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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Diplomacy must replace demonization

    Shurid Sencolumnist
    Shurid Sen
    columnist

    Twenty-seven years ago, Iran deposed its U.S.-backed monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in a revolution that led to the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has ensued between the two nations diplomatically can only be classified as bitterly hostile.

    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the United States “”The Great Satan.”” President Bush’s post-Sept. 11 talking points spoke of the “”Axis of Evil,”” likening Iran, Iraq and North Korea to Nazi Germany and misguidedly paralleling his “”war on terror”” with World War II.

    Rhetoric from both sides has consistently attempted to paint the other as “”evil,”” a byproduct of blind nationalistic pride.

    After years of incendiary speech but little in the way of real engagement, Iranian nuclear aspirations threaten to bring the two sides into real conflict.

    The effect has been a relegation of diplomacy in exchange for a dangerous game of international nuclear chicken.

    This makes the upcoming talks between Iran and the U.S., the first since 1979, the most important diplomatic event in years. The diplomatic road is imperative to maintaining the current domestic lifestyle in the U.S. and promoting global stability.

    Pre-emptive action would presuppose Iran is
    attempting to build nuclear weapons, a thesis that relies on the same type
    of intelligence that said Saddam was going to launch weapons of mass destruction at the U.S. The U.S. has already played its mea culpa card and can ill afford another international blunder comparable to Iraq.

    The U.S. policy of pre-emptive action has proven itself flawed. The “”Bush Doctrine,”” born of fearmongering in the time after Sept.11, has proven isolationistic and forced the U.S. to implement its global goals alone, as seen in Iraq.

    Worse yet, and evidenced again by Iraq, it gives the president carte blanche to diagnose and act on any issue without oversight and without evidence to support his claims.

    Given the Bush administration’s penchant for molding facts from policy, not policy from fact, the justifications for pre-emptive strikes in Iran are shallow at best.

    However, pre-emption’s place as the primary tool of U.S. foreign policy has not changed. In the 49-page National Security Strategy released last week by the administration, Iran is labeled an enemy of the U.S., and the policy of pre-emption was maintained.

    Pre-emptive action would presuppose Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons, a thesis that relies on the same type of intelligence that said Saddam was going to launch weapons of mass destruction at the U.S. The U.S. has already played its mea culpa card and can ill afford another international blunder comparable to Iraq.

    Another, larger assumption is also in play: that Iran and its leaders are incapable of handling a nuclear weapon even if they had one, a nuclear hypocrisy coming from the inventor of the bomb, the sole country to ever use atomic weapons and the global salesman of nuclear technology (see India’s deal with the U.S. for access to nuclear technology earlier this month).

    Perhaps the more pragmatic argument against adherence to the “”Bush Doctrine,”” however, is the current state of the U.S. military. It is already overstretched. We seem to have forgotten that troops are still waging uncertain battles in Afghanistan. Iraq has plunged even deeper into violence, costing more and more American lives since the infamous “”Mission Accomplished”” declaration. Another go-it-alone strike would necessitate the reinstatement of a draft or face failure immeasurably greater than what is being faced in Iraq.

    Iran should be held accountable if a nuclear weapon is being devised in a country in which 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and the average person lives on $8,100 per year. However, U.S. foreign policy must account for a country more than twice the size and population of Iraq, not afflicted by a decade of world sanctions like those Iraq prior to invasion. Clearly, a war with Iran like the one unfolding in Iraq would be unwise.

    Top U.S. diplomat John Bolton crowed this month that Iran would face “”tangible and painful consequences”” if it did not comply with the U.S. The next day, Iranian president Ahmadinejad clucked, “”harm and pain”” would befall America if Iran were attacked. Hopefully this game of chicken ends in meaningless rhetoric rather than war.

    Shurid Sen is a political science and economics junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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