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01/10/12

No need to wage war against Iran

By Jalal Alavi

With tensions running high between the West and Iran over the latter’s controversial nuclear program, it is becoming increasingly clear that the two sides of the conflict are on a deadly collision course.

A simple accident of a real or manufactured nature in the Persian Gulf, for example, could trigger a military confrontation.

Quite a few of Iran’s Arab neighbors (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates) have already declared their support for such a confrontation by vowing to boost their countries’ petroleum production, so as to calm the world markets.

According to news accounts, the Saudis have even managed to secure a $30 billion deal with the United States for the delivery of more than eighty F15 fighter jets to the kingdom, which could be used against Iran, if need be.

And, as far as Israel is concerned, a military confrontation with Iran would be an ideal situation, for it would rid the Jewish state of one of its “existential enemies” in the region.

Clearly, then, the world is about to witness yet another devastating war in the Middle East region, the ramifications and reverberations of which will no doubt affect world politics, the world economy, and the Middle East region for decades to come.

A simple reassessment, therefore, of the root cause of the problem might help guide politicians and policymakers in the right direction for dealing with this horrific prospect.

International observers monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities believe that the Iranian regime has failed on numerous occasions to come clean with regard to the true nature of its uranium enrichment program, which they suspect is geared towards the production of nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime, on the other hand, believes that the United States and its allies are simply trying to prevent Iran from making scientific progress in the realm of nuclear fuel production, which involves the creation of uranium enrichment facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest assessment that Iran’s nuclear program might also have a military component is, in their view, nothing but a bogus claim designed for that same purpose and thus not to be trusted.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent declaration that Iran has the capability but not the intention of building nuclear weapons unless provoked to do so supports the claims of both Iran and the IAEA, thus paving the way for more sanctions, as suggested by Panetta himself, rather than a military confrontation.

Whatever the truth behind each side’s assertions, one thing is for certain: from a legal (international law) perspective, shaky evidence or mere speculation, somewhat similar to what led to the Iraq war as a result of a neoconservative conspiracy, cannot justify going to war with Iran over its nuclear program.

Unless there is substantial evidence that can truly attest to the hostile nature of Iran’s nuclear program, starting a war against Iran, which would involve, as targets, not just the regime but innocent civilians and the country’s infrastructure, would be a highly disproportionate act, one that in time would draw the ire of the international community.

Economically speaking, the United States and Europe are not in a position to engage in another war in the Middle East region, for their recession- and deficit-stricken economies might not be able to absorb the pressures associated with such a devastating confrontation.

Consequently, making a case for starting a new war in the Middle East in their respective parliaments might also prove to be a very difficult task.

What is more, an attempt on the part of the United States and its European allies to weaken Iran’s traditionally prominent position in the Middle East region through war and potential dismemberment would be strategically highly shortsighted, for a powerful yet democratic Iran, which will surely emerge at some point in the near future as a result of the sorts of pressures that are now mounting on the Iranian regime and the regime’s own internal contradictions, can prove to be a capable agent for peace and stability in the region, as well as a bulwark to any potential expansionist tendencies on the part of its northern neighbor.

There is much, therefore, that the United States and Europe should and should not do when it comes to promoting peace and stability in the Middle East.

At this important moment in history, though, let us hope their policymakers are wise enough to heed the above caveats.

About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator specializing in issues related to Iran.

 

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