An Appeal to Conscience to Those Who Would Bomb Iran
US Army Reserves Colonel (Retired) Ann Wright

    George Bush is going to war again. We see it in the Bush
administration's rhetoric about Iran's nuclear program. We see it in the
Bush administration's commentary on Iran's reported role in training and
equipping Iraqis who are fighting US forces that have invaded and occupied
that country. We see it in the Bush administration's criticism of Iran's
role in funding and equipping Hezbollah in Lebanon. We see it in the Bush
administration's direction to the US military to detain Iranian diplomats in
Iraq, breach diplomatic facilities, and capture or kill Iranian operatives
in Iraq. We see it in the deployment of the third US Naval carrier group
(twenty more ships) to the Gulf.

    These actions indicate a very high probability of a US military attack
on Iran within the next month. The Bush administration will attempt to argue
that any of these triggers are so vital to the national security of the
United States that military action is required.

    Since January, 2002, the Bush administration has listed Iran as one of
the "Axis of Evil" nations. Iran is now surrounded by the United States
military. Iran's neighbors have been invaded and occupied by the Bush
administration: Iraq to the west, and Afghanistan to the east. 100 US naval
ships control access to the Persian Gulf to the south.

    Iran is a country with a remarkable 2,500 year history. Iran has a
population of 68 million people, 80,000 of whom still suffer from Iraq's use
of US, French, German and UK chemical weapons on them (20,000 more were
killed outright). This was the largest use of weapons of mass destruction,
since the US atomic bombing of two cities in Japan at the end of World War
II. Iran has a land mass three times the size of Iraq. Iran has a large
military, unconstrained by twelve years of sanctions. Iran has a modern
infrastructure. And Iran has a democracy in which the Parliament reportedly
is within ten votes of impeaching the country's abrasive president.

    Unless we de-rail Bush's next war, US Air Force and US Navy pilots will
be ordered to drop bunker busting, "smart" bombs on facilities of the
Iranian nuclear program. US Navy submarine and ship missile operators will
be ordered to push the buttons to release $1 million dollar Cruise missiles
that will demolish nuclear and military facilities. The military will claim
limited collateral damage, but, no doubt as in every military operation,
many innocent civilians will be killed by these attacks.

    Many in the Bush administration believe in retribution. 52 US diplomats
were held for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981 by Iranian
revolutionary guards and eight US military personnel were killed in the
unsuccessful, April 25, 1980 rescue attempt. To those in the Bush
administration who may believe in the retribution principle, one should
remind them of the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian civilian passenger
aircraft by a US Navy missile, that killed 290 civilian passengers. The 1979
US Embassy takeover score has been settled.

    Bombing Iranian facilities by the US military will cause the cycle of
violence to begin again. If the US attacks Iran, by international law Iran
has the legal right to defend itself from aggressive action by another
country. The world will be watching carefully to see if the US provokes an
incident whereby the Iranian military is forced into action against US
forces. The Gulf is filled with US military ships which may, by the actions
of the Bush administration, become legitimate targets.

    While we are on the topic of history and aggression, after World War II,
the United States executed German and Japanese military officers who were
convicted of crimes against peace (wars of aggression) and for violations of
the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.

    The Nuremberg Principles provide for accountability for war crimes
committed by military and civilian officials.

    Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states: "The fact that a person
acted pursuant to an order of his Government or of a superior does not
relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral
choice was in fact possible to him.

    Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles: The following crimes are
punishable as crimes under international law:

    a. Crimes against peace: i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging
of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances; ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy
for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

    b. War Crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include,
but are not limited to murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor
or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory,
murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing
of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of
cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military

    c. Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement,
deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or
persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are
done, or such persecutions are carried on in execution of, or in connection
with any crime against peace, or any war crime."

    Attacking Iran will be a crime against peace, a war crime. Those
conducting military operations will be violating the Nuremberg Principles,
the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Land Warfare. Prosecution for
commission of war crimes is possible.

    I appeal to the conscience of US Air Force and US Navy pilots and
military personnel who command cruise missiles and pilot bombers and those
who plan the missions for the pilots and missile commanders. I ask that they
refuse what I believe will be unlawful orders to attack Iran.

    Accountability for one's actions is finally becoming possible under the
new Congress. While refusal to drop bombs may initially draw punishment and
the loss of one's military career, those who refuse will save their soul,
their conscience and will prevent another criminal action in the name of our
country by the Bush administration.

    A Reminder: The oath for commissioned officers is to support and defend
the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and
domestic and not to a particular person or political party.


     Ann Wright retired from the US Army Reserves as a Colonel after 29
years. Ms. Wright served in Grenada, Panama, Greece, the Netherlands,
Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She
was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in
December 2001. She resigned from the US diplomatic corps in March 2003 in
opposition to the Iraq war.