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Seattle Talk: Iran, Nuclear Impasse and Prospect for War

maya neyestani

Leaders to war, followers to peace (Mana Neyestani)

This coming Thursday, February 21st at 7PM, I will be speaking with Reza Firouzbakht of National Iranian American Council and Dick Blakney, a Northwest peace activist.  Our topic will be Iran: Nuclear Impasse and Prospect for War at Skinner Auditorium of St. Mark’s Cathedral on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Relations between Iran and the west are among the most volatile in the world.  The chance that miscalculation could lead to escalation and regional war is very real.

Hawks advocate regime change.  Israel’s prime minister rattles the sabers of war.

Recent developments have kept Iran and the nuclear crisis at the top of the news headlines.  Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary is being opposed by GOP senators in part because of his past opposition to Iran sanctions.  After Vice President Biden floated the idea of bilateral U.S.-Iran talks, the prospect was unfortunately shot down by the Ayatollah Khamenei himself.

The U.S. continues to advocate punishing sanctions as one of the few arrows in its quiver to bring Iran to heel.  While Iran, which does suffer from sanctions, resists and appears not to give an inch in return.  The P5+1 nuclear talks have yielded very little fruit so far.

Iran’s influence in the region is in a particularly precarious state with the imminent demise of one of its key allies, Bashar al-Assad in Syria.  Given the key role that country plays as a transshipment point for Iranian arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Israel’s increasingly aggressive attacks against such weapons convoys, including air strikes against Syrian targets–it appears this is a particularly dangerous struggle.

 Next month, Pres. Obama will travel to Israel for his first visit as president.  Israeli media have said virtually the only thing on his agenda involves telling Israel and its prime minister not to attack Iran.  Bibi Netanyahu, known for his deep animosity toward Obama, is a most recalcitrant partner.  He tried to go to war in 2010 but was stopped by his security and military chiefs, who argued vehemently against it.

Now that Bibi has won a new term and his Likud party has rid itself of some of its most powerful moderate figures, is this the time Bibi will choose to go on the attack?  If he does, can the U.S. stay out of it?  Will Barack Obama’s plan to wind down Middle Eastern wars fall prey to the manipulations of an Israeli leader who needs military conflict against his neighbors to create social cohesion at home?

I urge you to join us for a discussion on this fateful topic that will affect not just the Middle East, but our own nation as well.  We gather to affirm that negotiations are the only path to resolve the conflict with Iran.  Military confrontation and acts of terror like assassinations and cyber-terror will fail.


Reza Firouzbakht: President, WA State chapter of the National Iranian-American Council. He is an international business consultant and Senior Manager of Accenture’s Strategy Consulting practice.  Reza was born in Iran and emigrated in 1983. He has a BA and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Richard Silverstein: Author of the Tikun Olam blog, which focuses on Israel-Iran relations, Israel’s democracy and national security issues.

Dick Blakney: former president of the United Nations Association Greater Seattle chapter.  He is a retired international health specialist who founded hospitals and developed health care delivery systems in Borneo, Hong Kong, Guyana and Liberia.  For the past six years he has focused on resolving the conflict with Iran through peaceful negotiation. He compiles Iran Update. 

Donations accepted

Sponsor: St. Mark’s Mideast Focus Ministry

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/522341811120947/

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Eden February 19, 2013, 12:06 PM

    I would come if I lived in the area. Good Luck!! I probably do not share many of the opinions the panel will have but I enjoy much more a dialogue with those I don’t agree with than those who are boring and think like me.

  • dickerson3870 February 19, 2013, 3:53 PM

    RE: “Will Barack Obama’s plan to wind down Middle Eastern wars fall prey to the manipulations of an Israeli leader who needs military conflict against his neighbors to create social cohesion at home? ~ R.S.

    FOR EXAMPLE, SEE: “Israel’s Trauma Psychology and the Attack on Gaza”, By Avigail Abarbanel, Sunday 4th January 2009

    [EXCERPT] . . . Israel has been itching for a ‘good war’ for a while now. The botched attack on Lebanon in 2006 was a psychological disappointment that did not fulfil its purpose, and only led to a deepening chasm between the political and military arms in Israel. An Israeli friend told me in disgust the other day, that there is an atmosphere of ‘national orgasm’ in Israel about the prospect of attacking Iran. While people are being bombed in Gaza, all Israelis can talk about is the coming attack on Iran. But there is a link between the two.
    Israel’s social problems have grown exponentially over the past 15 years. It’s a very different Israel now than the one I grew up in. There is more violent and organised crime than ever before, and more domestic violence and abuse of children than ever. There are more drugs and drug use, and they have drunk-driving, something I have never encountered while I was still living there. This is reflected in official reports as well as in the daily newspapers.
    My brother who lives in Israel described to me how soldiers who spend their military service in the Occupied Palestinian territories implementing Israel’s brutal occupation, come home on weekends only to get involved in drunken armed brawls and murders. This was unheard of in my time.
    Israelis have never been particularly kind to each other. It’s one of the reasons I left actually. In my late twenties I started to grow weary of the unkind, harsh and unforgiving atmosphere around me. It was a tough place to live in not because of our ‘enemies’ but because of how people treated one another. You would believe that we were all enemies rather than people who have some kind of a shared heritage. The only thing that could unite people and temporarily brought out more kindness and a sense of cooperation was a feeling of being under collective threat, and in particular a ‘good wholesome war’ . . .

    SOURCE – link to avigailabarbanel.me.uk
    AVIGAIL ABARBANEL’S SITE – link to avigailabarbanel.me.uk

  • Eden February 19, 2013, 5:03 PM

    I understand being critical of Israel on many points but what Avigail Abarbanel describes is so far fetched that it makes no sense. There is no place in the word that is as crazy as she describes.
    Soldiers ” come home on weekends only to get involved in drunken armed brawls and murders.”
    The murder rate in Israel is 2.1 per 100k.
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    That is 159 murders for roughly 7 million people.

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