By Zoon Ahmad Khan
‘Today the capacity of power is not to make war, but to prevent it’. Anne O’Hare McCormick
The Iranian question needs to be dealt with delicately precariously and intelligently. Firstly the problem with Iran, addressed by Simon Jenkins: the media has chosen to portray Iran as Iraq in 2002: Iran is a proud civilization with a well developed civil society and a reasonably pluralistic democracy. To portray this nation as a radical dictatorship that has every reason to ‘bomb’ the West and the Zionists is silly if nothing else.
Another argument he brings forward that serves to refute the level of apprehension that the US and Israel share regarding an Iranian Nuclear Program for the purpose of waging war is that in today’s world developing a nuclear program to get back at the West is simply not economically viable. Terrorist attacks, suicide bombings for instance are economically feasible and more effective strategies. Then even if Iran were successful in building nuclear weapons, common sense suggests Israel has no reason to feel threatened by such a development. Nuclear dissemination is dreadful but is also incredibly overhyped.
Therefore an important question that needs to be addressed is not whether Iran is or is not going against the non-proliferation agreement or that Iran hasn’t been able to convincingly defend her claims against the allegations of the IAEA Report. But rather, why has the pursuit of a military nuclear program become a right reserved by the West and its allies? By what right do two Nuclear Powers justify violence to keep others from joining their bizarrely exclusive club? Does Iran, like Israel, India and Pakistan not have the right to acquire weapons that give it a sense of security, be it false?
Tehran has discarded the IAEA report as unprofessional, prejudiced and geared towards fulfilling American and Israeli agenda. Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, has questioned the unparalleled move of putting “hypothetical, circumstantial and unsubstantiated matters” on the General Assembly’s agenda. Such actions “would significantly undermine the role, authority, integrity and credibility of the General Assembly as the highest and universal political body of the United Nations”.
This latest update on the US-Iran front has successfully placed America’s credibility and sense of judgment on incredibly thin ice. The US, since the Hollywood inspired ‘Iranian Assassination Plot’, has made harsh statements at Tehran. Unfortunately the IAEA Report in and of itself doesn’t justify level of anxiety that Washington and Israel are experiencing. The report in fact rules out any justifications for not only an airstrike but also tougher sanctions on Iran for the time being. A recent report reveals that the four rounds of sanctions have only been successful in damaging the middle class. Factories have shut down, people are jobless and low quality good are flooding the market. The intended target of these sanctions, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has only managed to grow stronger.
British declaring their support for the American attack on Iran will bring what the ‘Wars of 9/11’ even couldn’t: a Muslim-Christian-Apocalypse which would swallow up an already vulnerable region. Pentagon has warned against taking any military action against Iran. Leon Panetta (Defense Secretary, USA) cautioned the two fizzling allies on the basis that military strike would undermine the UN as an institution which has been seeking an Iran mission to address nuclear concerns and also have grave repercussions on the already beaten down world economy. Russia and China have withdrawn any possible support for even heavier sanctions; rather blame the US for closing channels to diplomatic solutions. At this point for US, even supporting more crippling sanctions will require harder evidence.
Still the IAEA report has breathed momentum to the debate of whether or not (even when ideally) an attack should be launched on the Islamic regime. Proponents of an attack argue that it will raise the costs for pursuing the program along with delaying it. Opponents point out that even if a successful delay of utmost three years is achieved, military intervention is bound to increase the regime’s determination of pursuing this goal. An attack would also create an anti American sentiment among the people, and given the current assumption, that polarities exist, the opposition can become stronger only if they don’t see an enemy bigger than the current regime. Otherwise there is risk of alliance.
Another technical problem with ‘bombing’ Iran’s nuclear program is that it is by far more sophisticated than Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007). The sites have been ‘hardened’ and concealed from international view. After successfully carrying out impossibly well coordinated series of attacks, constantly re visiting the sights to make sure activities are not resumed would be required. Now here we are listing these series of events, assuming Iran will sit and let her ‘Iron fists’ dangle on the sides while all this is happening. Iran will most definitely react and aggressively so. The statements made by Ayatollah Khomeini against Israeli threats have been shockingly bold. The Supreme Leader of the nation has since been popularly quoted for: Iran will respond ‘with Iron fists’.
Admiral Mullen while addressing Columbia University in 2010 said “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.”
It is apparent that despite their reaction to the IAEA Repost, the Obama Administration cannot afford to march against Iran any time soon given inner conflict and rising unpopularity of Wars that have already played a pivotal role in ravaging their domestic economy. Israel might want to act all ‘macho’ and make believe it can handle the business, but the truth is the ultimate Western agenda, regime change in Iran, is a far more precarious task than Israel alone can handle.
The post 9/11 wars have rolled thunder down the Muslim World and the most lucid form of which is the Arab Spring. Although the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and (very temporarily) the Taliban have been achieved, the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, displacement of millions, infrastructural damage, billions of dollars of tax payers’ money only combine to form the tip of a massive glacier. Rebuilding these economies, their institutions, and lives is a daunting prospect. When will these regions become stable? And the notorious question: for liberty and ‘freedom’ what is the price that needs to be paid? These wars in terms of human sacrifice have been massive tragedies. Where would we have been without them, we won’t know. But the misfortune is that the decisions made in the past decade have not had made any difference to ‘Western Security’.
Modern Iran is one country that was ideal for soft-power diplomacy, however in the case of post Revolution Iran, the United States has always been condemned for overusing intelligence and under utilizing diplomacy. It is as if Iran must earn the ‘right to diplomatic solutions’. Ideally speaking, like many other third world countries (like Pakistan), Iran must have been flooded with aid and trade. Instead the US always chose to misunderstand the Iranian representatives. Although this paper argues that Islamic regime and a strong military in Iran’s case is not a threat the way the Taliban are, even if we make that assumption, the fact remains anything being done to weaken the ‘Revolutionary Guards’ weakens the intellectual, professional and business class. What are being destroyed therefore are the seeds of Pluralism and opposition. Such ‘misfires’ are signs of sheer oblivion. ‘The virus that seems to be running through the upper ranks is the moral sense of duty of waging war’.
This imperial mentality that has dominated American foreign policy has resulted in a ‘Warrior Politics’ that has so far crippled more than reformed.
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