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Monday, September 28, 2009

Why shouldn't Iran have Nuclear Weapons?

I hate to seem like a 'party-pooper' or the barer of reality, but can someone please actually think about what we are all saying about Iran and nuclear weapons? We are saying: I can do something, but you can't. It is not more complicated, or in-depth than that, it is a simple case of one entity (or entities) claiming that they are allowed do one thing while while another can not.

I understand that there are legally and internationally recognized treaties that have been signed, but these treaties are based on 'belonging' to an international regime that is in no way freely joined or adhered to, but necessitated. In order to be a respected part of the international community it is important, even mandated, to be a part of these treaties. Yet, still, how does one navigate this community when it is so grossly skewed in the favor of one set of power brokers or ideological distinction? Iran is sitting on the outside looking in at a world who's global 'laws' are controlled by the five permanent members of the UN security council. Iran holds no real international sway and are at the mercy of others both economically and militarily (as are virtually all nations).

Iran is caught in a region of the world who's ideological predispositions are already marginalized and who's power is waning. In countries throughout Europe there is a drift to the far right as people try to maintain their 'cultural heritage' and ethnic homogeneity. This is of course in a place that is in a dominant position in the global race of ideology and power and only marginally affected. In the Middle East, there is a great diverge between older customs and the westernization that has been overtaking the region for hundreds of years now. Of course there is blow back here.

Iran, in looking to defend its own interests has fought regional wars and has always been deeply caught up in the Middle East's religious struggles. Israel has nuclear weapons and their main benefactor, the United States, is the world's dominant power player – nuclear or otherwise. Iran falls on the other side of any strategic discussion with these two countries and is viewed as an enemy in both places. Given this situation, why in the world wouldn't Iran want to obtain nuclear capabilities? Especially after the world saw what this meant for North Korea upon gaining nuclear capabilities.

Unfortunately, the world we live in is still based on the uncivilizing tenets of self/national-interest, and the use of force to gain advantage for one's interests. Iran has every right to pursue nuclear weapons given these principles (that the West pushes) and the only reason the international powers (specifically the West) feels like it can 'legally' tell Iran what to do on this subject matter is that, for all intents and purposes, the these 'powers' wrote the rules on nuclear arsenals and don't want to see the 'balance of power' change (i.e. they don't want their unbalanced power relationship with another country to actually become more balanced.)

I find this logic absurd when looking at the world as a whole and not from the viewpoint of one actor. Yes, I understand that the world is a 'dangerous' place, but this is of its own historical making and can be lessened by its own making. The world today is predominantly 'run' (politically that is) by the five victors of World War II. I mean just think about this. How is it ever possible to think that the world's governance can be set up to include all and function, when only one side is represented? Granted the system has functioned very well at times as those victors fell out of favor and into two distinct camps that had their own cold war. But seriously, this is no way to govern a world, especially now that those two camps are not so far apart as they once were – and are economically coming closer and closer to the point where they are wholly dependent upon each other.

Iran is a part of the international community and has tried to maintain a relationship within it. But this community is not set up for a country like Iran to succeed – at least not along its own lines, only those set out in Western principles and goals. Iran wants to protect itself and its own interests (this is also the fundamental ideological tenet of the Western countries and their peoples, and very much a Western concept as per its institutions). Iran – given its adversarial position with other major players in the region and world – should be pursuing an alteration in the balance of power currently held, and should be seeking for a more assertive voice. This focus on the self is a profoundly Western concept – Liberalism, Civil liberties, Democracy, Human Rights, Private property, Free-markets, etc. – are all admirable concepts pushing for individual liberty, yet seemingly only when these 'liberties' fall into line with Western principles. A state or foreign culture looking to its own independently originated interests and maintenance of power (what the West is trying to teach it to do) is not allowed. Iran can profoundly do this by gaining nuclear capabilities. This gain will give it voice and power far sooner than 'economic development' ever could. Currently, the US, Israel, and others in the region are in a position to bully Iran. The US in general is in a position of bully throughout the world. I for one, would like to see this power held further in check. Given the norms found in today's world, I'd like to see Iran and other non-western oriented states gain nuclear capabilities, strictly so the US and other uncivilized actors in the world can not bully those that do not share their cultural, economic, and political views.

I do not believe that nuclear weapons are something that will actually ever be used by states again. Iran – and specifically its leaders – will know full well that if they used these weapons that it would be suicide for themselves. And yes, some entities throughout the world do not see this martyrdom as a problem. But I fail to see how a state actor could possibly use the weapon as anything but leverage and an attempt to readjust the balance of power it has with the world. Even if used, a lesson learned we would have. To take others seriously, treat them with respect, and not think that they could or should be bullied. People like Osama bin Laden are reactionaries. They are defending their cultural and ideological views (just as Americans and others do). Terrorism is a term used by those in power to demean the point and means of their adversaries. Yet these people, are no different than America's revolutionary war heroes. They are fighting for their freedom and independence. Would you want a Saudi Arabian military base in Maryland? Americans don't even want maximum security prisons that house 'terrorists' in relative vicinity to themselves, never mind a foreign military base from an ideologically different country with ulterior motives close by. We must show respect to the world and its ideals in order to function amicably within it. And by this I do not mean in verbiage, but in fundamental goals and systemic desires. The current capitalist regime's focus on growth and expansion does not allow for this respect. The goal is to gain scarce resources for our own (or companies, or nations) immediate reward, not to live respectfully and cooperatively with others or for another's development.

Actually, if you really want to know my true ideological view on it all, we should all just get rid of nuclear weapons entirely, US, Russia, everyone. But unfortunately that is not realistic. So I figure that perhaps a true balance of power is more apt to help the world. If more states have nuclear weapons, the world will be playing on a more equal playing field, and it will be less likely that someone will use them for fear of their own demise. Perhaps it is far fetched given the more of some thing there is the more likely it could be used – as is seen with guns. But this is on a different scale, a riffle and a nuclear warhead are of different levels. And while it would be nice to take away all of these means of easy death, some are more influential on a mass population and political level than others. Given the world's political, economic, cultural, and military power situations, right now all I see is the bully trying to tell the bullied that the bullied can not do what the bully does out of fear that the bully will no longer be able to bully. This is a simple power trip saying “I can do this, but you can't, and because I said so.”  The worst thing to me about it all, is that the general populaces of these 'democracies' do not recognize the absurd logic in this line of thought, and simply condone this bullying behavior because that is the message presented to and ingrained within them. Despite that being bullied is not OK on the playground that one's child plays on (where a bruised eye/ego and lost lunch money are about as tough as it gets), but it is ok on the world's geo-political landscape where economic dearth, political isolation, and war tend to be ready outcomes of bullying behavior. Billions of people in the world, and we're only concerned about and/or allow ourselves to identify with the few that live near us or share cultural similarities. Think people, don't listen, think.

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