was a Saturday morning panel on war with Iran, with four experts explaining to 300 people why it is such a tragically wrong idea.

A couple of panelists described an attack on Iran as possibly leading to world war–and so it is a terrible shame that CSPAN did not see fit to air these experts’ analysis to the nation. Our job!

The key points in this panel are: Sanam Anderlini and Kate Gould describing an attack as leading the way to a possible world war and how Obama has failed to engage Iran as he promised; Jamal Abdi saying that AIPAC and Israel have been playing a shell game with the U.S. “red lines,” lying about Obama’s red line; Gould with the incisive analysis that  Congress is driving foreign policy, not Obama; Anderlini describing the removal of Persian culture from American schools; Abdi saying that J Street, the liberal Zionist group, performed essential service on a Congressional letter calling for diplomacy now signed by 37 Congresspeople; and finally Abdi on how Israel and AIPAC’s greatest fear is diplomacy.

Here are some excerpts. (Statements not in quotations are paraphrased.)

Sanam Anderlini, an Iranian-American leader, of the International Civil Society Action Network:

“They say we’ve tried diplomacy. In three years there has been less than 24 hours of diplomacy. Evern a friendly divorce would require more conversation than we’ve had.”

And what are we talking about? “Something akin to a modern World War 3. Can we not talk to each other? What would happen if we spend six months of talks, 24 hours a day.”

Jamal Abdi, of the National Iranian American Council, formerly an aide to former Rep. Brian Baird:

“It’s so amazing to see you here. And your courage to do what so few people in this town are willing to do—stare down the AIPAC machine….

“Lies and saber rattling were the self fulfilling prophecies of the Iraq war. The same movie is playing now. How do we prevent the Iraq sequel.

“President Obama said I’m going to break with the Bush Administration policies, I’m going to engage them. I think his vision was good. I trust that Obama actually had a vision to end the 30 years of [non engagement] and talk to Iran.

Of the Keith Ellison-Walter Jones congressional letter, urging diplomacy:

“37 members of Congress signed this letter, we need to engage Iran. Thank them. And reprimand the other 400 members…

“There’s no military solution to this. You can’t bomb knowledge.” The thinking is that if you bomb, you get two years. “Then you have to bomb again. Ultimately that ends in occupation.”

On the two different red lines. Obama has said his red line is, if Iran moves to build a bomb. “And the Iranians have not made a decision to build a weapon. That is a fact.” OK, fine, AIPAC and Netanyahu have responded: “‘We’re going to say our red line is Iran having a capability to build a weapon.’ They’re moving the goal posts.”

“They say, ‘This isn’t a war resolution. This is endorsing what the President has said.’ That is a lie. You don’t say lie very often in Washington. This is a lie.”

Kate Gould of the Friends Committee on National Legislation:

“We’re talking about preventing World War 3.”

Gould’s sister was in Iran in December and January. The shops in the heart of Tehran have empty shelves. “Completely bare.” Even rice and beans. “Because people are stockpiling to prepare for war with Israel and the United States.” How can we lobby our way out of a US war with Iran?

Isn’t it the president who actually runs US policy toward Iran?

“Actually Iranians and other foreigners have a better sense than we do of how Congress is running the show.” The “economic warfare” of sanctions that prevent business with anyone who is doing business with Iran was led by Congress.

“Increasingly Congress is running the show and until Congress releases its stranglehold on the possibility of diplomacy with Iran….”

We’ve been effective in the past. In summer 2008 we stopped the blockade bill against Iran that was correctly characterized as an act of war, with phone calls, emails, lobby visits. Five members withdrew their co-sponsorship of the bill. “The defectors caused such a stir, the bill came off the House floor.” That shift was the top story in Iran, where the media had portrayed the legislation as a declaration of war against the country.

“Now we need to build political cover for the idea of talking to Iran.”

Support the Ellison Jones letter by calling your congressperson: 855 686 6927.

Anderlini on the Are they rational? question:

Iran is one of the most rational strategic entities out there. Its leaders are driven by survival. “When they say they don’t want a nuclear weapon, I believe them. Strategically it doesn’t make sense for them.”

Gould on the same question:

People argue that if Iran were bombed it wouldn’t do anything in response because that would call down much worse destruction. Well, that is strategic thinking. So why wouldn’t they also be strategic if they actually had a bomb– and never use it, because that would be suicide.


“The history of the Persian empires has been taken out of your children’s social studies books over the last twenty to thirty years. Systematically. I have a cousin who teaches social studies. And it’s gone.”

So as to humanize Iranians, arrange to have a viewing of The Separation in your community. Anderlini has talked to NIAC about getting this Oscar-winning film out to people.

“There are many Iranians in your community. Forgive them for not speaking out. People are scared. People are very very scared. They need to find their voice. As I am finding my voice. Please encourage them to show these films and have a conversation about this issue.”

