It's been three years since the U.S. launched
its war against Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Of course,
now almost everybody knows there were no WMD and Saddam Hussein posed no threat
to the United States. Though some of our soldiers serving in Iraq still believe
they are there because Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, even the administration
now acknowledges there was no connection. Indeed, no one can be absolutely certain
why we invaded Iraq. The current excuse, also given for staying in Iraq, is
to make it a democratic state, friendly to the United States. There are now
fewer denials that securing oil supplies played a significant role in our decision
to go into Iraq and stay there. That certainly would explain why U.S. taxpayers
are paying such a price to build and maintain numerous huge, permanent military
bases in Iraq. They're also funding a new billion dollar embassy the
largest in the world.
The significant question we must ask ourselves is: What have we learned from
three years in Iraq? With plans now being laid for regime change in Iran, it
appears we have learned absolutely nothing. There still are plenty of administration
officials who daily paint a rosy picture of the Iraq we have created. But I
wonder: If the past three years were nothing more than a bad dream, and our
nation suddenly awakened, how many would, for national security reasons, urge
the same invasion? Would we instead give a gigantic sigh of relief that it was
only a bad dream, that we need not relive the three-year nightmare of death,
destruction, chaos, and stupendous consumption of tax dollars? Conceivably,
we would still see oil prices under $30 a barrel, and most importantly, 20,000
severe U.S. casualties would not have occurred. My guess is that 99 percent
of all Americans would be thankful it was only a bad dream, and would never
support the invasion knowing what we know today.
Even with the horrible results of the past three years, Congress is abuzz with
plans to change the Iranian government. There is little resistance to the rising
clamor for "democratizing" Iran, even though their current president,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is an elected leader. Though Iran is hardly a perfect democracy,
its system is far superior to most of our Arab allies about which we never complain.
Already the coordinating propaganda has galvanized the American people against
Iran for the supposed threat it poses to us with weapons of mass destruction
that are no more present than those Saddam Hussein was alleged to have had.
It's amazing how soon after being thoroughly discredited over the charges levied
against Saddam Hussein the neocons are willing to use the same arguments against
Iran. It's frightening to see how easily Congress, the media, and the people
accept many of the same arguments against Iran that were used to justify an
invasion of Iraq.
Since 2001, we have spent over $300 billion, and occupied two Muslim nations
Afghanistan and Iraq. We're poorer but certainly not safer for it. We
invaded Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden, the ring leader behind 9/11. This
effort has been virtually abandoned. Even though the Taliban was removed from
power in Afghanistan, most of the country is now occupied and controlled by
warlords who manage a drug trade bigger than ever before. Removing the Taliban
from power in Afghanistan actually served the interests of Iran, the Taliban's
arch enemy, more than our own.
The longtime neocon goal to remake Iraq prompted us to abandon the search for
Osama bin Laden. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was hyped as a noble mission,
justified by misrepresentations of intelligence concerning Saddam Hussein and
his ability to attack us and his neighbors. This failed policy has created the
current chaos in Iraq chaos that many describe as a civil war. Saddam
Hussein is out of power, and most people are pleased. Yet some Iraqis who dream
of stability long for his authoritarian rule. But once again, Saddam Hussein's
removal benefited the Iranians, who considered Saddam Hussein an arch enemy.
Our obsession with democracy which is clearly conditional, when one looks
at our response to the recent Palestinian elections will allow the majority
Shia to claim leadership title if Iraq's election actually leads to an
organized government. This delights the Iranians, who are close allies of the
Talk about unintended consequences! This war has produced chaos, civil war,
death and destruction, and huge financial costs. It has eliminated two of Iran's
worst enemies and placed power in Iraq with Iran's best friends. Even this
apparent failure of policy does nothing to restrain the current march toward
a similar confrontation with Iran. What will it take for us to learn from our
Common sense tells us the war in Iraq soon will spread to Iran. Fear of imaginary
nuclear weapons or an incident involving Iran whether planned or accidental
will rally the support needed for us to move on Muslim country #3. All
the past failures and unintended consequences will be forgotten.
