On the Middle East

Sorry I’m returning a week later than planned (okay, okay. A week and a day later…) but I’ve been up to my knees in the stupidities of life lately and, as no-one will ever be paying me to write it, Nevermore has to be treated as a lower priority to, say, prising my deposit from the greedy hands of my former landlord. Anyway, I return with a political rant (I don’t think I’ve done one of these for a while…), this time about American foreign policy.

Yeah, it’s a bandwagon we’ve all jumped on at some point. Hell, some of us have ridden it a few miles, danced naked on it and even held the reigns while the driver nips off for a quickie. However, recent events have given us a classic illustrative example of why the current American administration are an arrogant bunch of hypocrites and why our own government is no better. I refer of course to the latest round of the Iranian nuclear power row. In a nutshell, Iran have always claimed that their nuclear program is for electrical production only but the US, its allies and the UN are concerned that the process Iran is using can be used to create nuclear weapons as a by-product. And this, according to France and a few murmurings in the US, is reason enough to consider the possibility of invasion at some point in the future.

What irks me is this: why is it okay for the whole Western world to have nuclear weapons but not for Iran? Admittedly, Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth in the past, but Israel doesn’t exactly do itself any favours in terms of international relations; that sort of rhetoric is to be expected from its neighbours. And I do believe it is just rhetoric: Iran is not the most fanatical proponent of sharia on the planet and I doubt its government is dumb enough to initiate a nuclear apocalypse. If Iran does have a nuclear weapons program, I don’t see why it shouldn’t have a nuclear deterrent like anybody else. Certainly I don’t see what right any other international body has to tell it that it can’t.

Mind you, this piece of news from last week really puts the situation in perspective. What right does America have to declare legal damages payable by another country to itself? This being the case, surely Afghanistan has a right to damages from America for letting the Taliban take charge in the first place. The Palestinian Arabs must also have a right to damages from America for their involvement in atrocities committed by Israel. And the UK must owe a few bob to Middle Eastern countries, too. As far as the West is concerned, Iran seems to be one of the Enemy, while we merrily sell weapons to a barbaric little backwater like Saudi Arabia.

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~ by Scary Rob on 18 September, 2007.

7 Responses to “On the Middle East”

  1. The issue with Iran is complex;
    -Firstly the country is too unstable, if there’s a coup or another civil war then a desperate losing faction could put the weapons to use.
    -Iran/US relations have been characterised by Iran ignoring the US until a show of force is made (eg.Air Flight 655). Since owning nukes will not make the Iranians more diplomatically inclined the only option will be larger and larger displays of force and posturing on both sides, bringing the world another step closer to ending in fire.
    -In the past Iranian expansionism has been checked by the threat of a UN response. The UN will not send an army against a nuclear power, which does not bode well for all the little ex-soviet Stan’s, especially with Russia gearing up again under Putin.
    -Iran definitely isn’t going to join the non-proliferation club. Would you feel safer knowing that North Korea and Syria had the Bomb? A credible nuclear stockpile would reduce NK’s dependence on China and free Kim Jong Il from Beijing’s moderating influence. Syria has attacked Israel knowing that they were facing a nuclear power, giving them nukes of their own is only going to make them bolder and if Israel trounces them again they may well use them.

    You can say what you want about the USA being a bully, it’ll all be true, but the way to deal with a bully isn’t to give everyone in the playground handguns.

  2. Shaolin_beaverhas some very valid arguments. I for one don’t think anyone should have nuclear weapons, however, I wouldn’t blame the US or UK holding on to theirs, no point in allowing a few rouge nations being the only people with nuclear weapons.

