This post is a request directly from my father, who accepted my suggestion that I explain my views on Iran’s nuclear program after a discussion during dinner several nights ago. My view on the topic is one that is hard to get across, and I often receive flak for my position from multiple sides of the political spectrum for it. However, I do believe that I can provide solid reasoning for what I think, and with this post I intend to do so. I only ask that you keep an open mind on this touchy issue, and that you don’t fire ignorant hate my way in the comments unless you’ve read the post and have a reasonable argument. Thanks in advance.
Like I stated in the intro, my opinion on Iran’s nuclear program is one that flies in the face of American interests and often contradicts the opinions of my fellow leftists. Personally, I would really like it if Iran never attained a nuclear weapon. I believe that nukes are wrong, and that any nation which uses nuclear weapons as deterrent is rightfully abhorred. I’m especially critical of the Russian and American stockpiles which have been left over since the Cold War. We’re only human, and we should never possess that kind of power. We are not ready for it, neither individually or collectively. I’m skeptical of what Iran would do with a nuclear weapon. While I seriously doubt its usage as a full scale weapon of war, I do believe it likely that Iran would swing around more weight with a nuke in its possession. I question why an Islamic “Republic” would even obtain a weapon which its national religion normally would reject. And yet, I do not think they should not be able to obtain one.
Let me explain this from a more neutral standpoint. The wide majority of my readers are from America; the rest of my readers are also, for the most part, from first world countries. Just like most first world countries, the majority of my readers reside in nations which possess nuclear weapons. Some, like India, have relatively few. Others, like Russia, have more nukes than some countries do people. Either way, my point is that we have gotten used to having nuclear weapons. Normally, this is not a big part of our politics. Nobody questions whether free nations like Germany and the United States should have nuclear weapons. Pretty much everyone accepts that we have them, and that we always will. The problem with this state of mind is that not every nation has nukes. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to imagine being in the position of a country which doesn’t have nukes. But I’d like you to try for a moment, if you can. You live in a country without nukes, yet has always been an important part of regional politics. For parts of your recent history, your nation has been destabilized and threatened. As such, your current rulers have refused to completely stop development of nuclear weapons. And while you feel like nukes may help your nation obtain some stability and weight in multinational decisions, many countries which already have nukes are denouncing you for even trying. One of these countries has even used nukes in the past, and yet still says that you don’t have the right to possess even one nuke. Does that sound just or fair in any notion? It’s obvious by now that I’m trying to put us all in the position of an Iranian citizen. And hopefully, my point is clear. The sheer amount of arrogance that the United States and other western nations have expressed to counter the Iranian nuclear program is appalling. Most countries critical of Iran have plentiful nukes, but have never used them. The U.S.A. is in a unique position, being the only nation to have ever actually used nuclear weapons during conflict. And yet we are the most adamant in our condemnation of Iran. We have actually killed people using nuclear weapons, yet we are the ones saying Iran can’t even make one.
Many would argue that Iran should not be allowed to get a nuke due to their hostile tendencies of rhetoric which display hatred towards the west and Israel. It’s true that I deplore the amount of antagonism Iran shows toward Israel. However, when we look at history, Iran under Islamic leadership has rarely engaged in actual war. Other than the Iran-Iraq War (in which Iraq under Saddam Hussein instigated a conflict), Iran has not instigated acts of true war against other nations. While Iran certainly has participated in terrorist actions in certain nations, it has never sent direct troops to further its own interests. It has sent weapons, this I don’t deny; this is happening right now, as Assad uses Iranian weapons to mow down Syrian rebels. I don’t support this, and I really do hate Iran for making money off of human suffering. And yet, words mean little in practice concerning Iran’s foreign policy. We must remember that the Iranian president is not the one with true power in Iran, as that title belongs to the supreme leader, commonly referred to as the Ayatollah. The Ayatollah is commander-in-chief, has direct control over intelligence services, can declare war or peace, and has far more powers that are not immediately enumerated in the Iranian constitution (http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/supreme-leader). He also has influence over every branch of government, and by this point it is clear that he essentially chooses the president. What I’m trying to say is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is simply a figurehead; the Ayatollah has true power, so basing our policy towards Iran on the remarks of their president is like Iran basing its policy towards us based on what Joe Biden says. Back on to the subject of the Ayatollah, the current supreme leader named Ali Khamenei. He’s been in power since Khomeini died in 1989, and has been effective at keeping himself in his position. He is an insecure leader due to his lesser religious credentials which Khomeini possessed, meaning he likes to show off in order to appear strong. This is why I believe he supported Ahmadinejad when he “won” the 2009 election. Ahmadinejad makes flashy speeches and draws world attention to himself, allowing Khamenei to work the government in relative silence. We must learn to base our policy towards Iran on the Ayatollah, not the president.
