President Rouhani on war and peace

 In several key speeches and interviews, new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has outlined his views on war and peace. “Any government that decides on war, we consider that a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect,” Rouhani said in his first interview for American television. The president also urged world leaders to break down walls of mistrust and suspicion to foster better relations. The tone was noticeably distinct from the inflammatory rhetoric former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In explaining Tehran’s opposition to war, Rouhani frequently cited Iran’s devastating experience during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Iraqi forces bombed Iran’s largest cities and used chemical weapons on thousands of Iranian soldiers. The war claimed up to 1 million casualties. The following are excerpted remarks by Rouhani.

“We are very worried about war in our region. We have the experience of a number of destructive wars in this region. The day we feel a new war is about to happen in our region, we consider its destructive consequences.  In the past few weeks, my government made many efforts to ensure that the region does not witness a new war. In this context, the cooperation between Russia and Iran has been notable.

            “We consider war a weakness. Any government that decides on war, we consider that a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect for the sake of peace. I do not want to make a judgment about individuals or the American government. I want to express my happiness about a new war not starting.  This is important to me and for my people and for the nations in the region.”
            “The people and the government of Iran abhor threats as much they hate war. The passion of the Iranians is friendship all around the world. We do not see any reason for anyone to threaten us.”
            Sept. 18, 2013 in an interview with NBC
            “We are against all wars and are ourselves a victim of war and invasion.
            “We call on all the warmongers not to seek a new war in the region [over Syria], because its consequences will bring them regret. War must be stopped by logic, politics and cooperation between regional countries… we must try to bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table.
            “War and diplomacy have no relation to one another, and no free and logical nation accepts diplomacy and war on the same table.”
            Sept. 22, 2013 in an address marking the Iran-Iraq War to the armed forces
            “Suspicions and miscalculations have created many walls between nations. Leaders must try to remove these walls. The wall which is called mistrust, the wall which is called suspicion, the wall called miscalculation should all be torn down, and an atmosphere of friendship and kindness should be established among all nations.”
            “What we wish for in this region [the Middle East] is rule by the will of the people. We believe in the ballot box. We do not seek war with any country. We seek peace and friendship among the nations of the region.”
            Sept. 18, 2013 in an interview with NBC
            “Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action. This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.”
           Sept. 19, 2013 in an op-ed for The Washington Post
            “The Iranian nation is a lover of peace and culture, and it is after progress without any causing damage to other countries.”

Sept. 23, 2013 in remarks to local media

By The Iran Primer