Here’s a tough question: What are we going to do about Iran? Iran’s status as a serious threat should be not up for debate any longer. The fact of the matter is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is unstable and dangerously close to procuring nuclear weapons.
We’ve reached a point where it’s just a matter of time before Tehran definitively possesses the bomb. Political leaders across the spectrum have affirmed this fact. When President Obama met with British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this week, they both expressed their determination to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
You may ask, what exactly is so threatening about Iran’s nuclear program? Iranian representatives claim their nuclear enrichment program, despite reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is designated solely for energy purposes.
Furthermore, other countries near and far from Iran already maintain vast nuclear arsenals, Israel and the U.S. included. It seems unjust that an Islamic country be barred the same right — which begs the interesting question, are nuclear weapons a right?
A fair analysis plainly reveals that Iran’s history of concealment about its nuclear enrichment program, along with its leaders’ inflammatory rhetoric, spells trouble. Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has explicitly stated the expressed goal of wiping a nearby country, Israel, off the map.
Conservative and liberal analysts agree that a nuclear Iran could very well mean devastation, not just in the region, but beyond.
What should America do about this urgent danger? Why is America responsible for dealing with Iran? More broadly, in the alleged postcolonial age, why is American activity and interference abroad considered normal, or even expected?
One could argue that it would be wrong for America to sit idly by as an internationally recognized violator of human rights inches closer to possessing a nuclear bomb. If America doesn’t step up, who will?
Many seem to take up this reasoning. The candidates for the Republican ticket (read: warmongers) have pledged that they would approve a military invasion, if the necessary time came. But that doesn’t seem to be a sensible answer. The military and political mess which continues to devastate Afghanistan serves as a prime example of how our meddling abroad often makes matters worse, for us and the countries we invade.
American troops on the ground is not the answer.
At the opposite extreme, an isolationist may say, let the Iranians sort this out. The issue there is that the Arab Spring was a fad that failed to reach Iran. Even if there was a social revolution, it largely couldn’t topple the government as it did in Egypt. More so, the revolutions we’ve witnessed across the Middle East are re-shufflings of power, not sustainable solutions.
Exactly why we need diplomacy, cries the naïve, supposedly balanced, liberal. I wish that through dialogue we could alter Iranian politics. But I think we would be communicating on two different wavelengths. The notion of diplomacy holds little water in a region where demonstrations of brute strength speak louder than words.
Unfortunately, Obama’s rhetoric and the United Nations’ condemnations have done little to curb Iran’s deliberate obfuscation of its nuclear program or decelerate their progress.
What about economic sanctions? That’s right, we’ll have the whole world — or at least the countries frightened by us enough to adhere — stop trading with Iran. Then Iran will realize that we’re really serious about them chilling with the nuclear weapons. Then they definitely won’t be more aggravated. So they’ll probably just disband their nuclear program.
The logic here speaks for itself. It’s long past due that America wakes up to the reality that economic sanctions cannot alter deeply entrenched ideological hatred.
So where does that leave us?