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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Iran

All this talk about war with Iran.  Have we learned nothing?

Even if we “win” our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan shows us that we aren’t likely to be good at nation-building and more likely just to mess stuff up.

Plus, we don’t seem to look at a nuclear Iran from the Iranian point of view. Look at a map. To the north, nuclear Russia. To the east, nuclear Pakistan, India, and China. To the west, nuclear Israel. In the gulf, vessels from a nuclear U.S.  And not lost on the Iranians is the fact that the North Korean regime would probably have been thrown out if they didn’t have nuclear weapons.

Could we live with a nuclear Iran? Paul Pillar suggests we can. It’s a long article and I won’t summarize it here, except for this:

Why would anyone, weighing all the costs and risks on each side of this issue, even consider starting a war with Iran? The short answer is that neocon habits die hard. It might seem that the recent experience of the Iraq War should have entirely discredited such proclivities, or at least dampened policymakers’ inclination to listen to those who have them. But the war in Iraq may have instead inured the American public to the extreme measure of an offensive war, at least when it involves weapons of mass destruction and loathsome Middle Eastern regimes.

The Iranian government has provided good reason for Americans to loathe it, from its harsh suppression of the Green Movement to the anti-Semitic rants and other outrageous statements of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately the belligerent rhetoric in Iran feeds belligerent rhetoric in the United States and vice versa, in a process that yields beliefs on each side that go beyond the reality on the other side. The demonization of Iran in American discourse has gone on for so long that even unsupported common wisdom is taken for granted.