By Brett Wilkins

You don’t need to tell Ethics in Tech that war is hell. Some of the earliest childhood memories of our founder, Vahid Razavi — who was born in Iran — involve being under attack during the Iran-Iraq War. That 8-year war of attrition, which killed at least a million people on each side, would be better called the Iraq-Iran War, since it was Saddam Hussein, with US encouragement and support that included chemical weapons components used against Iranian troops and civilians as well as against Iraq’s own restive Kurdish population, who started it. But that’s for another article, on another site. Back to Vahid…

Vahid told me how his mother put her life on the line by volunteering in a hospital for chemical weapons victims, and how she would return from the front with “gifts” of bullets, shrapnel and other macabre souvenirs de guerre. He would bring these to school for show-and-tell; there was, at first, a certain sense of adventure for a young boy growing up during wartime. The adventure quickly faded as deadly reality sank in; Iraq targeted Iran’s cities with aerial and missile bombardment. Saddam’s Scud missiles weren’t very accurate but if you lob enough of them at a densely-populated city like Tehran it’s only a matter of time before you hit something. Or somebody, maybe somebody you love.

Vahid will never forget his childhood wartime experiences: the terror of imminent bombardment, the screams of men suffering in incomprehensible agony as their lungs burned from mustard gas and other neurotoxins while his mother did everything she could to ease their pain, the equally anguished wailing of widows of war or mothers whose sons were gone too soon, and for what?

It was only natural that Vahid developed an intense hatred of war, one which only grew within him after his family emigrated to what former president Jimmy Carter called “the most warlike nation in history.” When he was in high school, the US invaded Iraq for the first time, and Vahid marched in the streets to denounce the war. He did so when the US invaded again during the so-called War on Terror, a never-ending global conflagration that has claimed as many as 2 million men, women and children in seven countries subjected to US bombs and bullets.

The War on Terror, we were told, is all about keeping America safe from another 9/11. This assertion is belied by the fact that a powerful cabal of neoconservatives wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext for a wider war against countries that had nothing to do with those horrific attacks on America but which did possess coveted resources or were of strategic importance in service of US hegemony. One of the countries that kept coming up is Iran, which influential Project for the New American Century (PNAC) identified as ripe for regime change back in 2000. Successive US administrations have threatened Iran. The menacing has run the gamut from quasi-comical, like the time John McCain sang “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” on the 2008 presidential campaign trail, to the deadly serious, like when the US trained and backed terrorists who once killed Americans but are now targeting the Iranian regime. Having already overthrown the most popular and democratic government Iranians have ever known, and having for decades backed a brutal monarch and taught its security forces torture and democracy suppression, the US has been at times seemingly obsessed with waging war on Iran.

Ethics in Tech strongly opposes any US war against Iran, or any nation, for that matter. We also stand strongly against the use of unmanned aerial drones in war, especially bombing of civilians or illegal assassinations of the sort we saw last week in Baghdad. NONVIOLENCE is the first principle listed in our mission statement, for nothing could be more important in the world than peace. We strongly urge US and Iranian leaders to exercise restraint, and to work diligently towards deescalation and an eventual rapprochement. Iranians are some of the most pro-American people on this planet, despite nearly a century of US meddling, threats and oppression. It would be a tragedy of immense proportions were these two great nations to go to war, a war which would have no winners — except the military-industrial complex and its investors — and far too many losers.


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