Abdi on J Street and the political center:

J Street was critical to getting those 37 members to sign the Ellison-Jones letter. It is an “essential organization for occupying the political center and getting members of Congress who are so squeamish about taking a stand on anything. It’s very important that we have them. Every meeting that I have on the Hill, they ask, Who is supporting this? They want to know. Unfortunately, it can’t be groups who are seen as too far to the left. We need to have folks on the inside, and working at the center.”

“It’s on Netanyahu’s agenda to get Obama unelected.”


Hardline elements in Iran and Israel have the most to gain from a war with Iran. A keynote speaker at the American Enterprise Institute said, “‘the greatest danger is not Iran using the bomb, but Iran not using the bomb.’ It changes the whole regional picture in terms of Iran’s regional influence.”

We’re not happy with the Ellison Jones letter because we oppose sanctions. But sanctions language was important to get 37 members of Congress to sign on to it. “The sanctions are already having a devastating impact in Iran. [Pete] Stark and [Dennis] Kucinich didn’t sign on to the letter because of sanctions.


“The fear in Israel isn’t an attack from Iran. The concern of the Israelis is that their maneuverability would be limited. They wouldn’t be able to act as they do with this nuclear umbrella.

“The Israeli fear is diplomacy with Iran and détente with Iran. That’s Netanyahu’s greatest fear.”

About Philip Weiss

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17 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    March 5, 2012, 9:19 am

    Mark my words… it won’t be hard for the rest of Americans to figure who was to blame for World War 3, when it happens and we lose another generation to war. Israel and her agents are going to pay a price — too bad it won’t be as high as the price Americans will pay over this, though. We’re screwed.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    March 5, 2012, 10:34 am

    RE: “A couple of panelists described an attack on Iran as possibly leading to world war” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Please help Tikkun/NSP run the following ad in major American newspapers.

    No Mr. Netanyahu, No President Obama:
    No War on Iran and No First Strike

    Some who have signed this ad believe that the best path for homeland security is through rejecting the old-fashioned “domination strategy” to get your way…

    …Click HERE to see a draft of how this ad would look in the newspaper.

    If you would like to help Tikkun/NSP run this ad, please make a donation.

    P.S. Nuttyyahoo JPEG –,r:0,s:0&tx=53&ty=60

  3. DICKERSON3870
    March 5, 2012, 11:06 am

    RE: “This could be World War 3– and we’re talking less than the parties to a friendly divorce” ~ Weiss

    SEE: Would God want Israel to attack Iran? ~ By (Rabbi) Michael Knopf, Haaretz, 3/04/12

    (excerpt). . . With the American war in Iraq still fresh in our collective memory, Judaism’s standards for just wars become especially poignant. A decade ago, Bush Administration officials began calling for military action against Saddam Hussein. They contended that Hussein had secret weapons stockpiles, was producing weapons of mass destruction, and was supplying weapons to terrorists. Given Hussein’s belligerent attitude toward the West, his defiance of the international community, and his track record of brutality at home and abroad, these pieces of evidence were, at the time, offered to prove a clear and imminent threat to the U.S.
    So the U.S. invaded, igniting a nearly ten-year war that reportedly resulted in more than 150,000 deaths. Only amid the rubble and corpses did we discover that most, if not all, of the arguments in favor of the war were false. We let fears, not facts, govern our decisions. Our goal was to save innocent lives; we took many, instead.
    The Talmud teaches that, in 586 BCE, Judea was destroyed not because its defenses were too weak, but because the Jews were indifferent about shedding blood (Shabbat 33a). Let us pray that history does not repeat itself.


  4. Dan Crowther
    March 5, 2012, 11:16 am

    “This could be World War 3– and we’re talking less than the parties to a friendly divorce……because of “my” community”

    — Phil Weiss ( if hes being honest)

    “One day, perhaps, even in brainwashed America the questions may begin: another war? Is it right to put more American soldiers in harm’s way for an interest that is more Israeli than it is American? And perhaps we should also make demands from the small protege?

    For now, Obama may be unable to prohibit Israel from a military adventure in Iran without offering serious quid pro quo. After all, we are talking about the prime minister of Israel. But one day the rope could snap and the whole thing could blow up in the face of power-drunk Israel: Israel doesn’t know when to stop, and it could pay dearly as a result. ”

    –Gideon Levy

    • marc b.
      March 5, 2012, 11:50 am

      right, dan. it is time that israel grow up. we negotiated with the soviets, they can negotiate with iran.

      • teta mother me
        March 5, 2012, 1:02 pm

        Israel IS growing up — or at least its nuclear fleet is growing:

        Letters: Ironies of Israel’s new submarine

        Saturday 03 March 2012

        “Your report concerning the possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel (29 February) might have alluded also to Israel’s apparent attempt to obtain “second strike” facility.

        Currently undergoing sea trials is a new Dolphin class submarine built for Israel by a subsidiary company of ThyssenKrupp in Kiel – one of three to be delivered. This submarine, 68 metres in length and understood to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, is the largest submarine built in Germany since the Second World War. It is claimed in the German press that these new submarines have the advantage both of being more difficult to detect, and to have less need to break surface, as they run on fuel cells. The apparent intention is to mount a permanent patrol off the coast of Iran.

