Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress

08 Jan 2020


Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress

January 7, 2019

To Members of 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 and covert forms of intervention 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.

Respectfully yours,

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


Medea Benjamin

Founder, Code Pink



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


Phyllis Bennis

Institute for Policy Studies and Jewish Voice for Peace

Board Member


Professor Hilal Elver

Research Fellow, University of California-Santa Barbara


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


Walid Afifi

Professor of Communication

University of California Santa Barbara


Kevin B. Anderson

University of California, Santa Barbara


Mohammad Azadpur

Professor of Philosophy

San Francisco State University


Dr. Hatem Bazian

UC Berkeley and Zaytuna College


Vincent Stanley

Author, Poet


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


Masoud Chamasemani

Actor and TV Producer


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


Pauline M. Coffman

Oak Park, IL


Eve Darian-Smith


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


Julie Diamond

Center for Worker Education, CCNY

New York


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


Maxine Fookson

Board member of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Western Executive Committee of American Friends Service Committee


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


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


Jeremy R. Hammond

Independent journalist

Editor of Foreign Policy Journal

Author of Obstacle to Peace:

The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


David Hillstrom



Frederik S. Heffermehl

Oslo Lawyer/author

Nobel Peace Prize Watch


Ivan Huber

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Fairleigh Dickinson University


Professor George Hunsinger

Princeton Theological Seminary


Suad Joseph

University of California, Davis


Marcela Jurado


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


Richard Lew

Independent Contractor


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


Kathleen Moore

Professor of Religious Studies

UC Santa Barbara


Patricia Morton

University of California, Riverside


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


Angela Price

Fresno Center for Nonviolence


Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal

Law and Urban Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Priscilla Read



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


Carole Saltz

Director (retired)

Teachers College Press


Vida Samiian

Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles

Professor of Linguistics and Dean Emerita

California State University, Fresno


Eugene Schulman

Independent dissident


Leyli Shayegan

Retired Assistant Director

Teachers College Press


Carole Snee,

Retired Director of ESL

California State University, Fresno


Mark Lewis Taylor

Maxwell M. Professor of Theology and Culture

Princeton Theological Seminary



Baki Tezcan

University of California, Davis


Devra Weber

Emerita Professor of History

University of California, Riverside


Thomas G. Weiss

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

Presidential Professor of Political Science

The CUNY Graduate Center


Mark Winterrowd


John Whitbeck

International Law Expert




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