President Trump, in a recent tweet, claimed that “Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation.” As a world citizen, and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war with firsthand experience of the bitterness of war, I have a couple of suggestions and responses for the president of the United States.
First, I recommend that he never use the words “win” and “winning” to describe any war. U.S. history is filled with bitter experiences of war and losing. There is no need to remind the president of the United States the result of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and even its engagement in Yemen. None of these horrifying experiences—nor any other war for that matter—has ever achieved its goals.
As a veteran and a peace activist, I would like to suggest to the president of the United States that the first step in any combat is understanding the adversary. As an Iranian war veteran, I strongly suggest he study the culture and history of an old civilization like Iran’s. Iranians, those he labels as a “terrorist nation,” are proud and pleased at having not initiated a war in the past 250 years. We proudly have never invaded, intruded, and oppressed any other nations, either in our neighborhood or even in response to our revilers and foes.
Nonetheless, there is a delicacy in the sophisticated culture of Iran that separates the ancient nation of Iran from President Trump and his hawkish “B-Team.” That is the view we each have toward war. War, for us, is not an option. We never choose to go to war, we only respond to war.