Trump to destroy the Garden of Eden? The U.S. to wage war on Persia, modern day Iran? 

Sure, why not? Everything else seems up for grabs, including, oh, like the world’s environment – “no global warming,” remember?

Trump’s latest tweet – “War will mean the official end of Iran” (Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, 19 May 19) adds the possibility of a new Middle East War to the mounting existential threats!

Mesopotamia (the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) was the apocryphal site of the Garden of Eden. That “Fertile Crescent” was, in actuality, the site of the beginnings of modern civilization. Tensions there have risen in recent weeks; Trump has ordered warships (the USS Abraham Lincoln) and bombers to the Middle East. He ordered “non-essential” staff out of diplomatic posts in nearby Iraq. He dangled the threat of “120,000 U.S. troops.”   

But, which mood, which tweet to believe? Asked if the U.S. was “on a path to war with Iran,” Trump answered “I hope not;” the real War Hawks, Bolton and Miller, whom he appointed, continue to plan for “their” little war every day. The carrier will arrive soon, headed to the mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which a third of all oil trade at sea passes. That is the U.S. “interest.” 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia, said his kingdom “does not want war in the region.” Yemeni rebels had claimed a drone attack on the Saudi Oil pipeline. Iran denies arming or training the rebels. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has called for an Arab meeting of Heads of State meet on May 30, in Mecca to discuss the latest developments.

Almost all of the current tensions have been rooted in Trump’s lone decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers. He added wide-reaching sanctions. Iran had been in compliance with that agreement but said it “would resume enriching uranium at higher levels if a new nuclear pact is not reached by July 7th (AP). There we stand. How to evaluate? For one thing, check with our allies. 

Europe has “doubled down” on its agreement with Iran and calls U.S. policy “blunt, ignorant and confused” (Alan Crawford, Ilya Arkhipov, and Gregory Viscusi, Bloomberg Press, 19 May 2019). Due to strained relations, both with allies and with Putin, “a new deal is not likely. Russia is counting on Trump to “rein in hawks in both the U.S. and Israel.” Berlin, and Paris are cautious, puzzled at the contradictions in Washington between Trump (“Tweet One”) and Trump (“Tweet Two”) and between Trump and his own administration officials.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif undertook his own Asian tour: New Delhi, Tokyo, and Beijing. There he won a pledge from China on Friday to support Iran’s efforts to safeguard its own interests. Even in Israel, hard liner Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided to cool things down, ordering cabinet ministers to avoid making public statements of possibility of a U.S.- Iran war. (Booomberg)

Yet, many feel we are “drifting toward war with Iran, without any clear objective—or without a clear face-saving way out for Iran (Wall Street Journal). Could we step back and re-consider? What readers, what men and women of reason and religion are fine with this? Are taxpayers? Are any other good citizens? Are they fine with another war to pay for—in money as well as blood? Do we blithefully allow “leaders” to promote destruction of an ancient civilization—our roots? 

Iran comes from a series of imperial Persian dynasties (5,000 BCE to 600 BCE), replete with notable leaders – Cyrus, Darius, and Alexander the Great. Cyrus upheld the rights of the downtrodden and tolerated existing religions. Darius assisted Jews in building the Temple at Jerusalem. Alexander commanded his officers and 10,000 troops to intermarry with Persian women, blending the cultures even more. 

The ancient capital of Persepolis is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Followers of Zoroastrian principles followed the three principles of good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Multiculturalism was the goal, plus a common language and common currency (Peter Davidson, Atlasof Empires). Persian words pepper our speech: bazaar, shawl, turquoise, orange, lemon, melon, even spinach and asparagus! (Even my name is derived from the Persian—for “moon.”) We are, in a way, one people. Modern Iran, despite the change in religion (now, 90 percent Shi’a Muslim), is built on its own history of “eclectic cultural elasticity” (Milani, A Lost Wisdom). Persian literature has inspired Goethe and even Ralph Waldo Emerson (Zara Houshand, Literature from the “Axis of Evil,” 2006). 

Other positive aspects abound. Generally, Iranian women are freer than their counter-parts in neighboring Sunni/Muslim (Arab) countries. One of five PhDs are female, and women have a large role in science, medicine, the arts and literature. Modern Iranians speak Farsi, a derivative of Arabic and Persian, and, with some differences, can and do communicate with their Arab neighbors. 

The lamentable Shi’a-Sunni split is another, very long and divisive story. Just speak to any of our fellow Valleyites, in either of the two McAllen Mosques, or other Americans Muslims; most will probably share their regrets and frustration. But I suspect none want a decimating invasion, not even the suggested “surgical strikes,” touted by Bolton, Miller, and Company. 

What reasonable person would go along with such a scheme—another war? So, what is to be done? On May 21st, 2019, former CIA Director, John Brennan – serious and aware of the dangers that exist – is to brief Democrats in the House of Representatives on Iran (Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast, 19 May 19). On the same day, Trump officials are to brief lawmakers in a “closed-door” session. Democrats will also attend that briefing. 

Let us hope cooler heads prevail. Let us hope citizens and leaders alike appreciate the deep, inter-connected history of human beings since the dawn of civilization in the “Garden of Eden,” Let us hope they comprehend the threats to East and West—indeed, to the world!