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  • 1 March 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Congress, Diplomacy

Keith Ellison: We do not need a third war, engage Iran diplomatically

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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) went on Morning Joe this morning to convey an important message: engage Iran.

“We just got out of one war, we’re trying to get out of another one, we do not need a third…diplomacy is the right option,” he said.  Ellison explained, “No one says diplomacy is easy, but going to war would be catastrophic,” and negotiations are the best way to prevent war and prevent nuclear Iran.

The Congressman discussed his bipartisan effort with Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) to call for the President to reinvigorate diplomacy with Iran:

“If you listen to Martin Dempsey, who’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the fact is that an attack on Iran would be destabilizing and the attack would not achieve the objectives of…stopping the nuclear program.  So we need to avert that possibility from the very beginning.  That’s why Walter Jones and I have come together and organized many of our colleagues on a letter to the President to really be strong on diplomacy. And to go back to that effort which the President very wisely started which is direct, bilateral engagement on Iran.”

The Ellison-Jones letter has been endorsed by groups including NIAC, FCNLJ Street, Americans for Peace NowJust Foreign Policy, Peace ActionCREDO, and ELCA.

Ellison said the President must be firm with our allies on the need for diplomacy to prevent war, explaining that many Israeli generals and military experts also believe “an attack on Iran would destabilizing for them and the wrong way to go”:

“What the President has to tell the Israeli leadership is: ‘Look, if you’re going to sign us up for a protracted military conflict that you can start but cannot finish, we’ve got to be in on it from the beginning.  And we say diplomacy is what we need to do now…The United States, the strongest military on Earth, should never be in a position where it is not in control of its own destiny.  The fact is, we cannot let even an ally, an important ally like Israel, drag us into war that we think diplomacy can serve better in.”

You can ask your Member of Congress to sign the Ellison-Jones letter by emailing them here or call them at 1-855-68 NO WAR.

Sign the Petition


7,350 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.



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