Ignorance and Antagonism

[tweetmeme] Sadly, not a day goes by where calls for an attack on Iran are not heard.  From the pages of the New York Times to Foreign Affairs to Newsweek credible and scholarly men and women continue to call for sanctions and/or military options to be considered and enhanced.

This is a dangerous and ignorant assertion. For example, in a recent Newsweek Article CFR president Richard Haas called for a more antagonistic approach to U.S.-Iranian relations. What is more problematic is that someone as scholarly and mainstream as Dr. Haas is now arguing for “regime-change-lite“.  It would seem, similar to the pre-Iraq invasion, that a case is being built for military action.  Nothing could be more dangerous for the American or Iranian public.

More upsetting is that someone like Dr. Haas fails to recognize, or at least mention, the reason for the Iranian effort to proliferate-if that is indeed what they are doing. So, why would Iran be seeking Nuclear weapons?  The Iranian regime does so to protect itself from further meddling or attack from the West.  This is quite clear. According to the eminent Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld, If [after the invasion of Iraq] the Iranians are not developing Nuclear weapons they are “crazy”.  Iran, like Pakistan or India, seeks Nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

Americans seem to forget the coup d’etat in 1952-53, in which the democratically elected prime minister was replaced by the authoritarian Shah… supported and funded by the United States. Over the past 50 years the U.S. has unleashed a series of military and economic attacks against the State of Iran. It is for this reason, not Islamic doctrine or the irrationality of it’s leaders, that the current Iranian regime seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.

The U.S has shown that those who do not acquire a deterrent-like WMDs- are subject to U.S. intervention and occupation: Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Nicaragua, Vietnam…. the list goes on and on.  It logically follows, then, that Iran would seek such a deterrent.

Furthermore, even if Iran acquires a nuclear device the U.S., and Israel, will be just fine.  To quote, again, Professor Van Creveld:

We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons … thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.” (my emphasis)

Such candor. While the second half of his remark signals a dangerous reality about the Military Industrial Complex, such a digression is unwarranted here.   If the U.S. and Israel continue the relentless wave of rhetoric and antagonism it is quite possible that violence will follow.  But it should be noted that if violence does indeed follow it will be because of U.S. and Israeli antagonism, not because of Iranian irrationality or Islamic doctrine.

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3 thoughts on “Ignorance and Antagonism

  1. I find ‘Ignorance and Antagonism’ to be a suitable title for your entry. Your knowledge seems to be inaccurate and your piece was littered with apocryphal facts. I do believe that if you are to use the internet to make such noble entreaties that you double-check facts before making such passionate (and laudable) but , unfortunately, highly spurious claims.

    Whilst respecting a state’s right to exist and self-determination I fail to appreciate nor accept the Islamic Republic of Iran’s failure to fulfill its vested obligations to protect its citizens and uphold basic universal human rights, especially in view of the summer of 2009.

    I didn’t support the war in Iraq but I do believe that interventionism shouldn’t become interdicted by liberals as a result of such misadventures. This in itself is a folly of the greatest order. The failure to intervene in Somalia, Rwanda, Palestine and Chechnya is a stain on human history and liberals and conservatives in power have had to share the blame for their reticence.

    Now it would be both erroneous and misguided to equate the Islamic Republic of Iran’s 30 years of reign to the tragedies I have just mentioned but it would be imprudent to rule out intervention.

    The reverberations following the democratic election this summer were indeed severe and the actions of Ahmadinejad’s administration are captious to say the least. It is this very fact, coupled with the general tone of the previous administrations, that causes a degree of concern in the West.

    Your assertion that the US has conducted military and economic attacks on the state of Iran over the past 50 years is also exceptionally fallacious. Their decision to depose the government of Mossadegh was implemented at the behest of the British government fearing that they would lose previous oil deals. Subsequently the US supported the Shah both military and economically, coincidentally Israel was one of the largest military donors to Iran pre-1979. It was only the US hostage crisis and the condemnation of US, Britain and Israel by Khomeini that resulted in the ill-feeling between the parties.

