Col. Lawrence Wilkerson visit to Oklahoma focuses on peaceful solutions to international issues

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson with AANW members Hal Spake and Nathaniel Batchelder.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson with AANW members Hal Spake and Nathaniel Batchelder.

On Feb. 5 and 6, Col Wilkerson visited Central Oklahoma, speaking at several events.

On Feb. 5, he was the guest of the University of Central Oklahoma, and his speech at the Nigh University Center, attended by over 100 students and local residents, was entitled “We Need Not be Enemies: Iran the the U.S. in the 21st Century.”

The talk was followed by a lively question and answer period. The talk was filmed by UCO and is provided here courtesy on the school’s Youtube channel.

On Wednesday, Feb. 6 Col. Wilkerson joined members of Americans Against the Next War for a morning press conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol, emceed by AANW’s Nathaniel Batchelder of the Oklahoma City Peace House. His remarks about U. S. foreign policy in the Middle East and around the world serve as a call for a new perspective by Americans, whose spirits and coffers are drained by more than 10 years of ceaseless war. A different future is possible, if we heed that call.

The following photo montage and audio recording of the press conference was produced by AANW member Rena Guay, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research.

At noon on Wednesday, he made visit to the OU campus for a lunchtime discussion with students, and locals yet more of his experience on the world scene and hard-earned wisdom of politics and diplomacy. That event was sponsored by the College of International Studies and the OU Iranian Studied Program.

Col. Wilkerson jokingly remarked during his visit that Oklahomans sure know how to get their money’s worth out of a speaker. But throughout the visit to our area, the Colonel was forthcoming — seeming to be more than happy to tell his story and share his opinions. Those of us who attended any of his events learned a good deal, and were heartened that his strong voice calling for peace and mutual cooperation, instead of war and threats, was so widely available to us.

Col. Wilkerson is part of The Iran Project, and invites those interested to use the reports and other resources on the project’s web site.

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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: http://www.AmericansAgainstTheNextWar.org.

Local news coverage of AANW

A story about AANW has been published in the City Sentinel, an Oklahoma City news weekly. Written by freelance journalist Darla Shelden, the article reports on our founding and very clearly details our concerns about the war talk taking place in some circles in this country (generally the same circles that ginned up the war in Iraq).

“No War on Iran” rally in Oklahoma City shows widespread concern about potential military action

On February 2, members of AANW and others gathered in Oklahoma City for a streetside protest against the notion of using military action in response to the claims that Iran has a nuclear weapons program that is an imminent danger to the US or to any of Iran’s neighbors in the Middle East.

In this video, participants at the demonstration express their concerns and motivations for coming out to the event. The near-constant honking is in response to large signs calling on drivers passing by to “Honk for Peace” and “No War in Iran.”

Organizers said that the honking was the most that any such event had ever elicited in their many “Honk for Peace” events in the city.

The video was shot by Rev. Bruce Prescott of Oklahoma Mainstream Baptists.

For still photos of the event, see this Flickr album, where you can download or link to individual photos.

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No War with Iran Action, a set on Flickr.

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