Monday, August 28, 2006

That Is The Sound of Inevitability

It will probably be some light posting for me this week, due to some excessive "real world" activity that is demanding my attention. That sound pompous and self-important enough to maintain proper blogger gravitas? I'd hate to be considered unserious...

Anyway, in spite of the financial analysis boulder my inner accounting Sisyphus must roll, I thought I'd drop a quick thought on Iran. You know, Iran? The next war for which conservative "warhawks" are frothing at the mouth? Clearly both the United States and Israel, with Afghanistan, Iraq and Hezbollah under our collective belts, have demonstrated just what a spectacular success launching invasions can be as a tool for geopolitical change. Anymore of this kind of "success" and we might as well just elect an Islamist president and save everyone the suspense. Clearly a new direction is desperately needed to deal with the biggest challenge in the region: Iran.

I hear plenty of talk on NPR and read plenty of analysis in the news about how to address the issue of Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Naturally, I believe that opening up talks between Washington and Tehran is the best answer at this point. For all the bluster the neoconservatives and their fans have been espousing about a "military option" for Iran, the reality is that it's beyond our capability. Iran is many magnitudes a greater power than Iraq was when we overthrew Saddam Hussein, and that's been an unmitigated disaster. Short of a tactical nuclear strike against Iran, which would be the heavyweight champion example of tragic irony, no real military option exists for stopping Iran's uranium enrichment program. As I've discussed before, the technology for doing so is increasingly easy to come by; not to mention that the process for making nuclear power plant fuel and making fissile uranium is essentially the same. Economic sanctions are a paltry threat as well, considering Iran's vast oil supplies in the face of ever increasing world demand. Diplomacy is the only option available.

Only, here's the rub: I don't believe it will work. I've suspected for some time and now I'm fully committed to the belief: Iran will have a nuclear weapon, assuming it actually wants one, and there's not a damn thing the world can do about it. It's too late. The time when the U.S. could have acted as a moderating force in Iran's ambitions passed as soon as Bush vs. Gore was settled, if not years sooner. From the beginning, Bush and his neoconservative foreign policy team were committed to their "Axis of Evil" rhetoric.

These "serious" foreign policy minds have helped set a dangerous table, one which we'll be dining at for many years to come. Perhaps if the U.S. had lived up to its agreements under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is legally binding under our Constitution, and worked to eliminate its nuclear stockpile. Perhaps if the Bush administration had taken a more nuanced approach to Israel's actions in the region and acted as a moderating force instead of a hyperactive boxing promoter pushing its favorite prize-fighter. As much as I think it can be terribly misguided, perhaps a little Kissinger-esque realism could have helped put Iran on a different course. So many forks in the road that could have led to a different set of circumstances today yet, like Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons now, the neoconservative drive to create a destabilized Middle East was probably inevitable after 2000. The road to shaky empire was set, even if many of us didn't know where that road was leading.

While again I believe that we ought to engage with Iran diplomatically as much as possible, I also believe we need to prepare for the reality of a nuclear armed Iran. Like any rational person, the thought that a cabal of religious extremists like the Iranian mullahs will likely have access to the most terrible weapon ever conceived by man is extremely unsettling. Unfortunately, I believe it's inevitable at this point. In the battle to prevent a nuclear Iran, the U.S. and our allies have lost. In the greater war to prevent the devastating "clash of civilizations" for which so many conservatives are desperately praying, the tide away from world war could still turn in our favor. Perhaps November could start that turn...

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