Even with deteriorating support for the Iraq war, new information, well-planned
propaganda, or a major incident will override the skepticism and heartache of
our frustrating fight. Vocal opponents of an attack on Iran again will be labeled
unpatriotic, unsupportive of the troops, and sympathetic to Iran's radicals.
Instead of capitulating to these charges, we should point out that those who
maneuver us into war do so with little concern for our young people serving
in the military, and theoretically think little of their own children if they
have any. It's hard to conceive that political supporters of the war would consciously
claim that a preemptive war for regime change, where young people are sacrificed,
is only worth it if the deaths and injuries are limited to other people's children.
This, I'm sure, would be denied which means their own children are technically
available for this sacrifice that is so often praised and glorified for the
benefit of the families who have lost so much. If so, they should think more
of their own children. If this is not so, and their children are not available
for such sacrifice, the hypocrisy is apparent. Remember, most neocon planners
fall into the category of chickenhawks.
For the past three years, it's been inferred that if one is not in support
of the current policy, one is against the troops and supports the enemy. Lack
of support for the war in Iraq was said to be supportive of Saddam Hussein and
his evil policies. This is an insulting and preposterous argument. Those who
argued for the containment of the Soviets were never deemed sympathetic to Stalin
or Khrushchev. Lack of support for the Iraq war should never be used as an argument
that one was sympathetic to Saddam Hussein. Containment and diplomacy are far
superior to confronting a potential enemy, and are less costly and far less
dangerous especially when there's no evidence that our national security
is being threatened.
Although a large percentage of the public now rejects the various arguments
for the Iraq war, three years ago they were easily persuaded by the politicians
and media to fully support the invasion. Now, after three years of terrible
pain for so many, even the troops are awakening from their slumber and sensing
the fruitlessness of our failing effort. Seventy-two percent of our troops now
serving in Iraq say it's time to come home, yet the majority still cling to
the propaganda that we're there because of 9/11 attacks, something even the
administration has ceased to claim. Propaganda is pushed on our troops to exploit
their need to believe in a cause that's worth the risk to life and limb.
I smell an expanded war in the Middle East, and pray that I'm wrong. I sense
that circumstances will arise that demand support regardless of the danger and
cost. Any lack of support, once again, will be painted as being soft on terrorism
and al-Qaeda. We will be told we must support Israel, support patriotism, support
the troops, and defend freedom. The public too often only smells the stench
of war after the killing starts. Public objection comes later on, but eventually
it helps to stop the war. I worry that before we can finish the war we're in
and extricate ourselves, the patriotic fervor for expanding into Iran will drown
out the cries of, "enough already!"
The agitation and congressional resolutions painting Iran as an enemy about
to attack us have already begun. It's too bad we can't learn from
This time, there will be a greater pretense of an international effort sanctioned
by the UN before the bombs are dropped. But even without support from the international
community, we should expect the plan for regime change to continue. We have
been forewarned that "all options" remain on the table. And there's
little reason to expect much resistance from Congress. So far there's less resistance
expressed in Congress for taking on Iran than there was prior to going into
Iraq. It's astonishing that after three years of bad results and tremendous
expense there's little indication we will reconsider our traditional noninterventionist
foreign policy. Unfortunately, regime change, nation building, policing the
world, and protecting "our oil" still constitute an acceptable policy
by the leaders of both major parties.
It's already assumed by many in Washington I talk to that Iran is dead serious
about obtaining a nuclear weapon, and is a much more formidable opponent than
Iraq. Besides, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to destroy Israel, and that cannot
stand. Washington sees Iran as a greater threat than Iraq ever was, a threat
that cannot be ignored.
Iran's history is being ignored, just as we ignored Iraq's history.
This ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of our recent relationship to
Iraq and Iran is required to generate the fervor needed to attack once again
a country that poses no threat to us. Our policies toward Iran have been more
provocative than those toward Iraq. Yes, President Bush labeled Iran part of
the axis of evil and unnecessarily provoked their anger at us. But our mistakes
with Iran started a long time before this president took office.
In 1953, our CIA, with help of the British, participated in overthrowing the
democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh. We placed the shah in power.
