Current Events: US policy toward Iran

Robert Gray, Staff Writer

Anyone following the presidential election may have noted that the positions of the Republicans and Democrats in regards to Iran are the same.  While the degree of force recommended to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat is questioned, both sides agree that the Iranian nuclear program must be stopped.  Stronger sanctions, and perhaps military action, are recommended to deal with this situation.  This is not a prudent stance to take if we really wish to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

The warlike stance that the United States has pursued towards Iran is counterproductive.  The United States is, according to Vice President Joe Biden, “willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation; abandon your illicit nuclear program and support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives.”

Our approach to Iran’s nuclear program is eerily similar to the manner in which we dealt with Iraq.  The emphasis is on force, pressure, and uncovering evidence of an ongoing weapons program.  There is a completely adversarial relationship between the current regime and our own government.  The precedent is established that the United States will assist in nuclear development, so long as proper oversight is allowed.  But here, no effort to replicate that situation has been taken.  Rather than overseeing or assisting, the U.S. has pursued conflict.  However, the stakes are different in Iran.  Already, continued pressure and isolation are making Iran less willing to cooperate.  Iran has not been willing to engage in high-level negotiations.

Iranian officials have delayed setting a new date for talks, believing that they face a covert war.  This is acceptable, seeing as the United States has a long history of intervention in Iranian affairs.  Recently, Iran has voiced concerns that IAEA inspectors pass intelligence information from sensitive military sites to their respective governments.  With escalating pressure and open debate in the United States about an eventual attack, it is unlikely that Iran will be prepared to make unilateral concessions.

We are backing the Iranian government into a corner, and increasing the rewards they will reap if they are able to produce a weapon.  A Western strike on their program would be a mere setback, not an end, to the program.  The Iranian military and air defense systems are not unsophisticated, and with the potential of terrorism, it seems certain that such an intervention would be costly.  Iran could easily cut off oil supply through the Persian Gulf, leading to global crisis.  The U.S. military is already stretched thin due to recent taxing wars, and adding to this would be irresponsible.  An attack would only solidify Iranian hostility and unite the people behind the regime.

To prevent Iran from creating a bomb, and to avoid war, we need a reset of relations along a more conciliatory line.