MENA stands for Middle East and North Africa. And it appears as though the folks at Foggy Bottom decided that it would be best for that region to be in balance, of military power, even as the Europeans are trying to isolate Iran from the rest of MENA by building solar arrays in the Sahara to power 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050 (a very unambitious goal but an auspicious beginning). It is hard for the Anglo-Americans to change their ways: the United States wants to go back to the glamorous days of Adnan Khashoggi and 007 as if Democrats and Hollywood are making foreign policy.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton, is reported to have told a group of students in Doha, Qatar that her country sees Iran moving toward a military dictatorship. She is said to have repeated the same assertion in Saudi Arabia later. This is serious language coming from a cabinet official in the administration charged with U.S foreign policy.
This claim by the United States directly contradicts the Iranian assertion that its nuclear program is peaceful because if its nuclear program is indeed being controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, then it is not a civilian program. Therefore, if we are correct in our public assertion that Iran’s nuclear program is being run by its military and the civilian theocratic government may be losing control of the state, the intent of the program is not peaceful as Iran is claiming.
Iran, a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), can legally produce both nuclear reactors for power and nuclear weapons for its military, indigenously, just as the United States had done initially under the auspices of the U.S military during and after World War II, using them both, both in war and in peace. Further, as a sovereign country Iran can also choose its form of government, whether that be a theocratic democracy (similar to the United Kingdom, albeit far more conservative) or a military dictatorship. Neither the United States nor any other nation has any authority over those choices Iran makes for itself, wise or unwise. Iran could very well end up turning into another Pakistan in the Middle East, but a legal nuclear power, unlike Pakistan. It could legally become another Saddam’s Iraq with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in plain sight.
Still, there is only one good reason why the Iranian nuclear program must not exist: the exercise of Iranian sovereignty can have serious negative repercussions for the welfare of its neighborhood because nuclear technologies, military and civilian, are complex and dangerous to put into use without more sophisticated help. Half-baked yellow cake can only produce more terrorism such as dirty bombs in a suit case in the hands of a fifth horseman riding a steam ship (or are the sea horses diesel now?) into the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as if Judeo-Christianity’s collective Jungian unconscious is hurtling into Armageddon to realize a self-fulfilling prophecy in anticipation of millennial peace. The unintended consequence could be millennial extinction.
To counter Iran, Iran’s neighbors have the reactive option of arming themselves to balance their military strength against a nuclear Iran, extending the Israeli strategy in the region to themselves or they can ask the United States and other technologically advanced countries for help to provide them with a security umbrella. It is likely, based on the remarks of Secretary Clinton, that the neighborhood is perhaps being goaded by the United States to do both, to achieve regional rapprochement with Israel using the pretext of Iran. The Bush European missile defense policy seems to be morphing under Obama into a MENA-defense policy as though the American President got his Nobel after Prague for taking the proposed missile defense systems out of Europe’s backyard only to put them in the geographic midst of the mess.
A security umbrella, a phrase that is as much of an oxymoron as is ‘legal weapons of mass destruction’, is not a good idea if lasting peace is to be achieved in the region (even if weapons sales can help the bottom line of the U.S economy in the short run) because the region has the more peaceful option of working with the permanent members of the U.N Security Council to avert another arms race in the Middle East by ending the Iranian nuclear program before it really begins, rather than wasting their export revenues on arming themselves.
The legality of any such unilateral (by the United States) or multilateral approach (at the United Nations) is still as much a test for the rest of the world as it is for Iran. Arbitrary and selectively self-serving evidence of responsible behaviors by the permanent U.N Security Council members (perm-5) is not evidence of similar behaviors in the future because had the perm-5 been responsible there would have been neither nuclear testing violating the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) several times nor covert nuclear proliferation violating the NPT. Treaties are not window-dressings.
Neither the perm-5 nor NATO has any good reason to entertain ideas of de facto, self-anointed and self-righteous behaviors to entitle it to WMDs, as a matter of international law. WMDs are not a social matter. If anything they are a social pathology. Responsible behavior entails a firm global commitment to dismantle all nuclear weapons, similar to the ban on chemical and biological weapons. And only such responsibility in practice is the necessary pre-condition and justification to go to war with Iran if Iran does not comply even after such a commitment from the perm-5. And only then civilization may flower (not the de facto Mayflower theocracy in the United States).
If the United States is willing to commit itself to work to receive a firm global commitment to end nuclear weapons programs in all countries which possess nuclear technologies per a treaty and a timeline to supersede all previous treaties and U.N resolutions and conclusive evidence exists for our assertion that the Iranian nuclear program could be a way for the Iranian military to take control of the country, we can begin preparations to destroy the Iranian nuclear program through a targeted military operation to weaken and displace the current Iranian regime with its more democratic opposition as a consequence, from within. Regime change in Iran must not be the goal of any military operations.