Saturday, September 26, 2009

Iran: The Other Side

The news is everywhere that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon and is deceiving the West (meaning the USA mainly) about this. But why shouldn't Iran have nuclear weapons and why should Iran be accountable to the USA or anyone else on this matter?

I mean -- and I say this in the first entry of a new blog topic: antipode* -- isn't Iran a sovereign nation? Don't all sovereign nations enjoy ... um ... sovereignty over their government and what their government decides to do within its borders?

Sovereignty is, after all, a nation-state's supreme power within its borders. The United Nations charter explicitly states that "The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members" (article 2, para 1).

So where does President Obama get off telling Iranian President Ahmadinejad what to do with his country's nuclear facilities. Isn't that a matter for the Iranians to decide? You might say the Iranians decided when Iran ratified the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1970.

But wait a minute ... who was in power in Iran in 1970? Wasn't it none other than the Shah Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, installed by a CIA-run coup in 1954, the one whom Amnesty International identified as holding and torturing 2,200 political prisoners, the one whose secularization and modernization plan gave rise to the Shi'ite rebel movement of one Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979?

To say that Iran should be held accountable to treaties signed by a dictatorial monarch, who was opposed to everything mainstream Iranian society today stands for, is tantamount to saying that the United States should respect slave tenure in Virginia, since it was once sanctioned by the Confederacy.

Why shouldn't a contemporary Iran, which repudiates everything the Shah stood for, not be able to repudiate a treaty ratification by that long-deposed monarch?

Besides, who says the United States government has the moral authority to tell any other governments whether they should build nuclear weapons? What makes the USA special? Not its restraint.

Not only did the United States bomb two Japanese cities, killing millions in a flash, with nuclear weapons. At least one presidential candidate -- Barry Goldwater -- advocated doing the same in Vietnam.

What makes the nuclear club -- Britain, France, Russia and China -- so virtuous? They haven't had empires and enslaved millions and been brutal and arbitrary? What reason do we have to believe that if they had had a nuclear monopoly, as the United States had for three years, they would not have bombed their own Hiroshima and Nagasakis?

OK, so Ahmadinejad rigged the elections. Didn't George W. Bush get "elected" in 200 and 2004 by fraud? Wasn't it alleged that Mayor Daley's deceased voters had put John F. Kennedy over the top in 1960?

Let the politician who has never made an unsavory deal, never taken money from companies opposed to every item of his public agenda, never arrived to power thoroughly sullied and compromised stand up and throw the first stone.

The Iranians are wild and crazy? Look at the other nuclear nations that might be at one time or another deemed "crazy" and "wild": India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea. Why pick on Iran?

Why not ask all of them to stop?

Indeed, why not follow the South African example -- it disassembled its nuclear arsenal -- and have the United States government provide an example of peaceful behavior in the hope Iran might rise to the occasion?

* Antipode is a new topic on this blog in which I will attempt to pay attention to the opposite of the prevailing conventional wisdom.

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