And now, on to the threat Iran poses to Israel. Officially, Iran is an enemy of Israel but not Judaism, as strongly stated by both Khomeini and Khamenei. Judaism is an officially recognized and protected minority in Iran, with a seat in the Majlis reserved for Jews (albeit with restricted powers). Yet, Jews in Iran are easily discriminated against, and the Iranian government rarely does anything to protect the Jewish minority. Iran has been known to support Hezbollah, the terrorist faction in Lebanon responsible for much of the death that occurred in the 2006 Lebanon War. Given this background, it is reasonable to suggest that Iran may be willing to attack Israel. Whether Iran would be willing to use nukes is the question here. I consider the use of conventional military force to be completely within Iranian limits and precedent; should tensions between Iran and Israel increase, I do not doubt that Iran would be willing to begin conventional warfare. Israel presents huge problems for Iranian hegemony in the region; if Israel were to lose in a war, Iran would be significantly buffered. Iran is no stranger to loss of life in war; Khomeini frequently used human waves to make progress on the Iraqi front in the 1980s. Therefore, even though war with Israel could lead to international intervention, I do believe Iran would go for it if the situation called for it. However, nuclear weapons are a different realm entirely. Khamenei knows the power of nuclear weapons; the ability to kill all of humanity rests inside our stockpiles alone. Should Iran get a nuclear weapon, I seriously doubt Khamenei would be willing to use it in war, preemptive or otherwise. A single retaliatory nuclear strike, from Israel or us, would lead to a devastating conflict which Iran’s fragile system cannot withstand. The Japanese can understand just how strong nuclear weapons are; they leave marks which last decades. Should nukes be launched against Iran, the Islamic Republic would not survive. The sheer loss of life and ensuing humanitarian crisis would be too much for such a strict regime. I can see two possible outcomes if this were to happen. The first, and less likely, outcome would be for the Ayatollah to abdicate and allow for a true republic to rise. The second outcome would be a spontaneous and huge turnout of protests that would effectively collapse the Iranian government, just like the Islamic Revolution all those years ago. Either situation is unfavorable to the status quo Iran holds now, and therefore I believe strongly that Khamenei would not allow Iran to use a nuke, even though he would be more than willing to produce one. The risks outweigh the benefits for him and his power structure, which I bet he would cling on to with his dying breaths. And so, to any Israeli readers, I beg of you: do not fear Iran. We are equals, at the very least. Israel is a strong nation, and has been fully capable of its defense for years. Iran is powerful, yes, but Israel does not need to worry about an Iranian nuclear weapon. It is a moot point, at least for now.
And that is all for this week. I hope I’ve cleared up my position, and that all of you understand it. I realize this is a controversial opinion, even among my fellow communists, so once again I urge you educate yourself before shouting angrily at me for this. If you’d like to pose a comment, question, criticism, or other form of feedback, I encourage you to do so in the comments section here. If you would prefer other methods of communication, my email at firstname.lastname@example.org is still open, along with my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts, so feel free to contact me if need be. And so, this is KnoFear, signing off.