Holding signs like “No Iran War” and “truth is always the first casualty of war,” about 40 people gathered in front of the Gallatin County Courthouse Friday to voice their disapproval of the United States entering a war against Iran.

“We do not want to allow an incompetent, foolish, ignorant president to waste our resources and kill families in Iran because of his ego and his advice from long-time warmongers like John Bolton,” said Dan Lourie, a member of Veterans for Peace, referring to President Donald Trump’s national security advisor.

Lourie and Jan Strout with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom organized Friday’s event in response to tensions between the United States and Iran, which have escalated since Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement last year. Several local organizations joined Lourie and Strout at the event, including Montana Women For, Montana Hate Free Zone, Gallatin Progressive Action Network and Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“Peace is patriotic and it is more than the absence of war and it starts with each of us,” Strout said.

She urged attendees to sign a petition asking Sens. Steve Daines and John Tester to vote for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require congressional approval before military funds can be spent on a conflict with Iran and to co-sponsor a similar piece of legislation, the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019.

In a vote Friday, the Senate rejected the National Defense Authorization Act amendment with Tester, a Democrat, voting for the amendment and Daines, a Republican, voting against it, but Strout said it is not too late for constituents to tell lawmakers they don’t support a war against Iran.

As she stood on the courthouse steps, Montana State University political science professor Franke Wilmer said war is ineffective and the U.S.' recent interventions in the Middle East have caused thousands of human casualties and further destabilized the region.

Ed Stafman, who retired as the rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom last year, voiced his disapproval of the country's foreign policy agenda.

“We have legitimate disagreements with Iran, but the answer is diplomacy, not war,” he said. “In the Jewish tradition, peace and justice are two sides of the same coin. … In the name of peace and justice, we must each do whatever we can to take back power — in Washington, yes — but we must begin in Bozeman and Helena.”

As the event came to a close, Cameron Tehranchi, who traveled from Livingston to participate in the rally, read a poem he wrote shortly after hearing the news that Trump was considering a strike on Iran over the downing of a U.S. drone last week.

“I’m Iranian-American and it makes me incredibly sad to see us going down this path, and I think the problem in Montana is people don’t have faces for the issues,” he said. “If we saw each other’s faces, listened to each other’s music and ate each other’s food, it would be a lot different.”

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

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