Open Letter to the Members of the Congress

Wreckage from the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport, that led to the death of Iran top general Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: File)

To Members of the United States Congress:

The unlawful and provocative assassination of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, has already given rise to an escalating spiral of lethal events. The greatest risks are to stumble escalating into a devastating war in the Middle East with grave consequences for the peoples of Iran and Iraq and likely across the region. Such a war would have disastrous effects for this country, for the region and the world.

It is certain to do further harm to the reputation of the United States, which already is perceived in much of the world as an irresponsible and criminal political actor in the region, using military force in ways that have made already difficult situations catastrophic by taking various dangerous military, economic and quasi-diplomatic initiatives misleadingly presented as “maximum pressure.”

It is imperative for the well-being of our country, and indeed the world, that the Congress of the United States fulfill its most solemn constitutional responsibility, and impose effective restraints on the war-making actions of this impeached president. This is a moment when partisan politics should be put aside, not only for the sake of national interests but for the benefit of humanity – -we should realize that these unilateral actions by the United States have put the entire world at risk. It is also a moment when Republicans, as well as Democrats, must stand up for a sane foreign policy, and for diplomacy and peace instead of aggression and war, and fulfill their duties as Members of Congress.

The Iranian people have endured decades of economic warfare waged by the US and its allies. Since the revolution of 1979 in Iran and the end of a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Iran’s autocratic leader, the Shah, the US has imposed numerous sanctions on Iran under various guises, threatened it with war and inflicted pain and suffering on its people.

What is desperately needed with respect to Iran is not any further recourse to coercive diplomacy based on escalating threats, crippling sanctions, and tit-for-tat military actions. What is urgently needed is an immediate shift to restorative diplomacy based on mutual respect for international and domestic law, with the objective of peace, stability, and cooperation.

From all that we now know, General Soleimani had come to Iraq without stealth on a commercial plane. He came to Iraq on a diplomatic peacemaking mission at the invitation of the Baghdad Government, and with a meeting scheduled on the following day with the Prime Minister that was part of an ongoing effort to seek a lessening of tensions between Iran and  Saudi Arabia. In reaction to major violations of its sovereignty, the Iraqi Parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops from their country. In place of what seemed a promising regional initiative the assassination of General Soleimani has resulted in an intensification of conflict, further massive suffering, and the likelihood of dangerous escalation.

We call on Congress to act with urgency to stem this slide toward war and regional chaos.

We urge you to consider imposing ironclad restraints on the authority of the President to make any further use of international force without a clear and definite authorization by the U.S. Congress, which itself should respect the relevant prohibitions of international law and the provisions and procedures of the UN Charter.

Richard Falk

Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law

Princeton University

Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies


Noam Chomsky

Laureate Professor of Linguistics, Agnese Nelms Haury Chair


University of Arizona

Daniel Ellsberg

Former Official of State & Defense Department

Whistleblower, Pentagon Papers


Judith Butler

Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature

University of California, Berkeley


Medea Benjamin

Founder, Code Pink



Phyllis Bennis

Institute for Policy Studies and Jewish Voice for Peace


Professor Hilal Elver

Research Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara


Vida Samiian

Visiting Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles

Professor of Linguistics and Dean Emerita

California State University, Fresno


Antonio C. S. Rosa, M.A.

Editor, TRANSCEND Media Service


Ira Helfand, M.D.

Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

1985 Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility


Christine Ahn

Executive Director

Women Cross DMZ


Rick Wayman

President & CEO

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation


Frank Bognar, D.P.A.

Vice Chair, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation


Douglas Roche, O.C.

Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament


David Krieger, President Emeritus

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation


Peter Kuznitz, Professor of History

Director, Institute of Nuclear Studies

American University


Biljana Vankovska, Professor

University of Skopje, Macedonia


Bogdan Bogdanov, Professor

University of Skopje, Macedonia


Ahmad Abbas, Mathematician

Research Director at CNRS, France


John Scales Avery, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus

University of Copenhagen

Chairman, Danish National Group

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs


Rev. Kil Sang Yoon

Executive Advisor

Korean American National Coordinating Council, Inc.


