Proceed with Caution


There has been a lot in the news lately about the possibility of preemptive strike against Iran.  The media seems to be on a fear-mongering mission.  When I searched Fox News for news items about Iran, and the first item that came out pertained to two Ayatollahs who believe that this is the end times, and that they believe the United States is the “Great Satan” and Israel “Little Satan.”  There is very little in the way of factual reporting in the article.  Most of it focuses on instilling fear in the reader about unknown and frightening people in a far-flung, culturally strange land.  Does anyone else hear the drumbeats just over the other side of that hill over there?

Everyone is worried about Iran becoming a nuclear power.  Of course, the government and media have been wringing their hands about this for over a decade now.  We passed a sanctions bill in 1996 that effectively punishes any ally or even corporation that elects to trade with Iran.  Although one might argue that we haven’t behaved aggressively towards them as yet, the fact of the matter is that sanctions are a prelude to war.  Sanctions generally also hurt members of the civilian population the most.

The Cato Institute has an interesting article out about the IAEA report whose contents nobody has read yet but everyone seems to feel they are in a position to judge.  It’s difficult to make assumptions when we have no clear idea of what that report might contain.  If Iran does, in fact, have nuclear weapons, there are many factors that bear consideration.

The first thing to consider is the effect that preemptive strike would have on Iran.  It is extremely difficult to predict what the total effect would be of such a strike against suspected nuclear weapon sites.  I think it is quite possible that it would go a long way towards validating the notion that the US is an aggressor state, the likes of which cannot be kept out without nuclear weapons.  And of course, if Israel elects to go in even without us, it would implicate the US to a certain degree, given the nature of our government’s relationship with Israel.

Another issue to consider is the democratic movement with Iran itself.  Threatening to launch strikes against the country is hardly sowing the seeds for future good relations.  I know that is a strange thing to consider, but it is possible that at some point, Iran will become a democracy.  According to Cato, about 75% of the country’s population is under 35 for whom, “the Islamic Revolution is a historical event, not a burning cause.”  Do you know what does cause people to be enflamed with causes, however?  Bombing their country.  In fact, studies done on suicide bombers and their motivations have proven that, more often than not, rage, retaliation, altruism, and humiliation play a far larger role in a person’s propensity to turn suicide bomber than does their choice of religions.  Religion tends to be the common ground that unites the groups together, rather than the reason for their committing the act in the first place.  To me, it seems rational to conclude that most Islamic terrorists are motivated out of a desire for revenge for being attacked in the first place.

We might also consider any and all costs involved in launching yet another attack on foreign soil.  The fact of the matter is that we, as a nation, are dead broke.  In fact, we’re worse than dead broke – we’re in the hole to the tune of several trillion dollars.  Can we really afford to be involved in yet another overseas commitment?  I know that this might be the point where some people will say, “But Obama is dialing down the Iraq occupation.”  That’s what he says, but the reality of the situation is somewhat different from the way it’s painted but the media.  The Embassy is built on a plot of land about the same size as the Vatican.  The place requires thousands upon thousands of people just to keep it up and running.  Are we really getting out?  From a monetary perspective, no.  Also, I think it’s foolish to think that all of those troops are coming home.  They’re likely going to be moved into Kuwait and other neighboring countries.  There’s an excellent blog post on it from Rabbi Brant Rosen.

Here’s another question: From a purely theoretical standpoint, why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear weapons?  If they feel there is a threat, real or imagined, of their country being invaded, do they not have the right, as a sovereign nation, to make the choice for themselves about whether or not they want to pursue a nuclear program?  What if Canada announced to us that, because we have a nuclear weapons program, they’re going to consider a preemptive strike because we might attack them first?  How would we react to that?  Would we feel it to be any of Canada’s business?

One last thing we might want to think about is how Israel’s course of action reflects back on us.  Because of the US government’s special relationship with Israel, should Israel choose to attack, we can fully expect that the US will share in whatever the ultimate result of those actions may be.  Frankly, at this point, if we were to attack without a concrete reason, we are going to look like implacable bullies.

My ultimate thought on Iran is that we need to tread very carefully.  Although it is tempting to get swept up in the media fear mongering, I urge readers to take a long, hard look at all of the issues before making any knee-jerk reactions.  We must examine all angles intelligently and thoughtfully before making up our minds one way or the other about what may or may not be going on with Iran.

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About The Lady Libertarian
I am American, currently expatriated but hopeful about getting back home one of these days. Besides reading and writing about politics, I enjoy camping, sailing, canoeing, making pie, and traveling. I hope you'll enjoy this blog and find it informative and accessible.

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