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tehran peace museum

Tehran Peace Museum

It is clear by listening to the latest Republican debates that every major candidate for president, except for Ron Paul, would like to bomb Iran first and ask questions later. All the war hawks, none military veterans themselves, are quick on the trigger to send troops into combat that have two things in common:

  • none of the actual combatants would be family members or relatives, and perhaps more importantly
  • they have vested interest in stocks or companies that would greatly benefit from any armed conflict.

During the 2nd International Conference on Agent Orange/Dioxin in Hanoi, I met an Iranian delegation headed by Dr. Shahriar Khateri. From a political and religious point of view, we had many differences. That withstanding, we are good friends and an example for Republican leaders to follow. Once superfluous trappings are set aside, it was obvious we had a great deal in common. Indeed, I firmly believe most Iranians are like the good doctor. For serious presidential candidates to advocate some "zero tolerance," "no consultation," "war now" policy -- without investigation of all the facts -- is beyond insane and ignores the goodness of the vast majority of people living in Iran; in essence it truly is not the "Christian" thing to do!

Most Americans are ignorant to our involvement in Iran. Iranian oil was discovered during the time period of the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention, which divided the country between the U.K. and Russia. During W.W. II, British and American oil interests had Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlaui installed as the nation's ruler. In 1951 when Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq attempted to nationalize the oil companies under the "Iranian oil for Iranians" policy, he was removed from power and arrested by a CIA- and MI6-backed coup. Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi, who was viewed as a serious threat to American and English oil interests, was executed.

To prevent this type of threat to American oil companies, the CIA assisted the Iranian secret police, SAVAK, in arresting and, in some cases, torturing and executing political prisoners. This was the basis of the Shah's overthrow in 1979 and sadly most Americans still don't have a clue as to why this happened. We still buy the politically correct line that the Iranian people are "opposed to democracy" or "anti-Christian..."


Immediately after the Shah's ouster, the Reagan administration funded and supplied Iraq, under Saddam, with chemical weapons that he not only utilized against the Iranians but the Kurdish minority living in Northern Iraq. As a direct result of Reagan's foreign policy, suffering still exists today in Iran. This is how I came to know Dr. Shahriar Khateri. The doctor is an advocate for peace and assists in running the Tehran Peace Museum dedicated to this purpose.

Dr. Khateri has brought to my attention some amazing editorials and articles that I have not seen in this country but they deserve immediate examination and review.

Both the following references were published in Iran on 20 July 2008 (FARS News Agency; Etemad Newspaper, the largest reform publication in Iran): quote then vice president and current Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, "Today, Iran is friends with the American and Israeli people. No nation in the world is our enemy, this is an honour." The vice president went on to state "America is a great nation...Iran wants no war with any country, and today Iran is friend of the United States and even Israel...our achievements belong to the whole world and should be used for expanding love and peace..."

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These published statements created some internal conflict with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the vice president was removed from office but President Ahmadinejad retained him as Chief of Staff. This should tell the West something?


The Bush administration lied us into a war with Iraq and now GOP hopefuls are leading us down that same path with Iran. We know what the Republicans claim is Iran's nuclear policy; but, Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in a meeting with head and officials of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and nuclear scientists in Tehran said:

“The Iranian nation has never been after nuclear weapons and it will never go after such weapons. The Iranian nation will prove to the world that nuclear weapons do not bring about power. The people can shatter the kind of power that is based on nuclear weapons by relying on their talents and their human and natural capacities.”

“There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."

Regarding the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s Message to the nuclear disarmament conference of April 2010:

"We consider the use of nuclear weapons and other forms of WMD as haraam-Forbidden- and believe that it is everyone's duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster...We believe that besides nuclear weapons, other types of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons also pose a serious threat to humanity. The Iranian nation which is itself a victim of chemical weapons feels more than any other nation the danger that is caused by the production and stockpiling of such weapons and is prepared to make use of all its facilities to counter such threats."

Are the Iranians lying? With the GOP policy of 'bomb first, ask questions later," we would never know; however, if we could silence the drums of war long enough to actually talk to them, maybe a solution could easily be found? Yes, we have our differences but we also may have more in common that we realize. I would suggest the Republicans get to know Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei a little better before other young men, women, and innocent civilians die for our business interests in a conflict that would have more severe consequences than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

jim rhodes

James Rhodes