The United States is sending additional support to the Persian Gulf in order to build up forces in response to what US leadership have been labeling as an increased threat by Iran and its proxies. It remains to be seen if things will continue escalating into active clashes or potentially open combat. It’s an unsteady situation.
However, it’s interesting to point out that these sorts of conflicts are the result of a US foreign policy, regardless of political party leadership, that has continued for decades. It’s the result of seeking influence over direct protection of the USA and its citizens. It’s a policy that has created entanglements with allies that do not always act in a defensible manner, and it’s the result of attempting to manage and to police the world.
Iran is no white knight. It isn’t a nation that stands on good principles, and is seeking the same type of foreign policy, at its heart, as the US. It is seeking influence more than it is seeking protection. It’s actions often point to a desire to rebuild something similar to the Persian Empire, but this time under the banner of a caliphate. This, in turn, threatens current US allies in the region as the balance of power and the complicated policy interests of all nations in the region could put all those involved in a dangerous clash.
Is it important to support the better side of conflicts?
By words and even potentially sanctions (in certain circumstances), it absolutely is. But, to act militarily in any sort of provocative manner requires some thought and justification as to whether it protects the US and its citizens. The other rationale is to protect US influence and allies born out of policy to further US influence. In the case of Iran, US involvement has been almost exclusively for purposes of influence rather than protection. One necessitates the other. In other words, protection problems arise out of the entanglements that the pursuit of influence has created.
Sometimes allies are necessary when there is a shared threat to nations that share a common foe. But that threat must be from a foe that could potentially cause injury to the country or its citizens. It should not be for the protection of the ability to better manage other nations and other peoples.
More directly, in this case, is it a threat to the US if Iran were to gain nuclear weapons? I do not believe that it is. This statement seems to be heresy amongst the majority of Americans. Ron Paul was derided for making such a suggestion during the 2012 presidential election, but a level-headed and logical pursuit of the idea seems to point to a less worrisome scenario of a nuclear Iran, from an American perspective.
Iran’s primary goal for seeking nuclear power is to further its own greedy foreign policy of gaining control over its neighbors. There’s not much question here that a nuclear Iran is bad for the region’s other inhabitants, especially for Israel, which Iran has continually threatened to eliminate entirely out of existence.
This is going to sound harsh, and it likely would set off intense anger and snide comments from most readers of this column. However, while Israel is the most representative country in the region of fair and honest democratic republican ideals, it is not the job of the US to defend it. Israel is a sound ally and supporter of the US, and it makes sense to verbally defend it, as well as sanction those who threaten it. But it does not make sense to militarily defend a nation that is perfectly capable of defending itself and whose foes (without a policy of US influence in the region) would not be enemies of the US.
Neither can a good case be made that threats against other regional allies represent a direct threat to the US (absent a policy of influence rather than protection). Some of those allies represent destabilizers in the region and do not represent the sorts of ideals the US would or should want to support. There are battles being waged to wipe out, in genocidal fashion, many people, and there are US allies that seek to manage their neighbors rather than allow for coexistence. By supporting many of these allies, the US is complicit in not only destabilizing the region but also in needlessly supporting death and destruction by supporting allies made from bad policy.
Second as to the threat of a nuclear Iran as a direct threat to the US, the concept of mutually assured destruction has turned out to not be such a bad thing. No one ever wants the barrel of a gun pointed in their direction, and from a US perspective, it is never good for an enemy to have a new and more dangerous weapon pointed your way. However, it’s unlikely that weapon will be used when there is a metal threat, and countermeasures are a better deterrent than foreign entanglements that tend to escalate rather than bring tensions to a slower simmer.
From the perspective of Iran, imagine if the US had the Iranian military just off our shores and in Cuba. Imagine if the US were surrounded by the enormous military might of the most powerful military in the world and with constant saber rattling. Under the same circumstances Iran is under, the US would likely be interested in ridding such an imminent threat as well.
I am a long way from an apologist for Iran. Iran has an indefensible sort of government that is a “bad guy” in the region that the US should never support. However, when it comes to tensions and potential conflict with Iran, many things are avoidable. The primary cause of such a threat of conflict is the US’ desire to control and influence the region. It’s the desire to manage the region rather than to consider the policy of protecting its own citizens rather than those of allies that are the result of bad policy.
If there are any “good guys” in the region, Israel would be one. But, it is capable of self defense. Not only does it not need the help of the US for its own survival, but it is not the proper role of the US to offer military defense. Sanctions of threats to Israel and verbal support for it are the proper role in this scenario.
If the US wants to avoid the potential loss of life and potential greater threats to the protection of its people, then its a policy of protection of its people that is needed. Not a policy of influence. Bring the troops back home. Withdraw provocative threats from the region and enjoy greater safety.
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