Recently, it’s been reported that Congress is considering a new series of sanctions against Iran, but this isn’t generating much media attention. Perhaps it’s because 99% of Americans think of Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the US. But, at further analysis, I think we’ll find that Americans think of Iran as a threat as a result of media propaganda. To proceed with this, I’ll use a simple Q&A format to dissect the situation and then suggest alternative policy suggestions.
Why is Iran a threat?
The media actually gives no answer to this question, usually substituting jingoism and fear-mongering in place of real facts. There is an authoritative answer to this question, which we can get from Pentagon’s reports to Congress about a year ago. They, not anti-war activists, claim that Iran’s military doctrine is strictly “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities,” with only “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders.” The threat seems to be that Iran is expressing its sovereignty.
Then why is everyone scared of Iran?
The USA does not approve of expressions of sovereignty, especially in regions as volatile and important as the Middle East. Non-friendly regimes are to be eliminated by hook or by crook. This policy is not solely Obama’s, nor Bush’s. This goes back half a century.
How are we dealing with this “threat?”
Since the 2012 elections, Obama’s been advertising himself to be a moderate in dealing with Iran. He’s stated he doesn’t want to put any troops on the ground. Nevertheless, his foreign policy on Iran is rather hawkish, and the “strong” sanctions he’s advocated are leading to the suffering of ordinary Iranians. Prices of essentials like food and medicine are up, and though Biden asserted that “the Ayatollah sees his economy being crippled,” the only thing being crippled by these policies is average people.
Then why does Iran adamantly continue with their nuclear weapon program?
Firstly, they’re allowed to! It’s not them, but us, who are violating international law. The major reason that Iran is trying to become capable of making a nuclear weapon: They’d be crazy not to. They have good reason to want a deterrent. USA has them virtually surrounded militarily. Historically speaking, our record in Iran is atrocious. When we overthrew a popular leader, Mossadegh, in the 1950s, we installed a corrupt, brutal, unpopular dictatorship with Shah Reza Pahlavi. Then, we funded Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s. Now, we just invaded their two neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s clear we don’t care about international law or condemnation.
How is Iran’s “nuclear program” doing?
Let’s clarify what we mean by “nuclear program.” Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons and they’re nowhere close to them. In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate says that Iran stopped trying to develop nuclear weapons in 2003. On top of that, their military spending is a tiny fraction of their economy, and minuscule compared to our “defense” spending.
What would be the consequences if Iran does build nuclear weapons?
Ehud Barak, former Israeli PM, said that Iran wouldn’t nuke Israel even if it got weapons, since “they are radical but not totally crazy.” Bill Clinton said that if Iran launched a nuclear weapon, “their whole society would disappear.” His wife and former US Secretary of State, Hilary, claimed that the US “could [and presumably would] obliterate” Iran. Though it’s not clear to most Americans, top-level officials know that Iran would not actually launch a nuclear weapon; it is simply a deterrent. It’s no wonder people in the Middle East say they would be safer if Iran had nuclear weapons.
So what should we do?
- End the sanctions. It is monstrous to punish the citizens of a country for its government’s actions.
- Remove the military bases surrounding Iran. They drain our budget and justify Iran’s efforts at nuclear capability.
- Support anti-war organizations within Iran to put democratic and diplomatic pressure on Iran.
- Seriously consider and advocate for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East…like Iran.