I want to predicate my article by saying that nothing is more offensive to me than an offensive war, and that no one should have the means, through nuclear, or other weapons, to erase human civilization from this world. Also, I'm not writing this article to support the regime in Iran no one wants to see a free Iran more than I.
IF I SUBMIT TO AN IRRATIONAL STATE OF TERROR, CAN I EVER BE SECURE?
Sure, there is a war against "terror," and sure the world is not as "secure" as it once was, but what do the words "terror" and "secure" mean anyway? The United States is a country with a long history marked by periodic bouts of isolationism, expansionism, and, what may be a surprise to some, imperialism. (You don't think the Hawaiian's voted to join the United States do you?) Unfortunately, however, as a relatively young nation, the U.S. has never really had the opportunity to effectively develop its foreign policy skills. We've more often than not made things worse by trying to exercise our will through force”something which did not work in Cuba, Vietnam, or Korea to name a few, and which will not, ultimately, work in the Middle East.
Politicians scream at the top of their lungs promising to keep America secure. They tell us that they will protect the homeland from terror. But how are they accomplishing this? After September 11, 2001, the United States launched a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, ostensibly because they were offering a"safe harbor" to Osama Bin Laden. Okay, that's fine, we needed to go in and root out Al Qaeda, but wait, all we did was spread them out of Afghanistan, and into the rest of the world.
THE WMD'S ARE EAST, WEST, SOUTH, AND NORTH SOMEWHAT
No problem, luckily we figured out that there was a "Prague Connection" between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Finally, we had a good excuse to go back into Iraq and take out that despot ”the man who tried to plan to assassinate President Bush" and which incidentally we had propped up for decades. But wait, the Bush administration wanted to bolster their argument for a new front in the conflict now euphemistically called the"War on Terror."
Enter Donald Rumsfeld, armed with "proof" of Weapons of Mass Destruction, he and the rest of the Bush administration sent Colin Powell to the U.N., and well the rest is literally history unfolding. We invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, almost four-years ago, and haven't looked back since.
Three-Thousand Four-Hundred-Six (3,406) U.S. and coalition troops have lost their lives. Twenty-Three-Thousand Four-Hundred-Seventeen (23,417) have been wounded. Obviously, neither of these figures includes the dead and wounded in Afghanistan or the toll on the civilian population in Iraq and Afghanistan. The "War on Terror" rages on and world waits in nervous anticipation of the day when the end of this struggle will be in sight.
IT'S A ROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD
For those of you that may not know, Iran is located snuggly between Afghanistan on the East (or right if you're looking at it on a map) and Iraq on the West (or left if you're looking at it on a map). Ignoring the fact that Iran is one of the only non-Arab countries in the Middle East (Iranian's are Aryan and speak Farsi, not Arabic), and has, at one time or another in its history, been involved in armed conflict with almost every country and tribal group in the region, Iran is in a pretty rough neighborhood, with, as the kids would say, a lot of "haters."
The Middle East is a place where honor means everything, and nothing, depending on who you're dealing with. This paradox leads to an unfortunate need to protect one's interests against sometimes covetous neighbors, who, remembering ancestral blood feuds, view war not just as a right, but an obligation. Now bring in the Behemoth of military might that is the United States into an environment like this, and you have set the stage for Act II of a struggle between the West and the Middle East that finds its roots in the call for the First Crusade by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095” but that's another article entirely.
The reality is that, if Iran is in fact developing a nuclear arsenal, it is doing what the United States, England, France, Russia, China, and Israel, to name a few, did. Surrounded on all sides by angry neighborsâ€”one of which (Iraq) entangled it in a bloody and almost decade-long conflictâ€”and people (Al Qaeda and other terror groups) that the United States is spending billions to exterminate and keep off U.S. soil, Iran is doing what any other government in a similar situation would do: it is taking steps to protect itself.
Imagine for a minute if the United States was located where Iran is. First off there would be a wall (if we're building one to keep Mexicans out, believe me when I tell you we'd build one to keep everyone in the Middle East out). Second, the U.S. military (defense) budget would be roughly one-half of the total Federal Budget (2.77 Trillion for 2007). Third, kids would be carrying nuclear bombs to school instead of lunch boxes.
THE TRIFECTA IN THE WAR ON TERROR
Let's say for a moment that we do what some are claiming/hoping we're planning on doing. Let's imagine that the U.S. and, possibly Israel, bombed Iranian nuclear facilities with tactical nuclear bombs tomorrow -- something both nations have openly discussed. Maybe we've disrupted, or, better yet, neutralized Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons. What happens the day after tomorrow?
First, the Mullahs, the Theocrats that have held Iran's governance in their hands for more than two decades will reestablish a vice-grip on the throat of the young democracy beginning to take root in Iran. The tragedy inherent in this is that, unlike Iraq or most of the rest of the Middle East, and, for that matter, the world, an Iranian democracy would be develop along the lines of French democracy -- from the ashes of a revolution and period of intense strife and suffering. It would be a Democracy born of the innate desire of the people.
Second, America would lose the best and most dear ally it has ever had in the Middle East, namely, the Iranian people. Unlike most Middle Eastern populations, Iranian people, not the government, love the United States. The vast majority bears no hatred for Americans, and, although they may not always agree with U.S. foreign policy, especially when it comes to Iran, Iranians want an open and close relationship with the West, but more importantly and profoundly, they want it with the U.S.
Third, it would unify Iranians from all political, philosophical, economic, and ideological backgrounds behind the current regime. For most Iranians, nothing is more abhorrent than an unprovoked, and what will most likely be viewed by the majority of Iranians as unjustified, attack on Iran and Iranians. It will galvanize the people in a solid unified mass behind the government, a move calculated to exert a stronger and opposite force against the force attempting to break Iran. To illustrate this point, one does not need to look far. The national anthem of Iran prior to the revolution says it all: "Oh enemy, if you are of stone, I am of iron."
Finally, the United States will immerse itself deeper in conflicts that will never end. Billions more will be spent and countless lives will be lost so that Americans can feel like their moving towards the mirage of peace and security, when maybe they are standing in the reality of peace and security already.
GET OUT AND SEE THE WORLD
I recently travelled around Asia and North Africa, and one thing struck all the people I met ”tourists and natives alike”and that was that I, an American, was visiting their country. The world thinks Americans are afraid. The world is right.
Americans won't go to anywhere featured on CNN or Fox News, because we've been convinced that everything is out to get us”we live in terror and insecurity. We gave the terrorists (Al Qaeda, the KKK, Kach Kahane Chai, Wolf Blitzer and the"Situation Room," Hannity and Colmes, Stephen King [but in a good way], and anything or anyone else trying to scare us) their greatest weapon; terror.
We can't go to Europe because there are people trying to kill us there. We can't go to Asia because the birds will give us the flu. We can't eat beef because we'll go crazy. We can't have sex because our genitals will fall off. We've taken some of the best things life has to offer off the menu. Even more tragically, we're sacrificing liberty at the altar of some promised, distant peace and harmony, which, may not, and most likely, will not ever arrive.
At some point, the madness has to stop. Life is fun. Life is great. Life is short. Maybe all it takes to make the most of life is common sense. Common sense in who we elect, what we eat, where we go, and who we f**k.
Here's to common sense. . .