Jeremy R. Hammond

Independent journalist

Editor of Foreign Policy Journal

Author of Obstacle to Peace:

The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Maxine Fookson, RN

Board member of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Western Executive Committee of American Friends Service Committee


Frederik S. Heffermehl

Oslo Lawyer/author

Nobel Peace Prize Watch


Vincent Stanley

Author, Poet

David Hillstrom, Author


Rabbi Linda Holtzman

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


Thomas G. Weiss

Distinguished Fellow, Global Governance. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Presidential Professor of Political Science

The CUNY Graduate Center


Ervand Abrahamian

Professor Emeritus

City University of New York


Professor Rabab Abdulhadi

Director and Senior Scholar

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies

San Francisco State University


Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl

Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law

UCLA School of Law


Olga Abella

Emeritus Professor of English

Eastern Illinois University


Suzanne Adely

National Lawyers Guild

International Association of Democratic Lawyers


Stephan Andersson

Independent Bertrand Russell scholar

Lund, Sweden


Walid Afifi

Professor of Communication

University of California Santa Barbara


Kevin B. Anderson

University of California, Santa Barbara


Richard Appelbaum, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus and

Former MacArthur Chair in Sociology and Global & International Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara


Mohammad Azadpur

Professor of Philosophy

San Francisco State University


Bahar Bastani, M.D.

Professor of Medicine

School of Medicine, Saint Louis University


Dr. Hatem Bazian

UC Berkeley and Zaytuna College


Eileen Boris

Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor

Department of Feminist Studies

Professor of History, Black Studies and Global Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara


Dr. Jaap C. Bos

Professor of Psychology

Utrecht University


Marian and Leslie Bravery

Palestinian Human Rights Campaign

Aotearoa, New Zealand


Carole H. Browner

Distinguished Research Professor

Departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies

Center for Culture and Health

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

University of California, Los Angeles


Edmund Burke III

Professor Emeritus of History

University of California, Santa Cruz


Karen Brodkin

Professor Emerita of Anthropology

University of California, Los Angeles


Sara Cvetkovska

ERCOMER, Utrecht University


Valentina Capurri

Instructor, Ryerson University

Toronto, Canada


Swati Chattopadhyay

University of California, Santa Barbara


Maivan Clech Lam

Professor Emerita

City University of New York Graduate Center


Carla Coco

University of California, Santa Barbara


Dr. Ali Dabiri

Founder and President of Dr. Modjtahedi Foundation

Retired Professor of Sharif University of Technology of Iran


Diana G. Darab, Ph.D.

Health Research for Action

University of California, Berkeley


Natalie Z. Davis

Professor Emeritus

Princeton University


James Deutsch MD, PhD, FRCPC

Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto


Judith Deutsch, President

Science for Peace


Julie Diamond

Center for Worker Education, CCNY

New York


Gordon Doctorow, Ed.D.

Toronto, Canada


Dr. Vincent Duindam, Ph.D.

Psychologist, Utrecht University


Omnia El Shakry

Professor of History

University of California, Davis


Sasan Fayazmanesh

Professor Emeritus of Economics

California State University, Fresno


Nina Farnia

Past President

National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter


Gary Fields, Professor of Communication

University of California, San Diego


Shepard Forman, Founding Director

Center for International Cooperation

New York University


Manzar Foroohar, Professor Emerita

History and Latin American Studies

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


Margaret Ferguson

Distinguished Professor of English, Emerita

University of California, Davis


Aranye Fradenburg Joy

Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature

University of California, Santa Barbara


Nancy Gallagher

Professor Emerita of History

University of California, Santa Barbara


Jolien Geerlings

Utrecht University

The Netherlands


Jila Ghomeshi, Professor and Department Head

Department of Linguistics

University of Manitoba


Professor Penny Green

Head of Department of Law

Professor of Law and Globalisation

Director, International State Crime Initiative

Queen Mary University of London


Magda Gilewicz

Professor of English

California State University, Fresno


Avery F. Gordon

Professor of Sociology

University of California, Santa Barbara


Visiting Professor, School of Law

Birkbeck University of London


William Hastings

Assoc Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Fordham University


Maryam Shayegan Hastings

Emerita Professor of Mathematics

Fordham University


Ivan Huber

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Fairleigh Dickinson University


