Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 39- Iran

Dear Mr. President,

I'm not a fan of President Ahmadinejad. I find his policies infuriating and his rhetoric dangerous. I have strong doubts, if not outright disbelief, in the legitimacy of the election that empowered him. I'm also not a fan of nuclear weapons. I think it's probably a good idea to try to prevent, whenever possible, their creation and use. So, while I clearly agree that it is essential to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power, I don't think you're going about it the right way.

I'll admit straightaway that my foreign policy knowledge doesn't live in the same galaxy as your own. You probably know better. But from the perspective of one who doesn't get daily intelligence briefings, let me just say that I think we could get more success with a different approach. For one thing, it's foolish to pretend that Israel isn't already or at least very close to being a nuclear power itself. Not only does this make our anti-proliferation stand sort of a joke, it overlooks a very real threat to Iran. Israel may be our ally, but they demonstrate, year after year, their willingness to fight threats, real and otherwise, by punishing civilian populations. The people of Gaza, Al-Khalil, and Beirut have experienced this first-hand. The people of Iran may wonder if they are next.

Also, the more we isolate Iran, the more popular support Ahmadinejad will have to go nuclear. For one thing, The Bomb can be seen as the only defense against an alliance of so many other nuclear powers. Wouldn't it make more sense to bring Iran to the table? To work with them directly instead of reinforcing the idea that the whole world opposes them? If Ahmadinejad and his ilk didn't have America and Israel to vilify, where would they generate the fear they need to stay in power?

Maybe it's hopelessly naive, but I honestly think that we'll make more progress by treating Iran as an ally- and expecting the Iranian government to behave accordingly, both with regards to nuclear power and human rights- than by more sanctions and isolation.

Respectfully yours,



  1. Oh, Israel *totally* has the bomb. Their nuclear status is like Area 51...everyone knows it's there but no one talks about it. There was actually a little bit of a scandal a few years back when an Israeli official basically said "We have The Bomb". I'm sure the US helped them get it. I don't think Israel would ever perform a first strike--they're too small. I think they'd only use it in a "scorched earth" scenario. But I'm not commenting to speculate on Israeli nuclear war scenarios...

    Anyway. Iran. Ahmadinejad scares the hell out of me. He's nuts. I suspect this is how dyed-in-the-wool Democrats felt about George W. I tend to agree with your opinion that brining a country with a rogue leader into a dialog seems like the better way to go. Although, I wonder if that doesn't work so well when the person you're dealing with is not rational. I don't pretend to understand foreign policy very well. I suspect a lot of refusing to embrace Iran has to do with not wanting to appear weak. Obama is a Democrat (and a muslim! j/k..but seriously, that shadow still looms) so he would get eaten alive if he entered into a dialog with any Middle Eastern country besides Israel. We need a hawk to decide to try another tack (maybe you should write letters to John Bolton? "Dear Mr. Bolton, Mahmoud needs a hug.").

    I was thinking earlier today that I'm pretty happy with how the President has been handling national security and foreign policy. He's gone back on some stuff he said during the election, and is even more or less going back to some of Bush's policies. I'm guessing that this because Obama is smart (really smart), and he's also not so stubborn and/or arrogant that he will refuse to change his mind if the information presented to him necessitates a different course of action (a quality I didn't particularly admire in our former president...and most politicians, for that matter). I suspect things look different from the Oval office than the campaign trail. Anyway, I figure if the far left is bitching at him he must be doing something right. :-P

  2. Matt, I usually respect your opinions but here you have jumped on the crazy train with the rest of the uninformed masses. Ahmadinejad isn't nuts. He's not irrational. Neither, by the way, is Bin Laden. If they were comic book villains all of this would be so much easier. They're rational men who do terrible things for power. And we're responsible for their existence in a lot of ways, but we are never going to "beat" them if we write them off as nuts. I think the Bush comparison is an apt one, because they're both right-wing, theocratic megalomaniacs, but they are not crazy. Iran isn't going nuclear because they're hell-bent on world domination, they're doing it because no one wants to be the only unarmed thug in the ghetto. We've got the biggest guns, right now, so we can't act all surprised when the littler thugs want guns as well, and we can't bully them into disarmament.

    As for Israel, it's not about first-strikes (although I'd argue that they come across as a lot more trigger-happy when you're not holding an American passport) it's about our credibility. Who are we to say that Iran can't have the bomb but Israel can? Sorry, but when was the last time the Iranian air force leveled a foreign city or killed a thousand civilians in under a month? If we're making the argument that we don't want these weapons in "the wrong hands" I don't see how we can completely ignore this glaring hypocrisy. You can bet the rest of the world, especially the middle east, isn't.