As we sit back and watch the 2008 election unfold, Obama reminds us of what the current administration has done win Iraq; whether or not you or I choose to agree with his plan for removing US forces, one thing should be clear from it's example: we have absolutely no business in Iran, unless that business is discourse. It is a shame to think that there are even any Americans who can look at the Middle East and say, "Well, judging by the Iraq, Iran should go along smoothly." Disregard your position on what our military and administration should do in Iraq, that mistake is already far behind us. What we are facing now is further error on the part of our commander in chief and his advisers, and error caused by over-exaggerated threat and a public ear full of misinformation. Ray McGovern's report on Consortiumnews.com points directly both the president's and our own misguided step, quoting committee chair Jay Rockefeller:
"In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."
No matter your opinion on what we should do to fix our blunders in Iraq, we must take a very calm, intent look at the delicate precipice at which we now stand. It is foolhardy to use military force on Iran. For one, we have not even made an attempt to talk with Tehran. Heathens, we assume. Terrorists, we assume. And who can blame us-- we're fed a distorted media image along with press conferences from a president who depends far more on his advisers than any other source. I would like to think that the president makes sure to double-check certain bits of information-- when they involve starting another war-- and that he might also be wary of the administration that started the debacle in Iraq. And I know the public opinion is dominated by high-school graduates and relatively uninformed individuals, but I know I read brilliant commentary on foreign affairs every day-- why aren't those voices being carried to the president's desk? Is this administration really looking to go deeper into our national pocketbook, and father from ranks of satisfactory eras in American history, all within the next 7 months?
Why have we not arranged sit-downs with Iranian leaders? Our president and his preemptive VP are so sure that they are building bombs, so sure that it will be much wiser to simply start dropping our own. There's nothing quite as cocky as fighting bomb-building with bombs: a sort of shoving-in-the-face move we'd expect from anyone less noble than us. Not us, the United States, great facilitator of democracy (the our-way-or-the-highway kind).
McGovern reminds us that, "all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last November that Iran had stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and had not resumed it as of last year." A tidbit our administration likes to overlook, in favor of the Massive Threat Iran poses for peace. (Peace, ha, yeah right.)
And bombs are immanent, with the last stretch of this administration. Talks in early June with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brought Bush farther along the path towards a new war, this time attacking the "Iranian Threat." See, you say! There is political support abroad-- and from the region, no less! Oh yes, you mean from Israel, to whom we are nothing less than a life support? Israel who is also barraged with bombs by its own wars, using American backing and American military tanks and ammo to supply its own feuds. That is hardly international support. Who dare disagree with the hand that feeds?
On top of everything, Bush's administration is falling into the awful trap of impulse action, nearing the end of its reign. Involving the US in another war in the Middle East at a time when we are so near a change of approach is insurmountable. Looking at the last few decades, one can at least glean that we cannot possibly end things as simply as the Persian Gulf War. There was no way to undo the mistakes we made in Afghanistan, when we fought the Russians and started the roots of Al-Qaeda. There is no way to easily solve Iraq now.
But there is a way to prevent errors with Iran. We need to talk to them.
A good relationship with Iran could be our key to achieving stability in Baghdad; it could mean Persian Gulf oil under far safer terms; it could push towards agreement between Israel and Palestine; it could lead to improvements in cooperative talks and democracy potential in Syria and Lebanon, respectively. And one thing it will definitely do is ensure that we avoid another Iraq: a war with no factual, reasonable trigger.
Iran is a country that wants a regional role, and it will what is needed to achieve this. Dmitri Trenin, in Foreign Policy (Jan/Feb 08), likens it to Nixon's embarkment upon a relationship with hostile socialist China. A "quasi-alliance" it might become, but that has a much better chance at facing the dilemmas of a plagued region than continued warfare ever will. There will already be enough of that contained within the region, you realists retort-- so why not keep it at that? At least self-contained, nothing more. Iran is not a new country; it is used to political shifts, and those shifts, when they come, will be internal. Whatever it does, we should be ready to meet them, and meet them now, with communication. Says Trenin:
"What is certain is that the only thing that stands between Iran and the nuclear future it threatens is dialogue with the United States, the sole audience it truly craves. The terms will be tough: the lifting of sanctions, security guarantees, the right to a peaceful nuclear program. Mutual agreement on those alone will be difficult, but they will be the only incentives powerful enough to convince Iran to forgo the pursuit of weapons."
Isn't that a goal worth aiming towards? Bombs will surely lead only to more bombs, and haven't we exhausted the idea that pulverizing a nation still doesn't make them give in to our western ideals? Let's speak with our ideas, compromise and theorize, and point ourselves instead towards resolution.