    Iran is just to unstable, imagine a Taliban like government coming to power, with a Nuclear bomb in their pocket. *shudders*

  3. Beaver – point taken, although my driving sentiment remains unchanged. Given the results of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, I would be pretty convinced that such an invasion of Iran would only destabilise the place to the point where a more agressive group can get hold of the weapons which I have no doubt the country already has…

  4. But the fact that the US and the UN can make a credible threat of such invasions is a key element in keeping Tehran in check. They almost certainly have the Bomb in some form, but they are almost certainly a very small number of decaying ex-soviet junk, certainly nothing substantial enough to warrant the radical shift in foreign policy that a successful nuclear program would entail.

    It’s dangerous ground to champion the rights of nation states, they are a contrivance and should not be set above the welfare of the world’s population. There are plenty of instances where the US and the UK as states have put national interest before global welfare, but anti-nuclear proliferation is not one of them. You can still count the number of countries in the nuclear club on two hands (10, though Pakistan hasn’t performed a convincing test yet and Israel always denies having them) it’ll be much better for the world if it stays that way.

    Climate change on the other hand, fucking hell…

  5. Going back to your first comment (now that I’m awake) I’d say that US nuclear power is as dangerous to the world as Iranian nuclear power. America is as much under the control of its religious fanatics as Iran is and the average American on the street (as I gather from someone who had a hypothetical ‘if we went to war..’ conversation with some Americans on a message board) would happily see the world burn before the fall of the USA. The US uses a discourse of ‘liberation’ to justify an expansionist policy and they are more guilty of international interference than any other country in the world. Essentially, what I’m trying to say in a self-imposed 500 word limit is that I don’t see what gives America the right to stop other nations behaving like it does itself.

    Secondly, going back to you playground bully and handgun analogy, in that situation amny Americans would say that everyone should have handguns. Unfortunately, after the Virginia massacre the American response was the idea that there should be more guns available, not fewer. The principle here is that if more people had handguns, they could have taken out the original gunman before he could kill more than a couple of people. According to its own cultural responses, America should be allowing mass nuclear proliferation so that we can all blow the place to smithereens before it can continue its policies of international bullying and interference.

    The bottom line for me is: no-one should have nuclear weapons and, in a world where they are a fact of politics, the USA has no right to be making decisions as to who can and can’t have them given that, when judged by any objective criteria, the US should be one of the countries under an order to disarm immediately.

  6. American Nuclear weapons are certainly not as great a danger to the world as Iranian ones would be. Any nuclear armed country is going to be willing to use them as a weapon of last resort, the likelyhood of the US ever being pressed that hard? Absolutely zero.

    America is not under the control of religious fanatics, it’s under the control of big business. Since the end of the cold war the defense industry has been pushing the US to make use of its armed forces so they can sell it missiles and stay in business. Yes they are militaristic, but I would rather have one militaristic nation keeping all the others down than have the world disolve into armed camps like it was in 1914.

    Compare the consequences of US expansionism to those of Chinese expansionism, who has it better off – South Korea or Tibet? Under American occupation comes the prospect of developement at the cost of political freedom which can be later won through peaceful means. Chinese occupation means troops in the streets, a one party state, investigations by secret police and the stamping out of indigenous culture with no prospect of politcal freedom. Would you prefer an Isolationist America? Remember the League of Nations?

    And the small number of vocal pro-gun Americans do not speak for the nation as a whole, an equal if not larger number of Americans called for stricter gun-control as a result of the incident.

    The bottom line is: Nuclear weapons are a reality, and America is the biggest fish in the pond – meaning it will act irregardless of some nebulous concept of National rights. They’ve had the Bomb for more than 60 years and have treated it responsibly. It’s not that the US has decided who can and can’t have the Bomb, the sane people of the world have decided that nuclear proliferation equals bad and it’s fallen to the US and the UN to enforce the decision.

  7. I wish I had that kind of optimism. I don’t see this as a national rights issue per se, more one of equality of man. I disagree fundamentaly with anyone having a stranglehold on international affairs, and America has demonstrated time and again that if any one nation should have that kind of power, the US is not it. Yeah, it’s a moral principle one step back from current political reality, but I’m a blogger not a politician. I’m allowed to be an idealist…

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