Tag Archives: middle east

The Drums of War and Nuclear Terrorism

51% of Americans support military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon (source). 36% are against such military action.

The above statistics scare me. To me it shows that while Americans are tired of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are not tired of war in general. There is still a fundamental hope among the majority of Americans that good can overwhelm evil by hard military force.

For every word I write or speak on the subject, I make sure to read 10 more, and listen much more than speak. There are many very difficult moral, political, social, and financial questions here. How bad is it if Iran gets the bomb? How bad is it that China, Pakistan, and North Korea already have the bomb? What is the best way to prevent the bomb from being used anywhere in the world? Does the United States support Israel if it invades Iran?

The more I learn about war, the more anti-war I become. And the older I get, the more willing I am to stand up for what I believe. I am in support of having a large military but with an emphasis on defense, not preemptive offense.

I don’t want to write much more here today, because a blog is not the correct medium for such discussion. But this is simply a request that you keep your ears and mind open to the facts, costs, and ideas around war before you declare that you are for or against it.

Think not only of the short term, but the long term effects as well.

The Whispers of War With Iran

Main Point: Suppose Iran will eventually get a nuclear weapon. Given that, how do we work towards peace in the Middle East? And no, war should not be “on the table” (maybe under it).

In recent news, interviews, books, the drums of war with Iran are beating. Top political leaders have gone from talk of sanctions, to talk of “all options are on the table”, and finally to explicit statements that if all else fails we must be willing to invade Iran.

What is the justification for such a preemptive war? It echoes that of the Iraq war: “we must prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” – Ehud Barak (Israeli Defense Minister) talking about Iran on Charlie Rose. For him, and many others in the Israeli government, a nuclear-armed Iran is the end of Israel. Moreover, he claims that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, and then decides to invade a small state in the region (as Iraq did with Kuwait), the claim is no one will want to do anything about it.

Even if you believe everything Ehud Barak is saying, the common sense reality it seems is that most of the countries in the Middle East will gain access to a nuclear weapon eventually. That’s the reality from which all conversation has to begin.

It seems to me that there are no comforting answers here, but the hope has to lie in the doctrine of mutual assured destruction. We have to confront the terror of a nuclear attack rationally.

I’ve asked this question before: what happens if a nuclear bomb goes off in one of the major cities in the United States? From the interview above and the many conversations I’ve had on this subject, it seems that people are not willing to even remotely consider such a possibility. It is spoken of as some infinitely horrible event that would destroy all of civilization.

Talking about it in such a way does two things. First, the fear of it is grows without bounds and leads to irrational domestic and foreign policy. Second, it increases the likelihood that the response to such an attack will lead to an even worse catastrophe than the attack itself would cause.

These discussions need to happen in the international community and every country in the world has to be heard, included, and an agreement reached.

Armrest Sharing and the Path to Peace

in-flight-etiquetteA story about in-flight etiquette on NPR cracked me up. There were some interviews which indicated that people in general do not get along. Put them in a tight space together for hours, and that fact becomes more apparent.

Click on the image, it’s a good one.

What I find most entertaining, in particular, is the age old battle of “who gets the armrest?” Apparently, this is a major debate on the internet.

Opinions are as varied as political views. Some people want to share fairly based on size, some people want to help the least fortunate (middle seat), and some believe in survival of the fittest: claim it and hold on.

I think it probably depends on the size, sex, attitude, mood of the person, and many other details of the specific circumstance. But I find these little day-to-day situations strangely representative of human characteristics which lead to or around larger social conflicts and compromises.

If we can resolve the armrest issue, surely peace in the Middle East will soon follow.