He ruled ruthlessly but protected our oil interests, and for that we protected
him that is, until 1979. We even provided him with Iran's first nuclear
reactor. Evidently, we didn't buy the argument that his oil supplies precluded
a need for civilian nuclear energy. From 1953 to 1979, his authoritarian rule
served to incite a radical Muslim opposition led by the Ayatollah Khomeini,
who overthrew the Shah and took our hostages in 1979. This blowback event was
slow in coming, but Muslims have long memories. The hostage crisis and overthrow
of the shah by the ayatollah was a major victory for the radical Islamists.
Most Americans either never knew about or easily forgot our unwise meddling
in the internal affairs of Iran in 1953.
During the 1980s, we further antagonized Iran by supporting the Iraqis in their
invasion of Iran. This made our relationship with Iran worse, while sending
a message to Saddam Hussein that invading a neighboring country is not all that
bad. When Hussein got the message from our State Department that his plan to
invade Kuwait was not of much concern to the United States, he immediately proceeded
to do so. We in a way encouraged him to do it, almost like we encouraged him
to go into Iran. Of course, this time our reaction was quite different, and
all of a sudden our friendly ally Saddam Hussein became our arch enemy. The
American people may forget this flip-flop, but those who suffered from it never
forget. And the Iranians remember well our meddling in their affairs. Labeling
the Iranians part of the axis of evil further alienated them and contributed
to the animosity directed toward us.
For whatever reasons the neoconservatives might give, they are bound and determined
to confront the Iranian government and demand changes in its leadership. This
policy will further spread our military presence and undermine our security.
The sad truth is that the supposed dangers posed by Iran are no more real than
those claimed about Iraq. The charges made against Iran are unsubstantiated,
and, amazingly, sound very similar to the false charges made against Iraq. One
would think promoters of the war against Iraq would be a little bit more reluctant
to use the same arguments to stir up hatred toward Iran. The American people
and Congress should be more cautious in accepting these charges at face value.
Yet it seems the propaganda is working, since few in Washington object as Congress
passes resolutions condemning Iran and asking for UN sanctions against her.
There is no evidence of a threat to us by Iran, and no reason to plan and initiate
a confrontation with her. There are many reasons not to do so, however.
Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, and there's no evidence that she is working
on one only conjecture.
If Iran had a nuclear weapon, why would this be different from Pakistan, India,
and North Korea having one? Why does Iran have less right to a defensive weapon
than these other countries?
If Iran had a nuclear weapon, the odds of her initiating an attack against
anybody which would guarantee her own annihilation are zero. And
the same goes for the possibility that she would place weapons in the hands
of a non-state terrorist group.
Pakistan has spread nuclear technology throughout the world, and in particular
to the North Koreans. They flaunt international restrictions on nuclear weapons.
But we reward them just as we reward India.
We needlessly and foolishly threaten Iran even though they have no nuclear
weapons. But listen to what a leading Israeli historian, Martin van Creveld,
had to say about this: "Obviously, we don't want Iran to have a nuclear
weapon, and I don't know if they're developing them, but if they're not developing
them, they're crazy."
There's been a lot of misinformation regarding Iran's nuclear program.
This distortion of the truth has been used to pump up emotions in Congress to
pass resolutions condemning her and promoting UN sanctions.
IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei has never reported any evidence of
"undeclared" sources or special nuclear material in Iran, or any diversion
of nuclear material.
We demand that Iran prove it is not in violation of nuclear agreements, which
is asking them impossibly to prove a negative. El Baradei states Iran is in
compliance with the nuclear NPT required IAEA safeguard agreement.
We forget that the weapons we feared Saddam Hussein had were supplied to him
by the U.S., and we refused to believe UN inspectors and the CIA that he no
longer had them.
Likewise, Iran received her first nuclear reactor from us. Now we're hysterically
wondering if someday she might decide to build a bomb in self-interest.
Anti-Iran voices, beating the drums of confrontation, distort the agreement
made in Paris and the desire of Iran to restart the enrichment process. Their
suspension of the enrichment process was voluntary, and not a legal obligation.
