We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. Abraham Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural address, 1861
Though Lincoln’s words in his first inaugural were aimed at his countrymen, they reach out to our global society today which finds many of us pitted one against the other for ideas that often reflect narrow and bitter choices rather than our connectedness in terms of economic needs and a greater shared humanity. Sadly his appeal to avoid the conflict that would tear us part went unheeded by a dark nature in all mankind that creates a “we” against “them” straw man; a “good versus evil” dichotomy that sees only one side to an issue because there is a false assertion that only one side is right.
Avoiding War With Iran
When you live under the constant threat of being attacked your defensive senses are on a hair trigger and your responses can result in overkill. When your neighbors are your sworn enemies there is the feeling that any action on their part that is not seen as friendly or even neutral becomes a motivation to strike first before they hurt you. Paranoia constantly engulfs you and because it does you convince yourself that extreme preemptive actions are warranted. To gain support for these actions you convince your family and your allies that the threat others pose to you are the actions of a nebulous evil and must be met with a “terrible swift sword” often invoking the will of God himself as justification for your actions.
This conceptualization of “reality” exists not only in the minds of many people around the world but in the collective consciousness of many nation-states as well. None though perhaps to the extent it does with two mideast adversaries – Israel and Iran. Because of this prevailing sense of doom with both nations we are on the precipice of engaging in yet another foreign war that will consume our young men and women, our treasure and will essentially not, as past wars in these areas have shown, resolve the underlying sickness that perpetuates the threat. How do you eradicate a disease that lies dormant in areas that can never be fully seen.
As allies of Israel we are obligated to help that country defend itself from external threats. We would have little problem flexing our muscle as the world’s preeminent military power with an arsenal unmatched by any other nation. Israel, like the U.S. has nuclear capabilities though publicly we pretend Israel doesn’t. Limiting nuclear weapons expansion has been a universal goal officially since the early 1960’s. Following China’s unwanted inclusion into this limited club in 1964 with the U.S., Russia, France and Great Britain, the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) negotiated an agreement that was endorsed by the U.N.General Assembly and Resolution 2373, better known as the Non-proliferation Treaty, went into force in March of 1970.
All nations seeking to acquire fissile material and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information to create nuclear weapons are kept in check by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but this has not stopped some rogue nations from building their own nuclear weapons. Four such nations, including Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and India are not “legitimate” bearers of nuclear weapons capabilities since they remain outside the parameters of the UN’s resolution on non-proliferation.
Thus, considering the mental state of the nation in Iran one can understand why they too would like to be a member of this small fraternity. For right or wrong Iran has made Israel an opposing force that needs to be neutralized. Yet the war of words used by some within these two countries and their supporters in the U.S. have depicted each as an evil that needs to be destroyed before they have a chance to destroy each other.
Cooler, more rational views on Iran’s threat to Israel have been marginalized by the hawkish forces in Israel and the U.S., beating the war drums as they have done before with Vietnam and Iraq that pulled us into destructive slaughters of innocent civilians and military personal with great loss of national financial resources to the detriment of taxpayers.
Israel’s own former head of their equivalent to our CIA has denounced the proposition held by the hawks that they or the U.S. should destroy Iran’s fledgling nuclear capabilities as a preemptive measure to prevent a suspected threat.
The most strenuous objection to an Iranian attack by Israel comes from recently retired Mossad head Meir Dagan, who called attacking Iran “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” His predecessor, Ephraim Halevy, seconded his assessment. Dagan’s successor, Tamir Pardo, and former Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff Dan Halutz both declared that Iran is “not an existential threat” to Israel SOURCE
The Obama administration and all of the GOP presidential candidates, save Ron Paul, have publicly acknowledged that war with Iran is a realistic option to prevent them from creating a nuclear threat; a threat that is less realistic than some would have the American public believe. Santorum is the most aggressive of the lot.
Pressed by NBC’s Meet The Press host David Gregory, Santorum distorted President Obama’s record on Iran and vowed that if Iran did not cooperate with his requests, he would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities with airstrikes. Gregory said, “The reality is there is no good option to disarm Iran.” Santorum replied, “Yes, there is,” and expanded on what he would do – order air strikes if he felt that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. SOURCE
The fearful assumption that Iran is not only developing nuclear weapons capabilities but would use them quickly against Israel and those who support Israel is a ploy that many use who raise the specter that our “national security” is threatened. This fear-mongering has allowed taxpayers to build vast weapons systems that will cost us about $700 billion over the next ten years which “is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.” Our GDP spending on defense is higher than both China’s and Russia’s.
For the U.S. or Israel to act on the notion that Iran does not comprehend the consequences of a policy along the lines of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is naive and self-serving. Self-serving for a people who react in dangerous, knee-jerk style to perceived threats without fully weighing the inevitable awful consequences that have a domino effect from such spurious decisions.
There is no good war. There is only the devastation and loss in human life that can never really be replaced. Even WW II that is seen by many as a virtuous war that stopped the militarism and despotic ways of Nazis, Fascists and Imperialists led to another greater threat Eisenhower referred to as the military-industrial complex. A war machine that consumes 20 cents of every tax payers dollars to give us an illusion of security but which a single individual could remove with one, strategically placed dirty bomb. Our menacing hulk and presence around the world has created a new global threat that conventional tactics cannot effectively deal with.
In a 2007 report from the Department of Defense it has been acknowledged that the “character of war is changing—it is irregular, catastrophic, disruptive and no longer confined to the traditional battlefield.”
History has shown that it is possible to influence the decision to acquire nuclear weapons. Thus emphasis should be placed on developing tailored approaches to proliferation prevention to shape the nuclear environment. SOURCE
Nobody wants war less than those who have to fight it. Sadly however nobody makes fewer sacrifices when war is enacted than those politicians and pundits who rattle their sabers and leap to this act of last resort intended to defend not only the security of our nation but that of our allies. The public is often disengaged from this course of action because they do not feel it’s immediate impact and too many are easily convinced that such acts truly safeguard our personal security.
There is a bill sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA], H.R. 4173: Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act, that directs “the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.” I encourage all who read this post to fire a letter or e-mail off to their congressional representative to support this act. Lincoln’s “angels of our better nature” allegory requires at least this modicum of effort from each of us.