US Government Is the Biggest Terrorist Organization on Planet: American Peace ActivistSeyyed Sajjad Moosavi
Jodie Evans is the co-founder and director of CODEPINK. She is primarily focused on sharing a global vision for peace and social justice. Since the start of the 2003 Iraq War, Jodie has traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Jordan on several occasions. She is also the co-editor of two books, "Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation" and "Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism." in an extensive interview with Parsi Policy she expresses her passion for the Persian culture and the necessity to stop the “war economy”.
Q: Why are you focused on Iran and what have you done so far?
As one of the co-founders of CODEPINK, as soon as we failed to stop the war in Iraq, the next day we started to work to keep the US from going to war with Iran. That's 17 years of focus on Iran and many times we have stopped acts of war on Iran.
So, in our hearts, Iran has been a lot of our work over the last 17 years. We've led about six delegations to Iran over that period of time. I've been on four of them. The last time I was there was last year in February. Our work has always been to end the sanctions, and there's some quite graphic and feisty videos of Medea Benjamin and I, disrupting those that are holding up the sanctions, including Brian Hook.
Recently, under the Trump administration, as the screws have continued to be turned, our work has constantly kept up. It's a weekly project of what can we do to raise up the cost of the sanctions to the Iranian people. And this is before the coronavirus; when people are dying of cancer and leukemia that can't get medication, when people can't leave the country to be educated because the US has closed down the major banks. So it's not just with the coronavirus, but before the coronavirus.
Last year, we were raising red flags about the fact that even though it says humanitarian aid can get into Iran, it can't, because of the complexity of the financial system and the Central Bank of Iran being under sanctions, and also of shipping companies and insurance companies that fear their whole business will be closed down if they do any business that affects Iran. It literally has been strangling Iran in every devious way with these sanctions that are so inhumane that literally make me cry.
We realized that we would not be able to end war until we end the war economy because war serves that war economy.
I visited Iran in 1972 and have been in love with Iran, with the Persian culture, my entire life. And just to go to Iran, and you can't help but fall in love with the people. At CODEPINK, we realized that we would not be able to end war until we end the war economy because war serves that war economy. So we work on developing what we call a "peace economy," which is the giving, sharing, caring, thriving, relational, resilient economy without which none of us would be alive.
Iran is a peace economy in the way that there is a sense of community and there's not the individualism, but that we're all in this together. That there is so much sharing and giving and caring that is just inherent in what it is to be Iranian. It's beyond heartbreaking that this war economy, this war, the hybrid war of sanctions, is being waged on the people of Iran, who have done nothing to deserve this level of violence, which is literally violence. When I speak to Americans, I say it's worse than bombs. It's a neutron bomb that kills the people and leaves the building standing. But we're not even talking about it.
Q: Your government is actively involved in creating wars around the globe, as an American how do you fell about that?
We started to end war and bring that money to the life-giving needs of humanity because in the United States 60% of our tax dollars go to this violence and war, which is shameful, which I'm ashamed of, but you can bring together the world. We must live in peace. We must recognize that we are one and find ways that we can live in peace.
We recognize the violence of war. We work on it across the world. And we can only work from where we are to try to change the biggest terrorist organization on the planet, which is the United States government.
Q: A lot of people talk about the medical effects of the sanctions against Iran during this coronavirus crisis. But it really goes a lot deeper because the sanctions have been in place for decades. What they not only weaken or limit Iran's access to medical supplies but also threaten lives of Iranian people.
We came to Iran to witness that ourselves so we know that. Our trips to Iran are about collecting stories that we can show that it's literally tearing the very fabric of the society. What these sanctions have basically been doing over the last few years is taking a country and devastating its middle class.
We continually tried to tell members of the Congress that you can't kill people and think that government is going to change. What you do is you kill people. You literally destroy their lives. And to devastate a culture like the Persian culture, which is the peace culture that we need globally, we need the wisdom of that culture, is beyond criminal. That has been our message for a very, very long time. But last year in all our trips, it was to expose that it's not just that it's killing people, it's killing the entire fabric of life. And that has been our message.
Q: The sanctions do, as many experts are saying, amount to collective punishment. A lot of Iranians have already been struggling financially in their daily lives and now that this coronavirus has spread a lot of people are losing their jobs and their situation is getting worse and worse because there is a pre-existing factor in sanctions.
I definitely agree with you. It is a policy of collective punishment, but it's beyond punishment. It's the strangling of life. Basically, sanctions strangle life, and it's a slow strangle. When you've been this long under sanctions, that strangle has a stranglehold. Like I said, it destroys the very fabric of culture.
If you have a country with more than half of the country at the edge, living day to day from what they're able to scrap together to feed their family, and then the capacity to feed your family is taken away, that's frightening. I can't even think about that. But I know it's happening. I know it's happening because I spoke to so many people and how close that edge was to them. And it's not just happening in Iran. It's happening around the world because the economic structures that we live in around the world have so many people who are the workers delivering the wealth, the mega wealth to way too few people that have half the wealth of an entire planet. Everyone else is suffering.
The sanctions are just part of this economic strategy that is strangling the people. And the people that have worked so hard to create beauty and to create life and to nourish life are the ones that are paying the price. And so it's beyond criminal. It's unthinkable. It's deviant beyond anything we've ever conceived of. And do you know what's hard? What's really hard is what we're going through is grief-strickening everyday, right? But to think of the structure that we live inside and how much it is failing us that so many of us gave lives to structures that we thought would be there for us and they are failing us.
That structure of healthcare that was at once vibrant in Iran has been one of those structures that has just been torn apart, ripped apart in every way it can be. It's just been starved. So you think of yourself when you're starved of food and nourishment, you can't fight anything. Basically Iran as a country has been starved and starved and continues to fight and continues with its dignity and continues with its beauty. But there's only so much you can do with, weak arms and no capacity.
Thank you very much. I have to say, your passion for life and for peace. I almost envy that and I do thank you on behalf of myself and my people.
Seyyed Sajjad Moosavi
Seyyed Sajjad Moosavi is an Iranian journalist and translator. He is regularly published on Mashregh News and is a contributor with Parsi Plocy.