Iran has an absolute right under the NPT to develop and use nuclear power for
peaceful purposes, and this is now said to be an egregious violation of the
NPT. It's the U.S. and her allies that are distorting and violating the NPT.
Likewise, our provision of nuclear materials to India is a clear violation of
The demand for UN sanctions is now being strongly encouraged by Congress. The
"Iran Freedom Support Act," HR 282, passed in the International Relations
Committee; recently, the House passed H. Con. Res. 341, which inaccurately condemned
Iran for violating its international nuclear nonproliferation obligations. At
present, the likelihood of reason prevailing in Congress is minimal. Let there
be no doubt: The neoconservative warriors are still in charge and are conditioning
Congress, the media, and the American people for a preemptive attack on Iran.
Never mind that Afghanistan has unraveled and Iraq is in civil war: serious
plans are being laid for the next distraction which will further spread this
war in the Middle East. The unintended consequences of this effort surely will
be worse than any of the complications experienced in the three-year occupation
Our offer of political and financial assistance to foreign and domestic individuals
who support the overthrow of the current Iranian government is fraught with
danger and saturated with arrogance. Imagine how American citizens would respond
if China supported similar efforts here in the United States to bring about
regime change! How many of us would remain complacent if someone like Timothy
McVeigh had been financed by a foreign power? Is it any wonder the Iranian people
resent us and the attitude of our leaders? Even though ElBaradei and his IAEA
investigations have found no violations of the NPT-required IAEA safeguards
agreement, the Iran Freedom Support Act still demands that Iran prove they have
no nuclear weapons refusing to acknowledge that proving a negative is
Let there be no doubt, though the words "regime change" are not found
in the bill, that's precisely what they are talking about. Neoconservative Michael
Ledeen, one of the architects of the Iraq fiasco, testifying before the International
Relations Committee in favor of the IFSA, stated it plainly: "I know some
members would prefer to dance around the explicit declaration of regime change
as the policy of this country, but anyone looking closely at the language and
context of the IFSA and its close relative in the Senate, can clearly see that
this is in fact the essence of the matter. You can't have freedom in Iran without
bringing down the mullahs."
Sanctions, along with financial and political support to persons and groups
dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian government, are acts of war. Once
again, we're unilaterally declaring a preemptive war against a country and a
people that have not harmed us and do not have the capacity to do so. And don't
expect Congress to seriously debate a declaration of war resolution. For the
past 56 years, Congress has transferred to the executive branch the power to
go to war as it pleases, regardless of the tragic results and costs.
Secretary of State Rice recently signaled a sharp shift toward confrontation
in Iran policy as she insisted on $75 million to finance propaganda, through
TV and radio broadcasts into Iran. She expressed this need because of the so-called
"aggressive" policies of the Iranian government. We're seven
thousand miles from home, telling the Iraqis and the Iranians what kind of government
they will have, backed up by the use of our military force, and we call them
the aggressors. We fail to realize the Iranian people, for whatever faults they
may have, have not in modern times aggressed against any neighbor. This provocation
is so unnecessary, costly, and dangerous.
Just as the invasion of Iraq inadvertently served the interests of the Iranians,
military confrontation with Iran will have unintended consequences. The successful
alliance engendered between the Iranians and the Iraqi majority Shia will prove
a formidable opponent for us in Iraq as that civil war spreads. Shipping in
the Persian Gulf through the Straits of Hormuz may well be disrupted by the
Iranians in retaliation for any military confrontation. Since Iran would be
incapable of defending herself by conventional means, it seems logical that
some might resort to a terrorist attack on us. They will not passively lie down,
nor can they be destroyed easily.
One of the reasons given for going into Iraq was to secure "our"
oil supply. This backfired badly: Production in Iraq is down 50 percent, and
world oil prices have more than doubled to $60 per barrel. Meddling with Iran
could easily have a similar result. We could see oil over $120 a barrel and
$6 gas at the pump. The obsession the neocons have with remaking the Middle
East is hard to understand. One thing that is easy to understand is none of
those who planned these wars expect to fight in them, nor do they expect their
children to die in some IED explosion.
