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Iran is going to turn Israel into a nuclear wasteland any day now. Not really, but that’s the impression one might get if they spend much time listening to politicians or the mainstream media. We are constantly being told to fear Iran due their apparent desire to attain nuclear weapons, and the concern that they might use them on Israel or the United States.
Threats against Iran are thrown about with impunity, with presidential candidates like Rick Santorum suggesting we bomb their nuclear facilities. Newt Gingrich even suggested covertly assassinating their nuclear scientists. One would think that such strong rhetoric is the result of a strong threat, but is Iran really such a threat? And if so, against whom?
Iran doesn’t pose a legitimate threat, and I’m not alone in thinking this. Tamir Pardo, the head of Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) recently implied that a nuclear Iran would pose no existential threat to Israel and former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, among many others, echoed the same sentiments.
Even if Iran had a nuke, it would be suicidal to use it considering that Israel and the U.S. together possess thousands of nuclear weapons and neither would have too many qualms about using them to defend their allies or themselves. Iran very well knows this.
You may ask why Iran would develop a nuclear weapon if they had no intent to use one. Well, there is little evidence that they actually are developing a weapon. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently admitted this, stating “Are they (Iran) trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.”
We didn’t have the same concern during the 1970’s when we supported the Shah’s nuclear program and created the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in order to allow development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Iran is still a member of this treaty, so they are completely justified in pursuing nuclear power, and we are in the wrong to create impediments to them doing so.
Even if it turns out that Iran really is creating nuclear weapons, they are justified in seeking to defend themselves. The United States has completely surrounded them with military bases from which we could launch invasions, drones strikes, or the types of covert operations that Newt Gingrich was talking about. And, there is evidence that we are already doing so. Iran recently discovered a downed U.S. spy drone in their country which was reportedly surveying their nuclear sites.
We would be fools to expect a country to sit back and take it as we transgress upon their national sovereignty and economic prosperity as we have. The U.S. would retaliate, so Iran doing the same should not surprise us. As a country, we should only do to Iran what we would want them to do to us. By being peaceful we increase the likelihood of a peaceful resolution to these hostilities.
So the next time you hear a politician or political pundit speak on the threat of Iran and advocating military intervention, take it with a grain of salt. The United States has faced much greater threats (the Cuban missile crisis comes to mind) and has gotten away unscathed by using diplomacy, rather than force. This is the approach that I believe will yield the most peaceful results with Iran, and is the approach that is seldom advocated by our leaders.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mark Lamb at Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org.