Policy toward Iran should be ‘better safe than sorry’
Imagine living in a region where the extremist president of one country would like to see your country wiped off the map. Now imagine that the hostile country has developed nuclear weapons and missiles with which they can destroy your home. This is a situation that Israel may face if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is correct in supposing that Iran is developing nuclear technologies for non-peaceful reasons.
The question at hand is how the international community should react to Iran’s secret nuclear program. In particular, should Iran’s nuclear abilities be disabled by a military strike that would destroy facilities contributing to their nuclear weapons program? If I were the prime minister of Israel, I would pursue this course of action.
Such military strikes would not be land invasions, but rather air strikes against specific targets in Iran. Like most uses of military force, it is a delicate matter, so other options should be considered.
The possibility of economic sanctions against Iran is one peaceful solution being discussed, but the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has already placed sanctions on Iran four times in the past few years regarding its suspected program. These sanctions failed to uproot the program.
Even if more sanctions would be effective, the Russian government is refusing to support implementing them, which is problematic because Russia is a permanent member of the UNSC, allowing it to veto any resolution for sanctions. So, unless Russia would abstain on a UNSC vote for sanctions, that route will likely prove ineffective.
Another possibility, taking a laissez-faire approach to the Middle East, could be very destructive. Iranian President Ahmadinejad claimed six years ago that Israel should be eliminated. While he has not advocated violently destroying Israel, it is disconcerting that his country is seeking nuclear weapons with the capacity to reach Israel from Iran.
It seems unlikely that peaceful methods will resolve the problem of a nuclear Iran. The day after the IAEA report was released, President Ahmadinejad claimed that Iran would not compromise on their current nuclear program.
Limited Israeli military strikes on facilities related to the production of nuclear and ballistic technologies would have the positive effect of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Such strikes also lack the normal amount of death and destruction that would come from a land invasion.
Of course, such strikes could have negative consequences for Israel. As Michael Eisenstadt, senior fellow at Washington’s Institute for Near-East Policy, has noted, Iran and Syria are allies and an assault on Iran could lead to retaliatory rocket strikes on Israel from Syria.
This puts Israel into a difficult situation that probably would not be resolved by letting the United States perform the strikes, since America and Israel are considered to be so closely intertwined anyway. Israel, then, must choose whether to take a chance with letting Iran go nuclear, or facing possible airstrikes from another Middle Eastern country.
Quite frankly, I do not see how Israel can allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons as that would pose the greatest threat to that nation’s security. Due to the destruction they cause, an anti-Zionist state with weapons of mass destruction is just about the worst foreign policy situation for Israel, with the exception of multiple anti-Zionist states having them.
We do not know whether or not Iran would actually use nuclear weapons against Israel, but they have chosen to violate international law in their nuclear program and do not believe that the state of Israel has the right to exist. This is cause enough for concern for Israel and presents them with a just cause to launch a limited strike on Iranian facilities. The maxim is: “better safe, than sorry.”
The decision to launch military strikes against Iran must be up to the Israeli government since it is their security at stake. If America attacks Iranian facilities without Israel’s consent, then they may set off a negative reaction that Israel did not want. At the same time, if Israel chooses to destroy Iran’s facilities, we must accept this as a form of self-defence meant to prevent the possibility of the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians.
G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” Hopefully this warning will be taken to heart by those trying to decide how to deal with Iran.