July 10, 2008

Thoughts on Iran

This rant on Iran has been a long time coming. More specifically, this rant on double standards as they apply to US policy on Iran.

Ok, we have here a case of Israel making threatening moves on Iran. Threatening talk, too. And Iran responds by testing long range missiles that could threaten Israel. For this the US State Department condemns Iran.

Imagine two hypothetical countries. One country is allowed to achieve nuclear weapons. The other country, nearby, now feels unsafe unless they can get nukes too. Country 1 feels threatened by country 2's attempt to get nukes. We allow country 1 to attack country 2, but we don't allow country 2 to retaliate or even defend itself. Country 2 sees its fears confirmed and works harder to get nukes. We allow country 1 to attack country 2, but we don't allow country 2 to retaliate or even defend itself. Country 2 gets really mad and starts making threats. We call them foolish and crazy. And terrorists.

Meanwhile in countries 3-85 leaders are organizing campaigns to rape ethnic minorities into extinction, starve the political opposition, steal the entire GDP and run, and scores of other atrocities.

The nuclear cat is out of the bag. It's not going back in. Get used to it. The number one state sponsor of terrorism (Pakistan) has it. Why not encourage Israel to take care of them? They're a hell of a lot more dangerous than Iran. Leave Iran alone.

I don't even support sanctions. Making the Iranian government feel victimized only makes them more paranoid. The Iranian people aren't some backwards tribesmen. They have, or want to have, everything we have. Much of it has to be hidden from the government, but only part of their government is elected. The religious guy who sits at the top (Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) is the real problem. Iran's got a lot of unemployed young men and Khameni's a good "grassroots organizer". He can whip up a riot in mere hours in response to American or Israeli actions. Normal people trying to lead normal lives have a hard time getting rid of a guy like that. Especially when the evening news is talking about Gaza and the West Bank. Everybody's upset about Israel.

In fact, there's only 3 ways they will ever get rid of him and his ilk.
1. Things get so bad the people have nothing left to lose by taking to the streets against him.
2. All the young men get jobs and get wives and kids.
3. Some great inspirational person or event broadly changes public opinion.

Obviously this does not address outside intervention, but if history teaches us anything, it teaches that overthrowing governments often has unintended consequences. In fact, that's how Iran got into the mess they're in now. We overthrew their government in the 50's and the guy we left in charge got overthrown by the current bunch back in '79. The regime change thing is very tricky. Best to let each country work out its own government.

Which brings us back to the nuclear issue. Israel has the bomb. That makes the Supreme Leader nervous. US support of Israel's policies against the Palestinians makes the Iranian people mad enough to support their government sometimes. Can we blame them for wanting nukes? We've shafted them for decades and given them a neighbor that can nuke them unchallenged. A neighbor widely seen in the region as a bully.

We're not the only country allowed to exploit our natural resources. We're not the only country allowed to pollute. We're not the only country allowed to exploit our workers. And we're not the only country allowed to have an arms race. Even if we beat everyone else to it by decades.