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Quakers: Hard on U.S., Easy on Iran

Posted By Mark D. Tooley On December 12, 2012 @ 12:10 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 16 Comments

Long ago, the political arm of Quakers in the U.S. shifted away from traditional peace causes to radical, far-left advocacy that benefits violently aggressive regimes that torment their own people and threaten world peace. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) never met an anti-American regime it could not defend.  Iran’s notorious theocracy of the apocalyptic mullahs with nuclear weaponry ambitions is the latest beneficiary of Quaker advocacy.

AFSC has contacted members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Armed Services committees, with “appropriate” committee staff, to warn against a “dangerous provision threatening war with Iran” within the final National Defense Authorization Act that that Congress is currently negotiating.

The House version of the legislation urges U.S. policy to “take all necessary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies, or Iran’s neighbors with a nuclear weapon.”  The Quakers object that this language would require the Defense Department to theorize about enhancing U.S. naval strength in the Middle East and to conduct preparatory military operations in the region.

In their letter to the congressional committee, the Quakers complained that this legislation would challenge the President’s “well-established constitutional prerogatives with respect to U.S. foreign policy” and would attempt to “micro-manage” presidential command over U.S. Forces.  How touching that the Quaker lobby is considerately now defending presidential war powers, for which the Quakers are not typically renowned.

More characteristically, the Quakers tut-tut that the House legislation would “undermine” the administration’s “diplomatic efforts with Iran, and push the United States closer to a war that countless military leaders and top national security officials have warned would be disastrous for U.S. national security interests.”  Their pleading letter concludes:  “We hope you will also join countless U.S. and Israeli military and security officials in speaking out against another war of choice in the Middle East.”  Again, the sudden Quaker regard for U.S. and Israeli military and security officials is unusual.

A more candid letter from the Quaker lobby would forthrightly declare that even if Iran were testing a nuclear weapon tomorrow with specific plans to obliterate Tel Aviv (or to sneak into a U.S. city), they would oppose any consideration of military action to stop it.  The modern Quaker approach to statecraft, aligned with contemporary Religious Left activism almost everywhere, opposes all “violence,” no matter how many innocents must die in defense of their abstract philosophical point.  That their policies would directly encourage and facilitate even greater violence is seemingly inconsequential to the professional religious peace activists.

The U.S. House legislation to which the Quaker lobby objects urges diplomacy, sanctions and “credible, visible preparations for a military option.”  Noting that diplomacy and sanctions so far have been unsuccessful in sidetracking Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the legislation suggests that “additional pressure” could come from a “credible threat of military action against Iran’s nuclear program.”  So of course the legislation seeks to protect the world from nuclear-armed Iranian psychopaths and to prevent war by offering a credible threat to the mad regime of mullahs.   But even the suggestion of implied force to deter even greater violence is sufficient to give these Quakers the vapors.  Oddly, the prospect of Iranian theocrats anxious for End Times and for extinguishing Israel, among other targets, does not seem to fuel much if any anxiety at the Quaker lobby office.

Maybe the Quaker lobby perspective might have a pinch of credibility if, while forthcoming about the Quaker commitment to absolute pacifism, at least expressed alarm about Iranian nuclear weapons, about Iranian threats against Israel and others, and about the Iranian regime’s bloody 33-year reign of terror over the Iranian people.  But the Quaker lobby prefers to imagine, as it has across the last half century or so, that murderous tyrants are in fact quite reasonable, and the main threat to peace is not from the killers but rather from those who attempt to stop them.

In a FAQ about the Iranian nuclear question, the Quaker lobby avoids virtually any negative language about Iran’s theocracy. Instead, it faults the U.S. for failure to accept Iranian compromises.  And it wonders about the seriousness of objections to Iranian nukes when the U.S. and Israel already have nuclear weapons.  After all, from the Quaker lobby perspective, all regimes seem to be morally equal, and all violence is equally unacceptable.  The real solution, it insists, is a nuclear free world.

Quakers have always been pacifists but they have not always funded a far-left Capitol Hill lobby that churns out dogmatic policy demands for a radically egalitarian and utopian view of social justice.  Ironically, the Quaker lobby wants lots, lots more government but doesn’t want the government using force.  So it’s not really clear how the state should gain its revenues or impose its rule.

No matter.   The Quaker lobby prefers surreal dreams to reality.  Quakers are few in number, and probably most are far more realistic than the political lobby that professes to represent them.  But the Quaker lobby says what virtually the whole organized Religious Left believes in terms of dogmatic pacifism, anti-Americanism, and incongruent demands for ever more monolithic and controlling Big Government.

Very little, if any of it, makes sense.  But the Quaker lobby, which dates back to World War II, is undeterred and, thankfully, mostly ignored.

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