U.S. foreign policy is obsessed with demonizing Iran. It has been since the pro-American Shah was popularly overthrown in 1979. From instigating wars to military attacks and the present economic sanctions, the American government seems hell-bent on punishing a society who revolted against a pro-American despot. Our latest move — the economic sanctions — is ostensibly in direct response to Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear technology. However, given the very low likelihood of an Iranian preemptive attack, and other countries that pose more of a potential threat to international peace, the U.S. should be focusing its nonproliferation efforts elsewhere.
As with any country that is attempting to develop its nuclear technology, Iran should be monitored. But the current U.S. policies are completely unwarranted. Iran has not preemptively attacked another country in over a century, and has made no indications that it plans to change this pattern anytime soon. The Iranian government understands it is vastly outmatched by the U.S. and Israeli armed forces, which would pose an existential threat to Iran in any armed conflict. Much of the war mongering in the media, which as of late has switched from “if” to “when” Israel will attack Iran, points to the oft-quoted line by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he said Israel should be “wiped off the map.” However, what Ahmadinejad said in Persian was actually meant to imply that the Israeli regime should be dismantled, a far cry from all-out war.
Instead of focusing on Iran, the U.S. should pragmatically turn its eye to three nuclear powers that have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT): Israel, India, and Pakistan. In contrast with Iran, Israel has started a number of wars, including two within the last six years. While it has been attacked, most notably during the October War of 1973, Israel is guilty of invading other countries on numerous occasions. During its last two wars alone, Israel killed around 2,000 civilians in Southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, not including its numerous isolated attacks on Gaza. And now, war drums are beating amongst the Israeli defense brass for its next offensive, targeting Iran. When one objectively looks at who will be more likely to use a nuclear device in the near future, Israel seems a more likely candidate.
Both India and Pakistan are also nuclear powers that are currently engaged in a bitter war of (mostly) words, mainly concerning the disputed territory of Kashmir. While there has not been serious conflict between these two countries in some time, they are two additional states with nuclear weapons that are not NPT signatories (the last is North Korea), and definitely warrant more concern and pressure from the U.S. government than does Iran.
If it wants to have a logically-consistent international policy in an effort to limit nuclear proliferation, it would make more sense for the U.S. to shift its focus towards the nuclear powers of Israel, India and Pakistan that have not signed the NPT, rather than Iran, which has signed the NPT, and whose nuclear weapons program is very much in doubt.
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