Attack Iran? US Ambassador Says: “Whatever Israel Wants”?

March 7th, 2023 - by Friends Committee on Legislation, Win Without War, The Quincy Institute et al.

An Israeli attack on Iran would backfire like it’s 1981 strike on Iraq.

Letter Opposes US Ambassador’s Remarks
On Israeli Military Ops Against Iran

Friends Committee on Legislation, Win Without War, The Quincy Institute et al.

FCNL, Win Without War, NIAC, and Quincy Institute are leading a sign-on letter, pushing back on US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides’ worrying comments that “Israel can and should do whatever they need to deal with [Iran’s nuclear program] and we’ve got their back.” We’d love for other national organizations to join this effort.

The letter expresses our concerns over the risks of an Israeli or US/Israeli military operation on Iran, including a possible Iranian government attempt to accelerate its nuclear program in response, and real fears of a wider, disastrous conflict breaking out. It also reaffirms that Congress, and not the administration, is the government branch to decide whether the US goes to war.

The letter urges Secretary Blinken “to immediately clarify publicly that Ambassador Nides comments do not reflect current administration policy and that the United States does not support Israel starting war with Iran.”

See the full letter below.

Millions in our country struggle with hunger,
homelessness, poverty, rising healthcare costs.
It’s time for Congress to prioritize their needs
over the profits of big corporate arms suppliers.



The Honorable Secretary Blinken
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We, the undersigned organizations, write to express deep concern about recent comments from the United States Ambassador to Israel. Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations summit in Jerusalem on February 19, Ambassador Nides told the crowd, “Israel can and should do whatever they need to deal with [Iran] and we’ve got their back.”

It’s critical that you clarify that these comments do not reflect US policy towards Iran for the sake of regional stability, future diplomacy, and respect for Congress’ constitutional responsibility for war powers.

In both the United States and Israel, there is a vigorous debate about how best to ensure Iran does not secure nuclear weapons. Reports indicate that Israeli military planners are seriously considering the possibility of a bombing campaign against Iran – with or without the United States.

As press reports of previous US war games revealed, such Israeli action is likely to quickly escalate into a broader regional war — one that would be “hell on earth” if it pulled in the United States.

In this context, publicly or even privately offering unconditional US support for unspecified military action by Israel, or any ally, sets an extremely dangerous precedent and risks further escalation.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.

If the failed Trump administration campaign of “maximum pressure” opened the door to the Iranian government increasing its enrichment activities, then a bombing campaign against Iran would only make certain that it eventually secures nuclear weapons, completely undermining a core US security objective, while also setting back Iran’s grassroots movement for democracy and human rights. The United States must make its opposition to the military option known, publicly and privately.

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution is clear. Only Congress has the authority to declare war. The framers gave Congress this power to ensure that the American people, through their elected representatives, have a say in the extraordinary decision of whether to choose war.

Congress has not authorized military action against Iran, and Ambassador Nides’ loose talk raises concerns that the administration may again ignore Congress’ constitutional role, and the public’s clear preference, by rushing into a conflict over which the people and their representatives have no say.

The human costs of a military operation that ignites a broader war would be staggering and tragic. Thousands of American troops are stationed in the region, many in the direct line of fire if Iran and its proxies were to mount large-scale retaliations in response to Israeli attacks. It was only two years ago when Iranian missile strikes battered a US base in Iraq, seriously injuring more than 100 troops.

Beyond US casualties, such a conflict would threaten untold numbers of communities in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and possibly beyond — nations already in the throes of civil conflict, economic collapse, or both. If a wider regional conflict were to break out, many more civilian and military casualties would be certain to follow in Israel and across US positions throughout the region.

Given Tehran’s past aggression directed at American and allied assets and its ongoing threats to retaliate in response to military action, it is confounding, then, that Ambassador Nides implied the administration has given Israel license to act unilaterally. The United States should never outsource its foreign policy to other states — to do so would be highly irresponsible and an abdication of the government’s responsibility to protect the American people.

We are concerned the right-wing Israeli government will perceive these remarks as tacit approval for military action, even when such action most likely will damage US national security interests, further embroil our military in regional conflict, and prevent future diplomacy.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the disastrous US decision to invade Iraq, which should give policymakers real pause about the unforeseen consequences of a seemingly limited and short term military operation.

We therefore urge you to immediately clarify publicly that Ambassador Nides comments do not reflect current administration policy and that the United States does not support Israel starting war with Iran.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.