Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Shaking Another Hornet's Nest

The drums of war beat endlessly in Republican-controlled Washington these days, and the beat grows louder with every mention of Iran. There is a frightening symmetry to the foreign policy goals of the Bush administration with regard to Iran and those with regard to another nation in which 130,000 U.S. troops are still fighting and dying.

From the Ministry of Truth:

We do not want the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon, or the knowledge as to how to make a nuclear weapon. That's our stated goal.

A laudable goal, to be sure, but also one not terribly rooted in reality and also uncomfortably similar to the bogus rationale that took the United States into Iraq. Once again, we hear the "axis of evil" type of comic book rhetoric; it's the U.S. White Hats against the evil Iranian Black Hats in a battle of good versus evil. It's the same detached ideological garbage for which our soldiers are still footing the bill.

Now, I'm no expert on foreign policy, but I have to say that, frankly, I don't buy the threat from Iran. As I've pointed out in past posts, both the president of Iran and the ruling mullahs have disavowed the use of nuclear weapons, going so far, in the case of the theocrats, of issuing a fatwa against their use. Further, the fact of the matter is that enriched uranium is required BOTH for domestic energy production and nuclear weaponry. It's all in the degree of enrichment. While Iran did announce today that it has successfully enriched uranium, that does not, by default, mean they have a nuclear weapons program or are seeking one. It's just not as clear a case as either the White House or the conservative bedwetters would like the country to believe. The notion that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons program has become gospel in the MSM without any actual proof that a weapons program is indeed in the offing.

The statements out of the Iranian government do have to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. I, for one, never trust theocratic governments, be they Iranian or Republican. Certainly the belligerence of President Ahmadinejad, especially towards Israel, is a huge cause for concern and mistrust. And yet, the President of Iran has little real power, outside of his use as a mouthpiece for government PR. Beyond that, the Iranian theocratic government is one that does not enjoy much popular support, either at home or abroad. Thus, a certain amount of tough talk is expected, especially in light of U.S. actions in the region. After all, Saddam Hussein hadn't had a credible WMD program in at least a decade and it didn't save his regime from an ideologically-blinded Bush foreign policy.

The cruelest irony in the entire Iran situation may be the revelation earlier this week by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker that the Pentagon is laying the groundwork for a possible nuclear strike against Iran. Just to be clear: this is the Bush administration advocating for going to war against Iran, using the very same weapons for which the war would be started in the first place. It's the ultimate expression of American exceptionalism; the "Do as we say but not as we do" mentality that has characterized much of our foreign policy since WWII. If that's not enough hypocrisy, merely understand that the United States carries the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the planet AND has allowed two of its allies, Israel and soon India, carte blanche to maintain their own nuclear stockpiles. The Bush White House has an unbridgeable credibility gap on this issue.

I know it's a sentiment that's been expressed across the blogosphere this week, but I will add to the chorus: this news from Hersh is disastrous. The use of our nuclear weaponry on another nation, especially as a preventive strike, will fundamentally alter the world in which we live. The global war that the neo-conservatives and Bush supporters believe we're engaged in will become all too real. We'll essentially be telling the world that we are an outlaw state; that notions of morality and decency and community within the world are not respected in the United States. Outside of the Iraqi insurgency our invasion created, our enemies in the Muslim world are a radical fringe. No more, the day after we initiate nuclear war. The United States will become the most isolated nation in the world. Frighteningly, I suspect many in America would be just fine with that, especially the "build walls, not bridges" bigots that have come out on Fox News and other conservative media outfits lately. A U.S. nuclear strike could be the shooting of Franz Ferdinand all over again, igniting a worldwide catastrophe of unthinkable proportions.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Don't be too sure. Read Mahablog's reasons why Bush's policy towards Iran is such a potential disaster. It could leave us longing for the days when Iraq and Afghanistan were our biggest problems.

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