As a Ron Paul supporter, I have become more comfortable lately with Mitt Romney as the candidate who appears likely to win the Republican nomination. Although anything can happen of course, intrade has Romney winning by a wide margin. Romney has made some serious proposals on entitlement reform in the last two weeks, and this helped me overcome his milquetoast 59-point plan. I have always worried about Romney’s bellicose foreign policy, however, and the presidential candidate proved me right on Friday.
Romney published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that makes the following points:
- Obama’s “engagement” policy is a failure.
- Obama fumbled the “Green Revolution” opportunity of tumbling the ayatollahs in 2009.
- Iran is about to become a nuclear power.
- Romney’s policy will be to “prepare for war” to achieve peace.
- Romney as president will send new carrier groups to the Persian Gulf.
- Romney will increase military assistance to Israel.
- Iran will not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon.
Given that the purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to proclaim peace, I would like to provoke some out of the box thinking with some admittedly politically incorrect statements. If we are going to understand Iran and truly obtain peace, we must begin to look at things from a different perspective. In that spirit, I would ask readers to consider the following points.
1)How could anybody possibly think we are not bellicose enough toward Iran? We have troops in nearly every country surrounding Iran. We have invaded two countries on Iran’s borders. Obama talked about “engagement” but tripled the amount of troops in Afghanistan (actions speak louder than words). The US toppled Iran’s president in the 1950s and installed a corrupt, fascist dictator as our puppet. Imagine if China had invaded Mexico and Cuba and installed anti-US dictators there and still had troops there and then said they needed to “prepare for war” against the United States. How would we receive this message?
2)Is it possible that Iran simply feels surrounded and on the defensive (somewhat how we felt in the 1950s when the Soviets began winning the space race) and is trying to find ways to defend the Persian homeland from a foreign aggressor?
3)Does Iran have a recent history of military expansionism? Has Iran aggressively tried to invade any of its neighbors (the Iran-Iraq war was started by Saddam Hussein)? There is no doubt that Iran provides support to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and has been responsible for barbarous acts of terrorism. Such acts are different than provoking a direct war against Israel, which is the purported purpose of acquiring nuclear weapons. Based on what we know of past Iranian foreign policy, is it more reasonable to think that Iranian nuclear weapons would be used for offensive (attack Israel) or defensive purposes?
4)Do we really think that the entire Iranian leadership is suicidal? Do we believe that they would launch a nuclear strike against Israel, knowing that Israel has more than 300 nuclear weapons and could destroy nearly all of Iran in a retaliatory strike?
5)We have been living with a “Muslim nuclear weapon” for decades in nearby Pakistan. This is the same Pakistan that harbored Osama bin Laden and aided the Taliban for years. In effect, Pakistan is directly responsible for policies that have resulted in the death and maiming of thousands of US soldiers. Why are we OK with Pakistan having a nuclear weapon but somehow we cannot live with an Iranian nuclear weapon?
6)China and Russia have hundreds of nukes. We have learned to live with these countries. Why could we not live with a nuclear armed Iran? Why is it impossible to imagine talking and negotiating with Iran when we talked and negotiated with brutal dictatorships in China and the former Soviet Union?
7)Is our policy in the Middle East working? We have lost thousands of men and women in the region fighting two of our longest wars in US history. What have we achieved? Are we being drawn further into an endless quagmire, or are we winning quickly and leaving (which is the purpose of fighting a war in the first place)? And by being bellicose toward Iran (which Romney says he wants to do), would we be further drawn into this quagmire or not?
8)Is is possible that the real aggressor in the Middle East is the United States? And if this is possible, how do you think Iran is likely to respond to aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and even more military support for Israel?
9)If Iran were to get nuclear weapons, how would they be a direct threat to the United States? Iran has no delivery systems that can reach North America. Even if we accept the proposition that Iran is suicidal and will attack a much better armed Israel, how does this threaten the United States?
10)Iran has supposedly been right on the cusp of getting nuclear weapons for a decade now. Their nuclear program has been severely set back by at least two computer viruses and the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists. Is it possible that such activities will continue to delay an Iranian nuclear weapon and that we don’t need to increase our military presence near Iran?
I want to reemphasize that the purpose of this post is to provoke people thinking differently about Iran. Ever since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, we have assumed that Iran is filled with crazy people intent on attacking the U.S. And since then, we have surrounded Iran with more and more troops. Romney’s response is even more military action and even more support for Israel. Do we really think this is the way out?
It seems to me that latter-day revelation offers a different way of dealing with perceived enemies. Righteous policy is to engage only in purely defensive strategies (re-read how the righteous Nephites dealt with the Gadianton robbers in the first chapters of 3 Nephi). I would propose that an alternate policy, a true “peace through strength” policy, would be to declare victory and begin a withdrawal from the Middle East. We should signal to Iran that we truly want peace and that we will no longer meddle in Iran’s internal affairs. We could also take the step of cutting off foreign and military aid to Iran’s traditional enemies in the Persian Gulf (Iraq and Saudi Arabia). Such steps would begin to change a dynamic that began when we started meddling in Iranian affairs in the 1950s.
Nobody will celebrate if Iran develops nuclear weapons. But a policy of assuming Iran is a sworn enemy while we surround Iran with troops does not offer a peaceful way out.