by Jim Lobe
In a particularly eloquent and straightforward defense of the Iranian nuclear deal, 37 prominent Iranian Americans have appealed to Donald Trump to maintain U.S. compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran. The letter comes on the heels of an appeal to Trump by prominent US scientists urging him to support the deal and a recent poll demonstrating that two-thirds of the U.S. public don’t want the Trump administration to withdraw from the deal.
Washington’s withdrawal from the deal, according to the signers of the open letter, would not only enhance the chances or war with Tehran. It would also strengthen hardliners in Iran who “can easily shut down democracy and human rights activism when they can unite the nation behind the threat of foreign aggression.” It would also “prove that the hardliners were correct to claim that the United States could never be trusted to up hold its end of any deal.”
Signers include, among others, historians Ervand Abrahamian and Roy Mottahadeh; actress Shohreh Aghdashloo; best-selling authors Reza Aslan and Firoozeh Dumas; Iran (and LobeLog contributor) political analyst Farideh Farhi; comedian Maz Jobrani; artists Shirin Neshat and Rahmanian; as well as a number of well-known musicians, singers, and prominent filmmakers, academics, and business leaders.
Letter to President-elect Trump
Dear President-elect Trump,
As Iranian-American artists, scientists, business leaders, human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, we all drew a sigh of relief when the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal was reached. To us, it meant ensuring that a disastrous war between the United States and Iran was avoided.
As prominent scientists and arms control experts in the United States and around the world have observed, this was a good deal because it dramatically reduced the chances of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
While the easing of sanctions that resulted from this deal has yet to have a tangible impact on the lives of ordinary people in Iran, it has without a doubt given millions hope that the country’s economy has backed away from the edge of the cliff.
This is precisely why we are worried about any effort to undo this agreement. As you have pointed out, the war in Iraq greatly destabilized the region and needlessly cost both the United States and Iraq dearly in blood and treasure. Instead of the flourishing of democracy that the advocates of that war promised, major parts of the Middle East continue to deal with sectarian violence and brutal suppression of dissent.
We respectfully ask that you not allow the same forces of war and conflict to worsen these already tragic circumstances by raising tensions with Iran.
Despite the fact that millions of Iranians disagree with many of the decisions made by their government, they welcomed the Iran nuclear deal. Furthermore, a majority of them believed that ending the cycle of confrontation with the United States would foster the political space in which they could raise their voices and demand change.
Only an indigenous movement from within Iran can lead to a more open society and a more accountable government. After all, hardliners and authoritarian forces can easily shut down democracy and human rights activism when they can unite the nation behind the threat of foreign aggression.
As we witnessed over the course of the last decade, sanctions and the threat of war only serve to empower Iran’s hardliners while harming ordinary citizens who represent the backbone of any possible positive change.
Abandoning the JCPOA would not only prove that the hardliners in Iran were correct to claim that the United States could never be trusted to uphold its end of any deal, it would also once again put the United States and Iran on the path of war. That would be a disaster for both nations.
More than any other time, the United States and Iran should pursue engagement and dialogue. This will be effective in furthering the cause of democracy in Iran while ensuring that you abide by your promise of reduced foreign entanglements and enhanced national security.
For these reasons, we respectfully request that you choose diplomacy over sanctions and war in your dealings with Iran and uphold the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal.
- Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of History, Cuny University on New York
- Shohreh Aghdashloo, Actress
- Mohammad Aghebati, Artist
- Azam Ali, Composer
- Yahya Alkhansa, Musician
- Reza Aslan, Professor, University of California, Riverside
- Narges Bajoghli, PhD, Watson Institute, Brown University
- Narges Baniasadi, Vice President, Roche
- Abdolali Bazargan, Architect, Author
- Asef Bayat, Professor of Sociology, Illinois University
- Dara Daraee, Musician
- Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling Author
- Kamran Elahian, Chairman, Global Catalyst Partners
- Zohre Elahian, Managing Director, Global Catalyst Foundation
- Farideh Farhi, Affiliate Graduate Faculty, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
- Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Filmmaker
- Maz Jobrani, Comedian
- Tara Kamangar, Musician
- Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Professor of Persian, University of Maryland
- Ahmad Kiarostami, Co-founder & CEO, Koantum
- Mohsen Moazami, Managing Director, Columbus Nova Technology (Venture Capital)
- Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, Professor of History, Harvard University
- Ebrahim Nabavi, Writer & Satirist, Winner of Prince Claus Award 2005
- Ava Nazar, Musician
- Shirin Neshat, Artist
- Hamed Nikpay, Vocalist, Producer, & Songwriter
- Neda Nobari, Nobari Foundation
- Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
- Hazhir Rahmandad, Associate Professor, MIT
- Hamid Rahmanian, Artist
- Somaya Ramezani, Architect, Artist
- Khodadad Rezakhani, Historian, Princeton University
- Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, Filmmaker and Professor, Columbia College Chicago
- Melody Safavi, Singer-Songwriter
- Mohammadsharif Tabebordbar, Biomedical Scientist, Harvard University
- Ramin Loga Torkian, Composer
- Caveh Zahedi, Filmmaker
A Farsi version of the letter can be found here.