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My Thoughts

Chi mikhad beshe? – What is Going to Happen?

“A theocracy whose ideology is premised on sacrifice and martyrdom can only survive as long as its leaders can capitalize on the death of the Iranian people.”

Currencies

(Photo credit: Arabian Business)

The stiff economic sanctions currently strangling the Iranian economy are certainly causing change. But is it the kind of change we want? The rial is tanking and average Iranians are watching the value of their savings plummet, forgoing luxuries such as red meat and traveling less. This begs the question: if these sanctions won’t bring Iran’s leadership to give up their nuclear ambitions or bring them back to the bargaining table – which seems unlikely – then why is the West maintaining the sanctions? Is this immoral? The Iranian people will suffer the effects of malnutrition and the frustration of not being able to help themselves economically. Their government does not seem to fear a recrudescence of protests that followed the 2009 elections. One must not forget that many Iranians actually support Iran acquiring a nuclear capability.

Thus one must conclude the Iranian government is dead-set on acquiring weaponized uranium. According to the IAEA Iran may in fact be speeding up its nuclear production capability; even if they aren’t the situation still stands much the same. I do not think Iran will immediately build a few bombs and declare war on Israel. The Iranian administration is well aware of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Remember Iran seems rational when compared to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. It’s quite possible that Iran is more likely to attempt to blackmail it’s neighbors and other nations for political favorability and economic aid, but this is not guaranteed to work. Nonetheless this could weaken Israel’s position in the Middle East and perhaps force concessions it does not want to make. Israel does not want another nuclear power in the region.

Arab Spring

(Photo credit: Revolutionary Frontlines)

I think we have to consider exactly what an Israeli strike on Iran will do to the Arab Spring. We want these newly liberated countries to seek favorable relations with us. It may be the case that many of these new governments don’t want Iran to have a nuclear capability either. But it is probable that strikes on Iran will inflame anti-American sentiments amongst the newly liberated populations and force these new governments into an anti-Israeli anti-American stance. We must also realize that a strike will only strengthen the hold on power of Iran’s illegitimate government. It is also known that a strike on Iranian nuclear sites would almost certainly cause tens of thousands of civilian deaths. And further still it is unlikely that a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. It would delay them several years at best.

So what should the world do? We can’t be sure that Iran will immediately build a nuclear weapon as soon as they have the capability. Yet if they do build a bomb then the world will be forced to cow and act polite towards a messianic government with apocalyptic weaponry. The truth is that, barring an American invasion, Iran will likely have either have a nuclear weapon or the capability to build one within the next 1 to 3 years. A strike that kills thousands of Iranian civilians can only be justified as either buying time (for what?) or punishing the Iranian government (via its people) and prolonging their oppression under a ruthless theocracy. I think the world is going to have to learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

Arab Spring

(Photo credit: The Blue Brio Gallery)

How? Well Iran’s cash cow, oil, is failing them. They are undoubtedly cutting deals with China and other nations for cheap oil but the fact is the sanctions are hurting. Their closest ally Syria is on the ropes big time. The combination of cyber attacks on their nuclear facilities and targeted assassinations of Iranian scientists hurts. Iran is desperate to acquire weapons grade uranium to counter these setbacks. We should be actively working towards the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The fall of the authoritarian Syrian administration would leave Iran isolated in the region. We are better off containing a solitary nuclear Iran than we are attempting to contain an Iran which can use Syria to funnel weapons to Israel’s borders. And despite the Obama administration’s unwillingness to apply a policy of containment to Iran, unless America is going to invade Iran we will find ourselves containing them. A strike on Iran would constitute not only a humanitarian disaster and a major strategic blunder on behalf of the United States and Israel, but we would also be acting counter to our own interests in the Middle East.

“The assumption that the military option would force the Ayatollah to consider diplomacy rests on the false projection that Ayatollah’s government is motivated by the protection of the Iranian people’s life, property and sovereignty. Iran’s presidential elections should have put such an assumption to rest. Iran’s nuclear program allows the Ayatollah to keep Iran in a state of permanent political and economic crisis. He gets to blame the West for conspiring to deprive the Iranian people of the right to enrich uranium while stripping the Iranian people of fundamental rights. It is only natural that keeping the nuclear dispute alive, even if it is at the price of sanctions and war, serves his interests. A theocracy whose ideology is premised on sacrifice and martyrdom can only survive as long as its leaders can capitalize on the death of the Iranian people.”

– The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble

Further Reading:
The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble
Living With A Nuclear Iran
We Can Live With A Nuclear Iran
Can the World Live With a Near-Nuclear Iran? (Use India as a model)
Living With a Nuclear Neighbor (Iran-Israel viewed through the North/South Korea prism)
Nuclear weapons and Israel (Wikipedia)
What about Israel’s nuclear weapons?
The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons (The Counterproliferation Papers Series)

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