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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's think carefully about Iran

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

Once again, we're seeing a ratcheting up of tensions with Iran. Democrats and Republicans are threatening tough sanctions if Iran doesn't agree to greater transparency regarding its nuclear program.

Many Republicans are calling for military strikes of suspicious facilities, and they're denouncing Obama for recognizing the dictatorial regime by conducting more direct negotiations. Before opening Pandora's Box, perhaps we should step back and take a deep breath.

While Republicans are talking tough again, let's remember that the Bush administration did virtually nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program. There were no air strikes and no brutal sanctions. Refusing to speak with the anti-democratic regime did little to stem Iran's march toward nuclear power.

On the Democratic side, there may be more direct discussion now, but the threat of punitive sanctions is growing stronger by the day, even if sanctions only serve to punish the people while strengthening the power and resolve of the ruling elite. Iraq is a perfect example.

After twelve years of punitive sanctions, the Iraqi people greatly suffered while Saddam and his ruling party became further entrenched. Plus, these rogue states always seem to find ways to circumvent the full extent of sanctions.

Sanctions- especially tough ones- can be viewed as a declaration of war by some nations. Japan attacked America because of stringent economic sanctions. Sanctions, while bringing suffering to the innocents of Iran, could spark a military response by Iran and its proxy-army, Hezbollah.

If this were to occur, America would be faced with wars on three different fronts: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Considering our skyrocketing debt, weak Dollar, and raging war in Afghanistan, combat in a third theater could prove economically and strategically debilitating. Oil prices could spike, the Dollar could plunge, and a devastating regional war could result.

Military strikes on certain targets may, at best, slow the pace of nuclear development, but our own military officials claim, that due to bunker fortification and a lack of adequate intelligence, the strikes would not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Plus, as aforementioned, it would illicit an unpredictable military response against U.S. targets in the Middle East and on Israel (via Hezbollah). Crippling sanctions and/or military strikes will also not likely find a willing crowd in Iran's de-facto economic allies, Russia and China.

And we had better tread carefully with China, since it owns almost $1 trillion of our debt. If China starts exiting the Dollar at a more rapid pace, our financial system will spiral into chaos yet again.

If we start meddling too intrusively into Iranian affairs, we risk committing ourselves to an opposition that may not want to abandon its nuclear ambitions or may not prove to be a willing partner in the future.

Remember when we supported Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980s? That came back to haunt us. And remember when we supported the Mujahedin in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union? Now, they're fighting us.

And remember when the CIA installed the Shah? A dangerous Islamic Revolution swept into power decades later in a popular backlash. The lesson is, beware who you support today, for they may turn out to be your enemy tomorrow.

There's a reason our Founding Fathers strongly urged us to avoid foreign entanglements.

So, what can we do? How can we sit idly by and watch a brutal regime march toward nuclear weapons? They could use these weapons to threaten Europe, Israel, and the United States. They could use them to sell to terrorists on the black market. All this is true, but it's no reason for panic.

In Europe, EU giants, France and Germany, have technically exited the global recession earlier than the United States. They possess the monetary and technological means to build their own missile defense.

Israel, by all accounts, possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons, the most sophisticated intelligence network, the most advanced weaponry in the Middle East, and a robust anti-missile system. They possess the will, the means, and the battle-tested experience necessary to defend themselves against an existential threat.

Meanwhile, we could build up our own national missile defense (instead of cutting it), enhance our border and port security to prevent any potential EMP launch, improve the intelligence capabilities of currently existing organizations to better track black market operations, and seek ways, via backchannels, to open up the Iranian market to American influence and exports.

But, we'd have to cut back on the size, scope, and cost of the global empire. And we'd have to further engage the Iranian leadership, no matter how corrupt, to improve our chances of a peaceful resolution.

After all, American Presidents, Republican and Democrat, spoke directly to Soviet Premiers, despite the fact that the Soviet Union brutally oppressed its people, ruled Eastern Europe with an iron fist, and pointed tens of thousands of missiles at our cities.

These are simplified solutions, of course, but they are solutions that could serve as a "big-picture" alternative to the hysteria building up over Iran again. The tough talk makes for good show, but in reality, it could lead us down a path of military confrontation that could have far reaching effects on an economy that is already hanging on by a thread.

Perhaps this could serve as a wonderful opportunity for the 2010 liberty candidates to stand up and articulate a clear vision on how best to resolve our differences with Iran. Until a better alternative is presented, the public will continue to look to the party regulars and network personalities for answers.

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