There are basically two American viewpoints on Iran. 1.) Iran is full of religiously radical and irrational Muslims that are determined to destroy America and Americans at any and all costs. 2.) Iran has been radicalized by decades of US intervention in the middle-east and wants a Nuclear weapon so the United States and their allies have reason to respect and fear them. Both of these ideas have an element of truth to them, but which is the reality?
If you ask a far right conservative they will undoubtedly tell you Iran is irrational – if you ask a leftist you will get the exact opposite answer. I think like so many things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
To understand Iran and Iranians I think it’s important to understand our history with them. That could take a while since our history in the middle-east spans decades. In general, it hasn’t been peaceful. Here are a few quick reads.
1. CIA intervention for decades
2. History of US and Iran since 1950
3. Brief Summary of US/Iranian History
It becomes quickly apparent that this isn’t just a “Good vs. Evil” scenario. I know that it is unpopular to admit that the US has anything to do with the discourse in the middle-east and that anyone who does so is immediately labeled un-American or anti-American, but here I go. I’ll admit it for all American’s – we had our own part to play in the radicalization and anti-American sentiments of Iran.
It’s easy to say that Iran “hates” America because it is wealthy and full of Christians, but is that really the case? I have to ask myself, if that’s true, why doesn’t Iran have this same attitude toward Australia, Canada, or every other predominately Christian-filled wealthy nation? I think the answer to that question, an honest answer, lies in our constant and sometimes violent involvement in the politics around the middle-east.
Is Iran Rational?
One of the most popular arguments to pro-war advocates is that “Iran has threatened to wipe America off the face of the Earth and when someone makes a threat, I’m inclined to believe it.” Or they say, “Iran is full of suicidal irrational terrorist.” Again, a grain of truth, but not the whole story.
To generalize about Iran, I agree that many of Iran’s ideologies are immoral and irrational. (i.e., radical Islam) However, there is no doubt in my mind that Iran knows without a doubt that launching a nuclear weapon toward the United States is unthinkable. It’s suicide.
While Iran, Ahmajenidad specifically, may be morally irrational – his lust for power and life is no doubt rational. That rationality will undoubtedly prevent him from pressing the button on the United States. He has no desire to see the country he rules over to be obliterated by the stockpile of WMD’s the US has.
Furthermore, Ahmajenidad knows the obvious. The US doesn’t mess with countries in the middle-east with Nuclear weapons. (i.e., Pakistan) It seems perfectly rational and even logical that they too would want something the US perceives as a real threat. Do I want Iran to get a Nuclear Weapon? No, I don’t want anyone to have a weapon that can destroy the entire earth. That doesn’t mean that war is necessary to prevent that.
What should we do about Iran?
The best thing we can do about Iran is the same thing we should do with all countries. Maintain intelligence, strong and positive foreign relations, and a powerful national defense. All those things I support and are more effective in the long run than initiating a pre-emptive war on any country.
I think it’s important to remember, what we call a “pre-emptive war” our enemies call an unprovoked “attack”. What more fuel does a population of any people need to radicalize and unite themselves against an intruder than the idea that another country is imposing their will on you? Pre-emptive war can only lead to one place – further war and hatred toward the United States. Pre-emptive war is the worst thing in the world we could do for our national security. That path is killing our children and grandchildren. That path is immoral and illogical. That path is a guarantee for more conflict.
Unless you are the biggest weapons producer and distributor on earth why would you want that? (The US is the biggest weapons producer and distributor on earth. Conflict of interest?) The United States is a great country and has the chance to be a pillar of morality and justice for the world – A country to be modeled and copied. We need to be that country.