by user Michael Smith
War with Iran? The Bush administration has cautiously distanced itself from speculation, but the circumstantial evidence seems to indicate that Iran is a strong contingency. To punish their inflammatory rhetoric about Israel? For pursuing nuclear power like India has? For aiding and abetting their Shi’a brethren in Iraq? Are we kidding? Continued focus on diplomacy should be our wholehearted goal.
First let’s distinguish that Iran and Iraq are two different countries distinguishable by more than one consonant in their name. Iraqis are 77% Arab, Iranians are 51% Persian and only 3% Arab. They may share a common religion, Iraq is 60-65% Shi’a, Iran 89% Shi’a, but Iran is roughly twice as populous as Iraq. (source; the CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/)
So they have a theocratic president who denies the holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Isn’t that standard Jihadist fare in the region? Are we going to war with every theocracy that uses ancient religious claims to territories, then wishes to cleanse all but their own from their sacred soil?
They are pursuing “civilian” nuclear power. OK, cause for concern but how have we treated the issue elsewhere? Despite not signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaties, we are entering a partnership with India. We’ve been trying to use isolation and pariah status against North Korea, but in the end we’re engaging them with trade incentives. Let’s apply a bit of what we’ve learned to the Iran situation.
We accuse Iran of underwriting unrest in the Middle East and aiding the Iraq insurgency, yet we’ve had tangible evidence of endless overt troublemaking by Syria for years and years and we don’t seem willing to confront them forcefully. Let’s at least be consistent and apply measures that are commensurate with the violations of acceptable conduct.
We’ve faced fundamental ideological opponents before, and we can learn from what worked – and what didn’t. Isolation and embargo don’t work; engagement does. We’ve never accomplished much in roughly 50 years of isolation in Cuba. We’ve made the Cubans suffer, but only entrenched the political situation.
But look to successes like China and Russia. What worked was a combination of engagement and pressure. Détente enabled an opening of economic relationships and a realization in oppressive regimes that trade was in their interest. Trade and more open communication lead to productivity. Iran has government debt of roughly 25% of their GDP - that’s leverage. My quick browse of the internet doesn’t show who holds that debt, but Iran has incentives to increase productivity and work with the economies of world – not against them.
I find any talk of war against Iran to be shamefully alarmist and impractical. Our interests are not served by the discussion, and our military is not up to the challenge. Let’s work to find moderate elements and build a détente with Iran – not because we’re not ready to defeat them militarily, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Michael Smith, Republican Candidate for President