Exactly when an attack will occur is not known, but we have been forewarned
more than once that all options remain on the table. The sequence of events
now occurring with regards to Iran is eerily reminiscent of the hype prior to
our preemptive strike against Iraq. We should remember the saying: "Fool
me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." It looks to me like
the Congress and the country is open to being fooled once again.
Interestingly, many early supporters of the Iraq war are now highly critical
of the president, having been misled as to reasons for the invasion and occupation.
But these same people are only too eager to accept the same flawed arguments
for our need to undermine the Iranian government.
The president's 2006 National Security Strategy, just released, is every bit
as frightening as the one released in 2002 endorsing preemptive war. In it he
claims: "We face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."
He claims the Iranians have for 20 years hidden key nuclear activities
though the IAEA makes no such assumptions, nor has the Security Council in these
20 years ever sanctioned Iran. The clincher in the National Security Strategy
document is if diplomatic efforts fail, confrontation will follow. The problem
is, the diplomatic effort if one wants to use that term is designed
to fail by demanding the Iranians prove an unprovable negative. The West
led by the U.S. is in greater violation by demanding Iran not pursue
any nuclear technology, even peaceful, that the NPT guarantees is their right.
The president states that Iran's "desire to have a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."
A "desire" is purely subjective, and cannot be substantiated nor disproved.
Therefore, all that is necessary to justify an attack is if Iran fails to prove
it doesn't have a "desire" to be like the United States, China, Russia,
Britain, France, Pakistan, India, and Israel whose nuclear missiles surround
Iran. Logic like this to justify a new war, without the least consideration
for a congressional declaration of war, is indeed frightening.
Common sense tells us Congress, especially given the civil war in Iraq and
the mess in Afghanistan, should move with great caution in condoning a military
confrontation with Iran.
Cause for Concern
Most Americans are uninterested in foreign affairs
until we get mired down in a war that costs too much, last too long, and kills
too many U.S. troops. Getting out of a lengthy war is difficult, as I remember
all too well with Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1968.
Getting into war is much easier. Unfortunately, the legislative branch of our
government too often defers to the executive branch, and offers little resistance
to war plans even with no significant threat to our security. The need to go
to war is always couched in patriotic terms and falsehoods regarding an imaginary
eminent danger. Not supporting the effort is painted as unpatriotic and wimpish
against some evil that's about to engulf us. The real reason for our militarism
is rarely revealed, and is hidden from the public. Even Congress is deceived
into supporting adventurism they would not accept if fully informed.
If we accepted the traditional American and constitutional foreign policy of
nonintervention across the board, there would be no temptation to go along with
these unnecessary military operations. A foreign policy of intervention invites
all kinds of excuses for spreading ourselves around the world. The debate shifts
from nonintervention versus interventionism, to where and for what particular
reason should we involve ourselves. Most of the time, it's for less than honorable
reasons. Even when cloaked in honorable slogans like making the world
safe for democracy the unintended consequences and the ultimate costs
cancel out the good intentions.
One of the greatest losses suffered these past 60 years from interventionism
becoming an acceptable policy of both major parties is respect for the Constitution.
Congress flatly has reneged on its huge responsibility to declare war. Going
to war was never meant to be an executive decision, used indiscriminately with
no resistance from Congress. The strongest attempt by Congress in the past 60
years to properly exert itself over foreign policy was the passage of the Foley
Amendment, demanding no assistance be given to the Nicaraguan contras. Even
this explicit prohibition was flaunted by an earlier administration.
Arguing over the relative merits of each intervention is not a true debate,
because it assumes that intervention per se is both moral and constitutional.
Arguing for a Granada-type intervention because of its "success,"
and against the Iraq war because of its failure and cost, is not enough. We
must once again understand the wisdom of rejecting entangling alliances and
rejecting nation-building. We must stop trying to police the world and instead
embrace noninterventionism as the proper, moral, and constitutional foreign
The best reason to oppose interventionism is that people die, needlessly, on
both sides. We have suffered over 20,000 American casualties in Iraq already,
and Iraq civilian deaths probably number over 100,000 by all reasonable accounts.
