Monday, January 28, 2013

We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran (whether we want to or not)

America seems determined to make Iran its enemy. We present Iran as the enemy based largely upon their refusal to disavow their nascent nuclear ambitions. Our own nuclear ambitions, by contrast, are as lofty as they come. One facet of those ambitions is our desire to pose as the adult in the room and oversee which nations can, and which nations cannot, entertain those same ambitions.  
For Iran to want the same weapons America has is not grounds for enemy-hood. Pursuing those weapons despite our protests does not make Iran the enemy. It simply means they are not our child.  
With new Secretaries of State and Defense soon to be in place, brace for this familiar refrain: "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran." America's politicians are fond of that lie. They imagine it makes them sound resolute. Mostly, they come off sounding rigid, and unfit for the realities of a rapidly-changing world. 
Once we thought we could not live with a nuclear Russia. Then, the Russians got "the bomb" in 1949, and we have lived with a nuclear Russia ever since. We thought we could not live with a nuclear Red China. We have lived with the nuclear-armed Chinese since 1964 - a move that the Mao-led Chinese made to deprive superpowers (Russia and the U.S.) of their "blackmail potential." We have even learned to live with a nuclear-armed Hindu nation (India) and a nuclear-armed Muslin nation (Pakistan) since 1998. Rhetoric aside, the proof of what we can live with is found "in the eating of the pudding." We can live with a nuclear Iran just as surely as we have lived with those insufferable others. 
When we say "We cannot live with…", what we are saying is "We can't bear the thought of…" It is like when you a buy a new car, and a week later, your neighbor buys one, too. As long as you had the only new car in sight, that neighbor was fine. Now, with a new buggy of his own, he has become a bore. 
Whether we can or cannot live with something is an existential matter; what we can bear is not. Iran exists in Central Asia, the toughest neighborhood on Earth. They are surrounded by nuclear powers, and by nations occupied by nuclear powers. They have immense national treasures, and a responsibility to protect those treasures. Having your own nuclear weapon in Central Asia is like having a sign in your window that says, "BEWARE OF DOG." 
Iran talk of a "nuclear-armed Iran" is an existential matter. When America talks of a "nuclear-armed Iran", we are accessing a room wherein is kept - not our existential fears, but our pride and our vanity. Open that door, and the question becomes, "Can we bear the prospect of a nuclear Iran?" The answer, of course, is: "Yes, we can."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YES WE CAN! (that political cry years ago)...It's a matter of probable motives (and/or fears) manifesting that defensive readiness minimizes. I remember the smallest kid of our neighborhood (a spoiled only child) had the biggest & meanest dog named samson. That dog would get loose sometimes and terrify the block until the owners retrieved him. You can imagine the neighborhood plots against the dog (more than against the owner). Nobody moved away because of the incidents, most times called accidents. Some accidents (after investigating) can definitely be deemed premeditated incidents. Means dogs and nukes have very different consequential effects after being loosed but the reasons for initial possession correlate. Nuke victims...I hope I'm never one...but, I think God is the only one that can have mercy upon the one who causes such devastation to people living together. Keep Bangin'! Tico