November 12, 2013 - 6:00pm
The best way to keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb is for the Obama administration and its nuclear client Israelto stop threatening the Islamic Republic.
Look at recent history. In 2003, Iraqs government had no nuclear weapons (or other WMD). The U.S. government invaded, and before long Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was hanging from a rope. In 2011, Libyas government had no nuclear weapons. The U.S. government led NATO on a bombing campaign to help a group of rebels, and before long Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi lay dead on a roadside. Today Syria has no nuclear weapons. The U.S. government and NATO are currently aiding rebels seeking to overthrow (and likely kill) President Bashar al-Assad.
On the other hand, North Korea has nuclear weapons, and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un appears safe from any regime change sponsored by the U.S. government and NATO.
Lesson for foreign leaders who are in the doghouse with the U.S. government: Get a nuke.
Therefore it follows thatnotthreatening a foreign regime is a good way to keep it from following the yellowcake road. And it sure beats threatening war, which all too easily can become actual war.
Iran is not building a bomb. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies have said so repeatedly. The Islamic Republic, unlike Israel, is a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is thus subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, the Islamic regime long ago issued a fatwa, invoked many times since, condemning WMD as immoral.
Furthermore, a nuke would be useless as an offensive weapon for Iran. (Iran has not attacked another nation in hundreds of years, but it was attacked by U.S.-backed Iraq in 1980.) Israel has an arsenal of at least 200 nuclear warheads, some mounted on submarines for a second-strike capability. The U.S. government has thousands. Say what you want about the Iranian leadership, but it is not suicidal.
Thus, the only value for Iran in having a nuclear weapon would be indeterringan attack. Stop threatening an attack, and that value vanishes.
Why, then, do President Obama and Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refuse to take war against the Iranian people off the table? The Israeli government wants to prevent any change that would limit its freedom of action in the region -- which has included repeated mass violence against the Palestinians and the Lebanese -- and the U.S. government, largely for domestic political reasons, backs Israel to the hilt. President Obama and Vice President Biden are only the latest American politicians to declare that no daylight exists between the United States and Israel -- despite the absurdity of that claim.
In fact, the American people and the Israeli government have entirely different interests with respect to Iran. Americans have no interest whatever in war with Iran. Countless noncombatants, not to mention U.S. military personnel, would be killed or maimed, and economic well-being would be shaken by the disruption of oil production and trade. This wouldnt be good for the people of Israel either, although their hawkish ruling elite and its boosters in America, including in Congress, apparently think otherwise.
Its more and more obvious that this issue isnt really about nuclear weapons at all. Irans new president, Hassan Rouhani, is trying to reassure the West andIsrael about its civilian nuclear program. (This is not the first time.) His foreign minister is meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) in order to strike an agreement that would include lifting the economic sanctions -- a form of warfare under international law -- which deprive innocent Iranians of food and medicine. Progress in the talks has been reported, butFrance, withIsraeli backing,has reportedly thrown up roadblocks,among other reasons, due to a conflict of interest -- namely, its lucrative military ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia (the U.S.-allied Sunni kingdom that is a rival of Shiite Iran).
Despite progress in the talks, Netanyahu and his biggest supporters in Congress want even more sanctions, as they talk down the potential for a peaceful settlement. One gets the feeling that they will never take yes for an answer; they want war and regime change, no matter what the Iranian government does.
The warmongers must be thwarted. Peace is the priority.
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).