The next best reason is that the rule of law is undermined, especially when
military interventions are carried out without a declaration of war. Whenever
a war is ongoing, civil liberties are under attack at home. The current war
in Iraq and the misnamed war on terror have created an environment here at home
that affords little constitutional protection of our citizen's rights.
Extreme nationalism is common during wars. Signs of this are now apparent.
Prolonged wars, as this one has become, have profound consequences. No matter
how much positive spin is put on it, war never makes a society wealthier. World
War II was not a solution to the Depression, as many claim. If a billion dollars
is spent on weapons of war, the GDP records positive growth in that amount.
But the expenditure is consumed by destruction of the weapons or bombs it bought,
and the real economy is denied $1 billion to produce products that would have
raised someone's standard of living.
Excessive spending to finance the war causes deficits to explode. There are
never enough tax dollars available to pay the bills, and since there are not
enough willing lenders and dollars available, the Federal Reserve must create
enough new money and credit for buying treasury bills to prevent interest rates
from rising too rapidly. Rising rates would tip off everyone that there are
not enough savings or taxes to finance the war. This willingness to print whatever
amount of money the government needs to pursue the war is literally inflation.
Without a fiat monetary system, wars would be very difficult to finance, since
the people would never tolerate the taxes required to pay for it. Inflation
of the money supply delays and hides the real cost of war. The result of the
excessive creation of new money leads to the higher cost of living everyone
decries and the Fed denies. Since taxes are not levied, the increase in prices
that results from printing too much money is technically the tax required to
pay for the war.
The tragedy is that the inflation tax is borne more by the poor and the middle
class than by the rich. Meanwhile, the well-connected rich, the politicians,
the bureaucrats, the bankers, the military industrialists, and the international
corporations reap the benefits of war profits.
A sound economic process is disrupted with a war economy and monetary inflation.
Strong voices emerge blaming the wrong policies for our problems, prompting
an outcry for protectionist legislation. It's always easier to blame foreign
producers and savers for our inflation, lack of savings, excess debt, and loss
of industrial jobs. Protectionist measures only make economic conditions worse.
Inevitably, these conditions, if not corrected, lead to a lower standard of
living for most of our citizens.
Careless military intervention is also bad for the civil disturbance that results.
The chaos in the streets of America in the 1960s while the Vietnam War raged,
aggravated by the draft, was an example of domestic strife caused by an ill-advised,
unconstitutional war that could not be won. The early signs of civil discord
are now present. Hopefully, we can extricate ourselves from Iraq and avoid a
conflict in Iran before our streets explode as they did in the '60s.
In a way, it's amazing there's not a lot more outrage expressed by the American
people. There's plenty of complaining, but no outrage over policies that are
not part of our American tradition. War based on false pretenses, 20,000 American
casualties, torture policies, thousands jailed without due process, illegal
surveillance of citizens, warrantless searches, and yet no outrage. When the
issues come before Congress, executive authority is maintained or even strengthened
while real oversight is ignored.
Though many Americans are starting to feel the economic pain of paying for
this war through inflation, the real pain has not yet arrived. We generally
remain fat and happy, with a system of money and borrowing that postpones the
day of reckoning. Foreigners, in particular the Chinese and Japanese, gladly
participate in the charade. We print the money and they take it, as do the OPEC
nations, and provide us with consumer goods and oil. Then they loan the money
back to us at low interest rates, which we use to finance the war and our housing
bubble and excessive consumption. This recycling and perpetual borrowing of
inflated dollars allows us to avoid the pain of high taxes to pay for our war
and welfare spending. It's fine until the music stops and the real costs are
realized, with much higher interest rates and significant price inflation. That's
when outrage will be heard, and the people will realize we can't afford the
"humanitarianism" of the neoconservatives.
The notion that our economic problems are principally due to the Chinese is
nonsense. If the protectionists were to have their way, the problem of financing
the war would become readily apparent and have immediate ramifications
none good. Today's economic problems, caused largely by our funny money system,
won't be solved by altering exchange rates to favor us in the short run, or
by imposing high tariffs. Only sound money with real value will solve the problems
of competing currency devaluations and protectionist measures.