        Perhaps of equal interest is that one third of the purchase price of a third submarine to be built will be paid for by Germany, up to a maximum of €135m as part-reparation – this was revealed in a Wikileaks report from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. The reparation element seems to relate to Israeli claims against the GDR before reunification.

        The disparity between reporting of Iran’s nuclear policy and the almost total silence concerning Israel’s nuclear weapons and its refusal to either join the Non-Proliferation Treaty or even to allow international inspection must be a matter of incredulity in Middle Eastern states, if not in Europe.

        And just to heap irony upon irony, according to the Jerusalem Post in 2010, the Iranian state holds a 4.5 per cent stake in ThyssenKrupp.

        Wade Mansell

        Professor of International Law

        University of Kent Canterbury”

    • Charon
      March 5, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Even if the Vegas odds that attacking Iran would lead to WWIII were low, the fact is that it is a possibility. I believe it is a probability. Why even take that risk?

      Like if the odds were even 1%, why would anybody risk such a thing? “The odds of a global world war – which could turn nuclear and destroy most life on the planet – are very low… less than 1%”

      And such a possibility exists yet these nutjob warmongers are willing to take that chance.

  5. Pixel
    March 5, 2012, 12:40 pm

    Thanks for this, Phil!

  6. Fredblogs
    March 5, 2012, 1:03 pm

    The main danger isn’t the current government of Iran launching a nuclear missile, it’s that they will increase their sponsorship of terrorism, knowing that no one can attack them for it because of their nukes. There’s also the chance that someone less sane than even Ahmadinejad will take over. Or in the subsequent arms race, once multiple anti-Israel countries in the Middle East have the bomb, someone might give it to terrorists for a smuggle and detonate in Tel Aviv job, counting on anonymity to save them from Israel’s vengance.

    • Charon
      March 5, 2012, 4:25 pm

      There is no danger. The perceived danger, were Iran to possess nuclear weapons, is that Israel would no longer have bully status in the ME. The nukes would be a deterrent.

      The facts all point to a much different reality though. Iran’s nuclear sites may have already potentially been sabotaged by Israel (according to the filtered info of wikileaks, if anybody believes that). Not only that, but Iran has actually complied with inspections despite Zionist (dis)info to the contrary. Even Israel’s own assessment of the situation is proof enough that Iran is incapable of producing nukes anytime soon. But if they want them, some say that Russia will provide them with ’em.

      So what exactly is the truth here and why are all eyes on Iran? And you mention smuggling and detonating nukes in Tel Aviv. What about Israel doing them same in NYC or Chicago? There was that whole shady Minot thing from a few years back involving missing nukes and all the people involved subsequently dead. Conspiracy theory? No, conspiracy fact. What is really going on and why is Iran the target? Serious question. JPost comments are full of irrational “Persia must be destroyed before the prophecy bla bla bla” BS. Is that the real reason? I’ve even read Ultra Orthodox comments regarding the Iraq war being revenge for Babylonian Captivity. Seriously!

      This is what I believe is the truth: The truth is that insane people with obvious signs of mental illness have far too much control on this planet. That’s the truth.

      • Fredblogs
        March 5, 2012, 4:55 pm

        ROFL. Israel nuke Chicago? Are you kidding? What about England doing the same. It’s more plausible, we’ve actually been at war with England before.

        What’s really going on is that the U.S. doesn’t want a terrorist sponsor like Iran to have nuclear weapons. It’s that simple. Iran is the target for two reasons:
        1) They want nukes (or at least that is the common perception)
        2) They don’t have any yet

        As for why the common perception is that they want nukes, it might be them keeping out inspectors, or them improving their uranium centrifuge facilities beyond what they need to make fuel rods. Or maybe we are just suspicious of their claims to want peaceful nuclear energy given that they are sitting on one of the world’s largest oil reserves. Oh, and they refuse to give up on nuclear technology in the face of crippling sanctions that harm them far more than any peaceful nuclear technology could help them.

      • Chaos4700
        March 7, 2012, 2:33 am

        What about the US wanting a terrorist sponsor like Israel having nukes?

    • Chaos4700
      March 7, 2012, 2:32 am

      So… we should go to war for nukes they don’t have because they’re secretly supporting al-Qaeda? Yeah, that doesn’t sound like Iraq at all.

  7. piotr
    March 7, 2012, 12:36 am

    WW3 potential comes from the fact that China and Russia do not want USA dictating other countries what to do. That includes also India and Turkey, with somewhat lesser consequences.

    If USA attacks Iran with either a protracted action or threat to repeat it, Russia and Iran could make a temporary defense treaty, with nuclear response. We have a lot of assets on Diego Garcia, and island with no civilian population (Brits removed them). So Russians could make a credible threat of nuclear strike on Diego Garcia in case of subsequent attacks. And station their legendary anti-ship missiles on the shore of Persian Gulf. Just think what USA would do if China, driven by some grievances, attacked Mexico.

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