photo of billboard "No War on Iran"

AANW announces billboard campaign

NEWS RELEASE: July 10, 2012

Three Oklahoma City billboards call for ‘No War on Iran’

Oklahoma City – Oklahoma activists from the group Americans Against the Next War (AANW) are working to prevent military action or war against Iran. They have contracted with a local outdoor advertising company for three billboards, now on display in the metro area, carrying their message: “Tell Congress: No War on Iran.”

A news conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 10, will be held in the State Capitol 4th floor press room, #432B, to announce the billboards, the Oklahoma City metro area locations, and to present the coalition of churches, organizations and individuals cosponsoring, endorsing and funding the project.

AANW is a group of concerned citizens that has met weekly since February in central Oklahoma to take actions expressing concern about increasingly inflammatory rhetoric that could spark military action and war against Iran. AANW’s projects have been endorsed or cosponsored by a growing number of Oklahoma churches, organizations and individuals lending their voices to calls for restraint and patience to let the negotiations process go forward.

“We are especially concerned that a constant state of war now seems normal to a whole generation of Americans,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City. “We hope that our advocacy for non-military solutions to international disagreements will resonate with other war-weary Americans who will contact Congress with that message, too.”

Speakers at the news conference are to include Dr. Katherine Scheirman, Col. USAF (ret); Rev. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists; Bob Lemon, Oklahoma City philanthropist and human rights activist; and John Scripsick, Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq. Batchelder will emcee the news conference.

“The same people who were cheerleading for the Iraq War are now fear-mongering about the threat from Iran, said Dr. Scheirman. “The reality is that Iran is a second rate military power, with an economy being crippled by poor management and international sanctions. It is isolated in the Middle East and surrounded by US military bases. I agree with Ron Paul who said that the threat to US national security is not Iran, but endless wars.”

Oklahoma City resident and donor to the billboards project Bob Lemon said, “I oppose war. I see men and women dying, children losing arms, legs, and eyes, and I oppose another war.”

Rev. Bruce Prescott said, “Frankly, I am opposed to nuclear weaponry in any nation’s arsenal. As long as the world turns a blind eye to nuclear weapons in Pakistan and Israel, it is hypocritical to be alarmed about the possibility that Iran might acquire them. We need to be working for the nuclear disarmament of all nations.”

“Our generals and Secretary of Defense confirm that Iran is not building nuclear bombs,” said Jalal Farzaneh, AANW member and resident of Norman, Oklahoma. “We ask Congress to say no to a war on Iran based on faulty intelligence, and to not put our troops in harm’s way. This war will not serve America’s interests,” he said.

Some of the churches and organizations endorsing or supporting the project include Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC; Church of the Open Arms, UCC; Joy Mennonite Church; First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City; Tulsa Peace Fellowship; Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House; National Lawyers Guild, Oklahoma Chapter; Peace Education Institute; Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research; and others.

Individuals supporting or endorsing the billboard project include: Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson; Bill Bryant, President United Nations Association of OKC; Martha Skeeters, PhD, University of Oklahoma Associate Professor; Kenneth Meador, Iraq war veteran; and many others.

AANW believes that the prominent public voices calling for war are ill advised, and that Congress and the American public should carefully examine the motivations and arguments behind calls for military action. “War has profound consequences to our economy and families not felt by media pundits and hawks in Congress whose bellicose words can make war sound like a reasonable option,” Batchelder said.

The “No War On Iran” billboard locations in the metro area are: on I-35, north of SE 15, east side of the road facing north; on I-35, 1/2 mile north of Britton road, west side of road facing south; and on I-40, west of Yukon (Clarence Page airport), north side of road, facing west.

“Our billboards demonstrate that voices for peace and negotiations are now crucial to the process of resolving issues with Iran,” said Batchelder. “A war with Iran would raise world oil prices, reverse our fragile economic recovery, and plunge the U.S. into further debt.”

For more information and a larger list of endorsements, visit the website:

Tell Congress: No War On Iran – billboard advocacy campaign

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Op-Ed: Negotiations with Iran, Not War 1

This op-ed by Mary Francis, member of AANW, was published on CNN’s iReport and in the 5-25-2012 edition of The Oklahoma Observer (subscription required).

Support Negotiations with Iran, not War

Hawks in the U.S. and Israel believe military action against Iran is justified because Iran enriches uranium for its nuclear power plants and medical uses. This enrichment activity is entirely legal under the Treaty for the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Nevertheless, hawks characterize this as a “nuclear weapons capability” and insist that it must cease, or be stopped by force. The U.S. and the world cannot afford another war.

The U.S. House and Senate may already have passed a resolution (H. Res. 568, S. Res. 380) expressing the sense of Congress that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capability, then “containment” options are insufficient. Containment includes diplomacy, sanctions, deterrence, and inspections short of war. Since some hawks in Israel and Washington regard Iran’s enrichment facilities as already “nuclear weapons capable” this resolution ratchets up the drift toward war.

