Striking Iran?

I’m profoundly disturbed by the recent talk in Washington of the feasibility of hitting Iran with a massive military airstrike sometime in the near future. It seems that the possibility of striking Iran is inching closer toward inevitability every day. According to recent story in the New York Times, if Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities then a second, joint strike by the United States is almost certain. Likewise, the Huffington Post has also reported on the agreement by members of congress that attacking Iran in the future is just about the only thing members of congress agree upon. There’s nothing like a good old war to take our minds off the real problems facing this country.

Israel has every right to be cautious when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, whatever that turns out to be. President Ahmadinejad has publically stated that Israel should not exist and has even suggested that Iran would, given “good” reason, attack Israel to bring about its destruction. However, a preemptive attack by Israel would be a hair trigger reaction based solely upon the nervous tensions that are already high in that region. Nevertheless, Israel does have a right to protect itself. The real question is if Iran is actually a threat to Israel or is Iran just pounding its chest? I seriously doubt that Iran is a threat to Israel, but Iran’s jingoistic rhetoric must be taken seriously. The United States must also pay particular attention to the rhetorical stance the President of Iran has taken in recent years.

Most recently, Iran seems to have been occupied in flexing its muscle in the Strait of Hormuz by conducting military drills and threatening to cut off trade routes. All of this, of course, causes the price of oil to rise. Back home we feel this at the pump. In the United States the price of gasoline is quickly approaching $5.00 per gallon. Having said that, I am not sure how much Iran has had to do with this and how much of it is caused by the greed exhibited by our own oil industry. Some of the greed is caused by our own citizens in refusing to give up the “right” to drive some of the biggest vehicles on the planet.

However, to attack Iran at this point would be foolhardy and disastrous. The economy of the United States cannot afford another war at this point. In fact, we probably cannot afford another war for at least another decade. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have adversely effected our resources and the morale of the nation. I don’t think the citizens of the United States want another war and I am sure that the citizens of Iran do not want a war. If reports coming out of Iran are accurate, then President Ahmadinejad does not have the support of his people.

Last fall I attending a conference in Prague that examined the concept of suffering through interdisciplinary perspectives. Gathered together were nearly twenty intellectuals from various fields and from all over the world. I had the pleasure of sitting next to an Iranian intellectual who teaches at the University of Tehran. Although we did not become fast friends, we did get along very well and I think we enjoyed one another’s company. The people of Iran have a rich history and we should work to promote cultural exchange on a greater level. What the members of congress seem to be bent on promoting is continued distrust and fear.

What the future holds for our two countries, indeed, for the entire world, is anybody’s guess. Yet, things cannot continue the way they are. Mutual distrust and fear provoke responses that are foolish and devastating. Instead of war we should promote cultural exchange.

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