Professor George Hunsinger

Princeton Theological Seminary


Suad Joseph

University of California, Davis


Prya Kapoor

Portland State University


David Kinsella

Portland State University


David Klein

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge


Dennis Kortheuer

Department of History, Emeritus

California State University, Long Beach


Richard K. Larson

Professor of Linguistics

Stony Brook University


Mark Levine

University of California, Irvine


David Lloyd

Distinguished Professor of English

University of California, Riverside


Dr. Brooke Lober

Scholar-in-Residence, Gender and Women’s Studies

University of California, Berkeley


Paul M Lubeck

Johns Hopkins University, SAIS


Afshin Matin-Asgari

Professor of Middle East History

California State University, Los Angeles


Blanca Misse

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

San Francisco State University


Akbar Montaser

Professor Emeritus

The George Washington University


Kathleen Moore

Professor of Religious Studies

UC Santa Barbara


Patricia Morton

University of California, Riverside


Radmila Nakarada

Professor of Peace Studies

University of Belgrade


Jamal R. Nassar

Professor of Political Science and Dean Emeritus

California State University, San Bernardino


Srkja Pavlovic

Department of History and Classics

University of Alberta


Ismail Poonawala

Professor Emeritus of Arabic and Islamic Studies

University of California, Los Angeles


David N. Rahni

Professor of Chemistry


Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal

Law and Urban Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Craig Reinarman

Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Legal Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz


Rush Rehm

Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies and Classics

Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater

Stanford University


Stephen Roddy

Professor of Chinese Studies

San Francisco State University


Lisa Rofel

Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

Co-Director, Center for Emerging Worlds

University of California Santa Cruz

Co-Director, California Scholars for Academic Freedom


Cesar “che” Rodriguez, Ph.D

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies

San Francisco State University


Muhammad Sahimi

Professor of Chemical Engineering

University of Southern California


Professor William Spence, QMUL

Carole Saltz

Director (retired)

Teachers College Press


Leyli Shayegan

Retired Assistant Director

Teachers College Press


Carole Snee,

Retired Director of ESL

California State University, Fresno


Baki Tezcan

University of California, Davis


Mark Lewis Taylor

Maxwell M. Professor of Theology and Culture

Princeton Theological Seminary


Devra Weber

Emerita Professor of History


University of California, Riverside

Ryan J. Fisher

University of California, Santa Barbara


Janet Kobren

Human Rights Activist


Susan Shawl

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area chapter


David L. Mandel, Sacramento

Human rights attorney

Chapter leader, Jewish Voice for Peace

Elected member, California Democratic Party Central Committee


Henry Norr

Activist and retired Journalist


Mario Galvan

Board member, Sacramento Area Peace Action


Pathma Venasithamby

Jewish Voice for Peace


Carol Sanders

Retired Attorney

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace


Elizabeth Block

Member of Independent Jewish Voice


Molly Hogan

Jewish Voice for Peace


Martha Roth

Independent Jewish Voices


Pam Rogers

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace


Linval R. DePass

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace


Angela Price

Fresno Center for Nonviolence


Masoud Chamasemani

Actor and TV Producer


Pauline M. Coffman

Oak Park, IL


Eve Darian-Smith

Layla Darwish

Palestine Freedom Project


Shahla Dashtaki

Fulton, MO


Natalie Z. Davis


Marcela Jurado


Priscilla Read



Gertrude Reagan

Palo Alto Friends Meeting


Bob Aldridge

World War II Veteran


Newland F. Smith, 3rd

Episcopal Peace Fellowship


Ned Rosch

Human Rights Activist who lived and worked in Iran


Parizad Torgoli


Rev. Don Wagner

Friends of Sabeel-North America


Parisa Afshar

American-Iranian who opposes any kind of war with Iran


Richard Lew

Independent Contractor


Reza Sheybani, M.D.


Eugene Schulman

Independent dissident


Susan Stout

Activist, Vancouver


Mark Winterrowd


John Whitbeck

International Law Expert


Cindy Shamban

Member of Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area


Nancy Murray

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine


Marge Sussman

Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area

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