Economic interests almost always are major reasons for wars being fought. Noble
and patriotic causes are easier to sell to a public who must pay and provide
cannon fodder to defend the financial interests of a privileged class.
The fact that Saddam Hussein demanded euros for oil in an attempt to undermine
the U.S. dollar is believed by many to be one of the ulterior motives for our
invasion and occupation of Iraq. Similarly, the Iranian oil bourse now about
to open may be seen as a threat to those who depend on maintaining the current
monetary system with the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
The theory and significance of "peak oil" is believed to be an additional
motivating factor for the U.S. and Great Britain wanting to maintain firm control
over the oil supplies in the Middle East. The two nations have been protecting
"our" oil interests in the Middle East for nearly a hundred years.
With diminishing supplies and expanding demands, the incentive to maintain a
military presence in the Middle East is quite strong. Fear of China and Russia
moving into this region to assume more control alarms those who don't understand
how a free market can develop substitutes to replace diminishing resources.
Supporters of the military effort to maintain control over large regions of
the world to protect oil fail to count the real costs once the DoD budget is
factored in. Remember, invading Iraq was costly and oil prices doubled. Confrontation
in Iran may evolve differently, but we can be sure it will be costly and oil
prices will rise.
There are long-term consequences or blowback from our militant policy of intervention
around the world. They are unpredictable as to time and place. 9/11 was a consequence
of our military presence on Muslim holy lands; the Ayatollah Khomeini's success
in taking over the Iranian government in 1979 was a consequence of our CIA overthrowing
Mossadegh in 1953. These connections are rarely recognized by the American people
and never acknowledged by our government. We never seem to learn how dangerous
interventionism is to us and to our security.
There are some who may not agree strongly with any of my arguments, and instead
believe the propaganda: Iran and her president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are thoroughly
irresponsible and have threatened to destroy Israel. So all measures must be
taken to prevent Iran from getting nukes thus the campaign to intimidate
and confront Iran.
First, Iran doesn't have a nuke and is nowhere close to getting one, according
to the CIA. If they did have one, using it would guarantee almost instantaneous
annihilation by Israel and the United States. Hysterical fear of Iran is way
out of proportion to reality. With a policy of containment, we stood down and
won the Cold War against the Soviets and their 30,000 nuclear weapons and missiles.
If you're looking for a real kook with a bomb to worry about, North Korea would
be high on the list. Yet we negotiate with Kim Jong Il. Pakistan has nukes and
was a close ally of the Taliban up until 9/11. Pakistan was never inspected
by the IAEA as to their military capability. Yet we not only talk to her, we
provide economic assistance though someday Musharraf may well be overthrown
and a pro-al-Qaeda government put in place. We have been nearly obsessed with
talking about regime change in Iran, while ignoring Pakistan and North Korea.
It makes no sense and it's a very costly and dangerous policy.
The conclusion we should derive from this is simple: It's in our best interest
to pursue a foreign policy of nonintervention. A strict interpretation of the
Constitution mandates it. The moral imperative of not imposing our will on others,
no matter how well intentioned, is a powerful argument for minding our own business.
The principle of self-determination should be respected. Strict nonintervention
removes the incentives for foreign powers and corporate interests to influence
our policies overseas. We can't afford the cost that intervention requires,
whether through higher taxes or inflation. If the moral arguments against intervention
don't suffice for some, the practical arguments should.
Intervention just doesn't work. It backfires and ultimately hurts American
citizens both at home and abroad. Spreading ourselves too thin around the world
actually diminishes our national security through a weakened military. As the
superpower of the world, a constant interventionist policy is perceived as arrogant,
and greatly undermines our ability to use diplomacy in a positive manner.
Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and many of today's liberals
have all at one time or another endorsed a less interventionist foreign policy.
There's no reason a coalition of these groups might not once again present the
case for a pro-American, non-militant, noninterventionist foreign policy dealing
with all nations. A policy of trade and peace, and a willingness to use diplomacy,
is far superior to the foreign policy that has evolved over the past 60 years.
It's time for a change.