    Secondly Mossadegh wasn’t assassinated, please get such basic facts correct.

    As for the nuclear question. The shroud of mystery that surrounds this issue makes it near impossible to make a decisive correct approach. As a result diplomats have to play a careful game. It would be catastrophic to invade the IRI, in similar circumstances to Iraq, and again find that weapons of mass destruction did not exist. Such a move would further erode the West’s moral credibility, and furthermore disrupt any effort to restore peace, in their favour in this troubled region. However, there is a need to ensure that regional stability is ensured and that key allies in the region are protected. This includes states such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Gulf States, Turkey or India. An arms race in a volatile region would also be unadvised.

    Of course the numerous existential threats and the Iraq invasion has led the IRI to, understandably, question its security and I’m sure they see a nuclear weapon as a means to ensure their existence. In such a way Dr Haas’ article is another excuse for the IRI to develop nuclear weapons. However, in such volatile times it would be better to act multilaterally to stop an insular and democratically/morally corrupt state from developing such capabilities, especially when it has disregarded global warnings.

    Also I fear for you following comment:

    The U.S has shown that those who do not acquire a deterrent-like WMDs- are subject to U.S. intervention and occupation: Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Nicaragua, Vietnam…. the list goes on and on. It logically follows, then, that Iran would seek such a deterrent.

    Is this an excuse for all despotic regimes to develop nuclear weapons in an effort to perpetuate their tyrannic rule?

    N.B I’m neither conservative nor liberal. I’m neither a hawk nor a dove. I believe in human rights and the hope that citizens of countries deserve to live their lives in relative security.

  2. Well where to start:

    Thank you for the comment. I must correct the mistake you have pointed out. It is true that in the coup d’etat of 1952-53 Mossadegh was not assassinated, but rather was ousted from power and imprisoned.

    Moving on:

    “I fail to appreciate nor accept the Islamic Republic of Iran’s failure to fulfill its vested obligations to protect its citizens and uphold basic universal human rights, especially in view of the summer of 2009.”

    This could be said of any, and all, states in the world. Why single out Iran as unique in this respect. The U.S. does not uphold any “basic universal human rights”. Would it be fair, then, that certain states plan, threaten, and implement regime change in the United States? Of course, for the betterment of Americans.

    “Your assertion that the US has conducted military and economic attacks on the state of Iran over the past 50 years is also exceptionally fallacious.”

    Let me clarify. In the 1950’s the United States overthrew a democratically elected government because it threatened its own, and British, economic interests. After the coup d’etat, the U.S. funded and supported an extremely brutal despot. Political parties were banned, political opponents were killed or imprisoned, Iranian oil was sold at cheap price for the U.S. while Iranians suffered tremendous economic hardship, and so on. Inserting a undemocratic despot to further our own economic interests while the local population suffered under such rule is attacking, violently and economically, the people of Iran.

    Furthermore, you are correct in the notion that the precise nuclear capabilities and ambitions of Iran are a mystery. However, the IAEA and the U.S. intelligence apparatus have quite explicitly noted that there is little, if any, evidence to support claims of nuclear proliferation by the Iranian regime.

    However, lets concede that Iran IS developing nuclear weapons. Why are thy developing? As I said, as a deterrent to constant aggression from other states; most notably the United States. This is the same reason states like Israel seek WMDs.

    The comment you “fear for [me]” is absolutely correct. This is not an excuse, merely an observation. The U.S. does not attack strong regimes; that would be counter productive. The U.S. has a long history of undermining regimes, until they are quite weak politically, economically, or militarily, and then funding or supporting a coup. This is all done, regularly, in opposition to local popular movements as seen in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and Iran.

    Further, such a course of action is a rational one. States like Iran recognize the danger of being weak. A weapon, like a nuclear weapon, changes the dynamics and gives Iran leverage. I agree that we don’t want a new Cold War in the region but the U.S. needs to evaluate its own policy because it is contributing to the escalation of violence.

    I thank you for your post and am interested to see your response.

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