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.

Posted By Julia Murray

    One Response to “Conference of Mayors’ International Affairs Committee Passes No War in Iran Resolution”

  1. Patrick Disney says:

    This is a really valuable tool in the movement to oppose war with Iran. The old saying is true: “All politics is local.” It’s surprisingly easy to take one evening out of your schedule and head down to City Hall for a City Council meeting and get yourself put on the agenda to speak briefly about the need for a resolution like this one. Make the effort. It could really go a long way.

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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