Wednesday, July 28, 2010

THANK YOU Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for finally not being a crazy bastard, and a few words on our foreign policy

Let's all take a moment to celebrate. This is epic.

So Ahmedinejad wants to talk. What's so great about this round of talks? Well, for once he is not being a complete lunatic. We've all heard the stories of how Iran isn't going to stop its nuclear program, and how it's going to rain fire down on the Western world etc. It takes a pretty creative imagination to come up with these speeches, but an even more creative imagination to believe that Iran would actually follow through with plans to attack the United States. I've always thought Ahmedinejad, was crazy, but I never thought he was dumb. Attacking the US, especially with nuclear missiles, would be suicide for any country. Also, I highly doubt that under such intense international scrutiny, Iran would supply nuclear missiles to terrorists. After all, we invaded their next door neighbor just because we suspected they had some sort of big guns... and Iran knows that.

No, what makes me happy is that for once, the double standard held against "countries that we don't like" is being questioned. If Iran is not allowed to have nuclear weapons (OR even nuclear power plants, which is what they say they want), and must allow inspectors to come in and look through their facilities, and must sign agreements promising to do X, Y, and Z... then why is it that Israel can have nuclear warheads pointed at every single one of its neighbors. After all, when you think of the one country in the region that on a regular basis uses excessive force in dealing with conflicts, only one country comes to mind.

But let's not even question Israel's "right to nukes" because probably they need them more than anyone else in the region (this is what happens when you piss off all your neighbors). Can we instead focus on the fact that Israel has not signed the same nuclear nonproliferation agreements that we are trying to force on Iran? Can we focus on the fact that they have nukes and won't even acknowledge they do... Their public statements on the matter amount to "umm, well, we can't say we don't, but can't say we do either" which frankly, stopped being convincing a long time ago.

This flagrant double standard is completely unacceptable. In the arena of international politics, there are no bad guys and good guys. Sure, we the United States are friends with Israel and don't see them as a threat. But when dealing with other countries, that is not an assumption that we can make for them. Not every country is friends with Israel. Take Iran's point of view for just a second:

- Their next door neighbor was invaded and its leader executed on the basis of "we thought they might be bad" (granted we knew their leader was bad, but that still doesn't give us the right to invade a sovereign nation).

- Their arch nemesis (Israel) has the capability to, with the push of  a button, wipe them off the face of the planet (and they have no ability to retaliate at all).

Is it fair to assume now that Iran would want something to defend itself with? Do you think that Iran is reassured one bit when we tell them they have nothing to fear because we are the good guys? Even if they're not after nuclear missiles... isn't it wholly unfair that Israel can have hundreds (or possibly thousands) of nuclear missiles but that Iran can't even build a power plant? Do we really want a foreign policy classifies half the world as second class citizens?

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I think this is a good time to reflect on our foreign policy. It's easy to see how our attitude towards other countries (we are good, you are bad) can anger them. And while we have the safety of knowing we can get away with angering countries, because nobody in their right mind would go to war with us, it is a BAD strategy. You know why? Because:

- It makes us a world bully, the country who pins other countries against their lockers and takes their lunch money

- It promotes extremism in "bad" countries by constantly fueling the anti-American fire

And finally,

- While no country in their right mind would go to war with us, plenty of terrorists who are NOT in their right mind can attack us, knowing very well that we don't have the capability to retaliate against them. If Saudi terrorists bomb New York City, we can not retaliate by bombing Saudi Arabia.

I am by no means advocating that we end our alliances with Israel or any other countries and become friends with everyone. Instead, I am suggesting that US foreign policy needs to take an approach that respects other countries as sovereign nations with their own agendas. We cannot only address our security needs and ignore those of other countries. In order to have peace, everyone must feel secure. Part of that is to have international standards that ALL countries agree to... and when someone doesn't play by the rules (Israel, Iran) they face the SAME consequences.

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So back to Iran. I'm really curious to see how the international community responds to Ahmedinejad's statements. And as crazy as I think the man is, I think that by raising the issue of Israel's nuclear weapons, he is making significant progress in the resolution of this conflict - he is addressing his country's right to nuclear energy/national security while at the same time showing the world that he is ready to do so in a peaceful way.

We would so kick Iran's ass in a fight though... it's not even funny.

Mo out.

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