Stephen Miles on Press the Button

War Is Not A Spectator Sport

A progressive activist on stopping war with Iran before it's too late


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“We can start with, quite simply, it’s really, really bad.” 

Stephen Miles, the executive director of Win Without War, sat down with Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione for a rundown of the crisis with Iran following the US killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. 

“I’ve been working on these issues for going on nine years,” continued Miles, “and this is the closest that we’ve been to a direct military confrontation with Iran on a major scale.”

Miles places the responsibility for the ongoing escalation squarely on the Trump administration. “Since day one of this administration, this president has taken one provocative escalatory measure after another,” he said. “Whether it was walking away from the JCPOA, sending thousands of troops to the region, sending arms in unprecedented numbers to the region.”

And unlike the North Korean “fire and fury” crisis in 2017 when South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in bailed out the Americans with a diplomatic initiative, there doesn’t seem to be anyone coming to the rescue now. “There is no off-ramp because [Trump] has surrounded himself with people … who’ve made it their job to systematically dismantle and remove off-ramps to war.”

That being said, Miles argued that it’s not too late for a diplomatic outcome. “I don’t think the die is cast. People still do have a chance to make their voices heard.”

“The one thing that can change the course of events is, if we can demonstrate that the American public is opposed to this, we can hopefully then change this president's thinking and his calculus.”

“We need to be in the streets,” Miles continued. “We need to make our voices heard through Congress. So that Congress gets off of its backside and gets into this fight.”

The weight of numbers is with us, Miles explained. “Overwhelmingly, a majority of Americans are opposed to conflict with Iran,” he said. “They do not want this war in poll after poll after poll. People understand that it's this president and his actions that have gotten us to this point and they want to see them stopped. Everyone is on the side of opposing a stupid war that has no business being fought.”

If people need a plan of action, it’s easy. “They should pick up the phone and call their Member of Congress. They can email their Member of Congress — any way to make their voice heard,” he said. “If you have Twitter, get on Twitter — tell them they need to stop war with Iran. Tell them they need to do everything in their power.”

Win Without War, a network of activists for a more peaceful, progressive US foreign policy, is already teaming up with organizations like MoveOn and Indivisible to mobilize people across the country to stop this slide toward war.

As for himself, Miles knows what he’ll be doing. “I’m going to be looking and listening to the voices of the American public and the voices from the region who are begging, pleading, and doing everything they can to ask us here in Washington to stop this war.” 

“They're being unequivocal. And our job is to listen to them.”

Listen to the rest of the podcast here.

Join the fight against a war with Iran by visiting Win Without War.

About Press the Button: in addition to "The Interview" in which Joe Cirincione sits down with prominent thinkers, legislators, activists, and grantees working on nuclear weapons issues for a short, illuminating conversation, episodes have two other segments: "Early Warning" — a round-up of the most pressing nuclear news in 7 minutes, roughly the same amount of time the US president has to authorize a nuclear weapons launch in the event of an incoming attack on the United States; and "In the Silo" — a monthly, close-up look at key nuclear issues and events around the world, utilizing field recordings, media clips, interviews, and extensive narration.



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