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Guest opinion: Diplomacy needed with Iran, not war

Guest opinion: Diplomacy needed with Iran, not war

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins runs for U.S. Senate


America is a powerful country. We have the strongest military, but it's not the source of our true strength. The true measure of the power we possess is not enhanced nor embraced when we are fighting a war, but rather when we are leading the charge in diplomacy and peace building to ensure a more prosperous future for our children.

War should be the very last resort for a country that is made up of all the different places and regions of the world. War should also have a defined and strategic goal that will benefit America and our global allies in the long run.

The actions and lack of clarity by this administration that could provoke a war with Iran is irresponsible and I do not support it or this president’s warmongering. I’m proud to announce my support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s bill to limit the Trump administration's ability to provoke a war with Iran.

Our decision to risk American lives should not be contemplated via tweet, nor should war be escalated that way. I have spent time in a refugee camp and I have had the honor of wearing a U.S. military uniform. Both of those experiences have humbled me and made me proud to be an American, and they have also allowed me to understand, firsthand, the life-long consequences of war and destabilization in any region.

Being an American can't be defined in one short sentence, for we are a diverse nation, a nation of varying backgrounds, religions and ideologies.

When it comes to putting all of that on the line, that of which makes us who we are, we should have a general consensus among the majority of Americans that would prove going into war to be the best course of action. Any other way to come to that conclusion is not the right way. If the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us anything, it's that these situations don't have happy endings.

Trust has to be earned. It is based upon relationships, which are built upon past experience and thrive with mutual respect. Past performance is the best indicator of future outcomes. This administration has not provided concrete justification for war with Iran and is asking us to trust them. They have not earned our trust and have not provided evidence to allow any rational American to believe that a war with Iran is in our national best interest.

The cost is too high and the risk is too great to start an unnecessary and unjustified war in the Middle East. It will weaken our military, hurt our economy, and make us less safe at home.

When I trained to be a diplomat I learned stability promotes peace and economic prosperity. Turning away from diplomacy due to petty personal differences is not how a leader of the free world acts. Unjustified violence has no place in our national discourse. These actions are unprecedented and unpresidential. Escalating military action and going to war with Iran is not in our national interest. Committing our young people to an unjustified war is not the path to a better tomorrow and I refuse to support this administration’s efforts to stoke the flames of war for political gain.

Wilmot Collins is the mayor of Helena. He is a veteran of the Navy Reserve, Army Reserve and National Guard, a former adjunct professor at Helena College, and child protection specialist. He fled from civil war in Liberia and arrived in Helena in 1994 as a refugee. He is a campaigning for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Steve Daines.


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