Iran has no nuclear weapons and no program to develop them, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. These same experts agree that it would take Iran more than a year to produce a nuclear weapon.

Ongoing inspections of Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities by the IAEA confirm that Iran is enriching uranium only to the levels permitted by the NPT Treaty for electrical power generation and medical purposes.

Most of America’s senior military personnel, including eleven retired military generals and admirals, and two former Secretaries of Defense, have made it clear that a war against Iran is a terrible idea. In March, on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the head of Israel’s intelligence division, Meir Dagan, said that “military action against Iran would be catastrophic, possibly sparking a regional war involving the U.S. and Russia.” He also said, it is “the stupidest idea” he had ever heard.

Bellicose language about danger from Iran is reminiscent of claims about weapons of mass destruction made by politicians and hawks and uncritically reported in the media prior to the 2003 war against Iraq. We all remember Secretary of State Colin Powell’s solemn warnings to the Security Council about mobile chemical labs in Iraq, only to learn later that these claims — and so many others — were based on false testimony from unreliable sources.

The media is once again reporting claims of a danger to the world (Iran) without balanced reporting of voices against war. This is a dangerous powder keg that can lead to a war everyone would regret. Attacking Iran could cause gasoline prices to skyrocket, sacrifice more American lives, and embroil the United States in another Middle East quagmire. War would also add billions more to our national debt and plunge our economy back into recession.

There is no basis in law or common sense for the United States to launch a war against Iran. We must all tell elected officials: Not another war! America needs to come home and defend America!

By Mary Francis, Norman, OK

Mary Francis is a Peace Activist and member of Americans Against the Next  War and The Peace House in Oklahoma City.

Op-Ed: Avoiding a catastrophic war with Iran

The Norman Transcript – Editorial page

January 21, 2012

Avoiding a catastrophic war with Iran
By Nathaniel Batchelder

NORMAN — Pray cooler heads will guide America in the dialogue and decision-making over Iran’s position in the world.  Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and there is no certain evidence that such a program is under way.  Certainly, Iran has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and the interests of world peace demand that these issues be resolved without military action that could launch a catastrophic war.

Another war would destroy America’s painful recovery from the indebtedness of two wars and the 2008 economic crash.  Gasoline prices would probably go up another dollar per gallon.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ final costs will exceed $2 trillion.  Some estimates say $4 trillion, or even $6 trillion, including lifelong care for veterans physically or emotionally disabled.  Iran has four times the population of Iraq, many times the military capability, and would seek support from other nations like Russia and China, possibly sparking an unpredictable regional war.

Political hawks and shock-jocks on talk radio condemn Presidential calls for negotiations and dialogue to resolve such matters without military action as weakness. The U.S. spends as much on military preparedness as the rest of the world combined, so no one can doubt America’s capacity to wage war.  It is shocking that the theme song of one national talk show host states, “We’ll put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way.”  The world does not find this amusing or appealing.

More than 6,000 American families grieve the deaths of sons and daughters in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  More than 30,000 US troops have been physically wounded in action, and untold numbers have returned home emotionally and psychically disabled.  Suicides of war veterans each month exceed combat deaths.

Official estimates of some 100,000 deaths in Iraq and 20,000 in Afghanistan are considered low by other calculations.  The British polling group Opinion Research Business (ORB) has estimated Iraqi deaths at closer to 1 million, with some 5 million becoming displaced refugees who are homeless or have left the country.  Many believe our wars in the Middle East are breeding resentments that will last lifetimes.  War brings big profits to military contractors and oil companies that simply raise their prices.  Everyone else pays dearly, in dollars, lives, and blood.

The people of Iran are not well served by having a bellicose posturing leader in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Cowboy professions of toughness are usually hot air appealing to the pride of some, but are not helpful to the interests of peace.  The vast majority of humanity desperately hopes for negotiated resolutions to political tensions to avoid war and its deaths and destruction that ruin lives and wreck economies.

The United States must lead the world in calling for cooler rhetoric and civil dialogue by all nations in the Iran discussion.  Israel particularly must relax its rhetoric, confident that its close alliance with the United States and its own arsenal of some 600 nuclear weapons renders it a muscular regional power whose sovereignty is unquestioned.

War truly is hell, as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan remind us too well.  Let’s remember that the terrible attacks on America of 9/11, 2001, were not from a nation, but from an alliance of individuals from many nations, most prominently Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. attack on Iraq is now admittedly blamed on “faulty intelligence,” misinformation and miscalculation.  Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that the Iraq war would last six weeks and that U.S. forces would be welcomed with flowers as liberators.

All Americans opposed to another war must stand behind leaders seeking nonviolent resolutions to world situations that could blow up into wars that would wreck our economy, raise oil prices, profit only a few, and cause incalculable suffering everywhere, while we taxpayers foot the bill.

__The author is a Vietnam veteran and is the director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City – a center for public education on justice, peace, and environmental issues.