So Bush calls Iran part of the "Axis of Evil" prompting the Iranian people to elect a hard-line man off the streets as their president to talk tough against the superpowers, and now we're faced with Iran wanting nuclear ("nucular") power. Another Bush administration success. Now we have justification for continuing on with the PNAC agenda laid out even before 9/11 and the Bush hijacking of 2000.
To top things off, this street-wise Iranian president Ahmadinejad has been insulting and provoking Israel. When I first heard about this, his supposed call to wipe Israel off the Middle East map, my reaction was that this nutcase must be either insane or working for the Freemasons. Why would the leader of Iran dig his nation even deeper into the hole it's in? I don't have the answers to that question, but I'll speculate.
1. Iran wants nuclear power plants, not just as a cover for developing nuclear weapons but also as a source of energy for a developing economy. Word has it that Iran is supplying electricity to Iraq now and there's every reason to think that with the rising price of oil and natural gas, Iran could be making money on the international market for all three forms of energy, oil, gas, and nuclear-generated electricity.
2. The Iranian people in general feel that they have a right to defend themselves against aggression. I have a sense that even the neo-cons know this time that American tanks would not be welcomed with roses in Tehran. If the Americans went into Iran the way we went into Iraq, the war would be a whole lot messier than it now is in Iraq. Iran wants and feels that it deserves a first line of defense, a deterrent defense, a good reason for any aggressive superpower to not launch an attack. It worked for the Soviets and China. It's worked so far between Pakistan and India. It seems to be working for Israel. And it seems apparent to the Iranians that their only hope to prevent American aggression is just such a defense. The primary reason for Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is the current very real aggression of the United States.
3. Iran recognizes that the primary reason the west doesn't want them to have a nuclear defense is their proximity to Israel. We in the west assume that Iran would want to use nuclear weapons preemptively against Israel. That seems to me to be a very naive perspective for us to hold since it assumes that the Iranians are suicidal as a culture. It's not very likely to be true. Iran is no different than any other nation. They want their own nationality. They want to survive. But they don't want to submit to any western superpower. They want self-determination. They don't want nuclear annihilation, but at the same time they are willing to do whatever it takes to defend themselves.
4. Iran recognizes the new threat on their western border, American-occupied Iraq. Iran knows that the American presence in Iraq is a far greater threat to them than Saddam's military ever was. There's every reason to believe that the US is poised in Iraq to launch a nuclear attack against Iran, a massive tactical nuclear attack against advancing Iranian troops should a US air strike or invasion lead to an Iranian conventional-weapon counterattack in response. There's every reason to believe that the US is developing in Iraq the same kind of defense it used against the Soviets in Europe during the Cold War. Tactical nuclear weapons are an integral part of the US arsenal against advancing enemy armies. Iran knows it.
5. Iran knows that the UN is not the solution. Iran watched while the UN disarmed Iraq, thus leaving Iraq defenseless against aggression. The Iranian people don't intend to let that happen to them. They know they can't depend on the UN to keep the superpowers at bay. They have to defend themselves.
6. Iran knows that the attack is coming. They know that if they don't submit to Israel and to the western corporate economic powers, their government will be overthrown and the same economic process now being forced onto Iraq will be forced onto Iran. It has happened before in Iran and it will happen again if Iran is not able to develop a deterrent defense.
All things considered, it makes sense for Iran to develop its defenses. What doesn't make sense is that Iran seems to be baiting Israel to attack. How can that possibly support Iran's future as a nation? How does it fit into Iran's defense?
One reason that makes sense to me is that Iran is drawing the name of Israel into the Middle East War. President Bush has declared that it is irresponsible and partisan to suggest that Israel was a motivation for the Iraq war. Iran's president Ahmadinejad has changed the rules for Iran. He has made it impossible to claim that aggression against Iran is not motivated by the defense of Israel. That in itself is a defensive maneuver for Iran, a deterrent. What looks at first glance like insanity is actually a clever diplomatic move on his part. What he is telling the west is that if we do invade Iran, there's no way it won't implicate Israel. There's no way the people of the Middle East won't hold it against Israel. And there's every reason for Israel to not want that. Israel has enough enemies in the Middle East already. They don't need to be perceived as the real reason for US Middle East aggression.
I fear that America's blind fear of the Middle East will drive us into a war of aggression that most of us will live to regret. It seems to me that the time for debate is now. We made some serious mistakes while we debated Iraq before we attacked. We clearly cannot trust our leaders to make the right choices. In a time when we should be debating and negotiating with Iran rather than dictating to them as we now are, we ourselves, the American people, should be openly debating our future. Do we really want to be the superpower that forces its will on the rest of the world? Do we really want to pay that price? Or is there some way to secure the world that doesn't demand our presumed moral superiority and our dominance?
These people that we are trying to dominate are not the barbarians we assume them to be. We'd see that if we'd take off our blinders. We have come to see the Iraqis as enemies. We have long thought of the Iranians as our enemies. But they are only our enemies if we insist that we are dominant. If we could free ourselves of that insane notion and begin a dialog with these people that sees them as our actual equals in humanity, maybe we could begin to shed the fear we have of them. And maybe, just maybe, if we did that, they would respond to us with peace.