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The past few months have seen a tremendous spike in antagonism between the West and Iran’s political leadership. Relations have never been too hot, but, with the latter seemingly closing in on obtaining nuclear capabilities, America and its allies have resolved to ratchet up pressure: first, through diplomatic condemnation; second, through trade embargos; and, if that fails, where does that leave us at stage three?
Military action would seem the natural segue; but America does not hold the appetite for another war – certainly not one carved out with purpose identical to that of the Iraq invasion. However, fundamental to the very debate of Iran becoming a nuclear power is whether it is simply right for them to do so. So, should we be concerned?
The simple answer is: ‘yes.’ While some deluded individuals might clamour that, as a sovereign country, it is Iran’s right to determine their own affairs; as well the fact that, if the USA holds such nuclear facilities: why not Iran? Well, plainly: America is a force for good; acting as mechanism to proliferate democracy, liberalism, capitalism etc. Iranian nuclear capability is out of the question. It would equip them with a wholly disproportionate influence over the world; hell-bent on a hostile ideology of violence, oppression, and conflict. While cynics will instantaneously moan, America is undeniably, for the greater part, a land of peace, and a beacon of liberty.
Furthermore, as our Foreign Secretary, William Hague argued recently, if Iran is successful and we do nothing, it would likely induce a new Cold War in the Middle East; whereby Iran and an increasingly maverick Israel would have the keys to a potentially ‘mutually assured destruction’. Nuclear armageddon would remain a very distinct possibility. Would we really want a return to an epoch of total fear?
The reality of the situation, however, is that America and the rest of the West are consumed by fear and wracked with guilt about ‘another Iraq.’ The fiasco of an Iraqi-style intervention whereby no nuclear warheads were found was undoubtedly a searing blow to American prestige. As James Risen of the New York Times so pointedly affirms, “the ghosts of Iraq [are] haunting” the C.I.A. and the country at large.
If they were to come around to the idea that developing a nuclear programme is against their interests, this crisis of potentially explosive proportions would ground to a halt; and, for this, I admire President Obama’s principled decision of a diplomatic solution still being available to Iran. However, with Ahmadinejad under growing strain from the Ayatollah and the religious circle, a refusal to negotiate is simply inevitable. Following such a refusal, anything other than military intervention would be tantamount to appeasement; and jeopardize the stability of the global order. With Obama’s foreign policy thus far having been impeccable, there are high hopes of a sunny and tranquil resolution. What is clear is that Obama would not want to be another Chamberlain.
Therefore, Iran’s volatility needs more than a degree of wariness from the West; instead, fully-fledged military intervention: with neutralization of the threat primary; and imposition of our political views very much secondary. Nonetheless, in the words of Winston Churchill, “an appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” And, not wanting to be eaten by any reptile, it is clear that any credible evidence – not falsified or exaggerated like in the case of Iraq – is sufficient warrant to legitimate military action – and any discontents of that viewpoint are bare-faced apologists. Iraq was then; Iran is now. And, if not intervention, then what does that say? That we are doomed.