The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
On Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris debated many issues that are on the minds of Arizonans: COVID-19, racial unrest, and Supreme Court nominations, to name a few.
However, they also dedicated significant time to an urgent matter that has slid under the radar of many voters: the threat of a U.S. war with Iran.
As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes a “maximum pressure campaign” with sanctions against Iran, tensions continue to rise in the Middle East. This decades-old conflict between the U.S. and Iran reached a tipping point in January 2020. After a series of escalations, the U.S. assassinated Iranian military official Qassem Soleimani. In response, Iran attacked a U.S. military base in Iraq.
Eight months later, our government still has no diplomatic plan to address these escalations. Without diplomacy, a military conflict between the U.S. and Iran is a real and present threat.
As Arizona voters, we have the responsibility to hold our legislators accountable for their stance on issues of war and peace. Therefore, before casting ballots this November, Arizonans must clearly state what we demand from our elected officials: No war with Iran.
There are many arguments for why Arizonans should oppose war. For starters, wars are expensive. As a result of COVID-19, Arizona’s unemployment rate is hovering near double digits. Families are struggling as they lose income and employer provided health care, and businesses are closing. Instead of escalating costly conflicts across the globe, we should focus our energies and resources on supporting Arizona residents during these difficult times.
In addition, deploying troops during a pandemic creates unnecessary health risks for Arizona’s 17,302 active duty military and 14,968 reserve forces. Currently, Iran is battling a COVID-19 surge of over 2,000 new cases per day. We should not ask troops to face the double risk of war and pandemic by deploying them to a global virus hotspot.
Not only would a military strike endanger our troops, but it would jeopardize the lives of countless Iranian civilians. We have watched too many military strikes in the Middle East devolve into endless wars that claim the lives of thousands of civilians. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action proved that, even if flawed, a deal blocking Iran’s creation of nuclear weapons is possible. Knowing this, we must again pursue diplomacy with Iran.
Despite the economic, public health, and moral arguments against war, some still might conclude that attacking Iran is a necessary next step. They may even claim that war could positively impact the U.S. by stimulating job growth.
While it’s true that wars can bring about short-term economic gains, the long-term costs outweigh any benefits. Researchers at Brown University state that “U.S. federal spending on the current wars would have led to at least 1.4 million more jobs had the money been invested instead in education, health care, or green energy.” By opposing war with Iran, we can both invest in initiatives that benefit our communities and save countless lives.
With the election only weeks away, Arizonans deserve to know where our current and prospective politicians stand on this issue. Arizona legislators, we as constituents urge you to make a public statement declaring your opposition to war with Iran. By doing so, you are communicating that you prioritize Arizonans’ health, safety and security over the pressure to wage an unnecessary war.
It’s time to advocate for diplomacy and international cooperation. It’s time to step up and declare for all to hear: No war with Iran.
Heather Mace is a member of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Tucson Advocacy Team and a Public Voices fellow with the OpEd Project.