Friday, November 03, 2006

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IRAN?

OK, now that I've ruled out the role of god in dealing with Iran (see my previous post), does that mean people should do nothing? Certainly not. (As an aside, our Israeli cousin, after reading my letter in the Jerusalem Post, said that she agrees with me - George Bush is not god's operative who has been willed to destroy Iran - but her take is that god should bomb Iran!)

The Israeli Prime Minister yesterday chastised the world community for not being tough with Iran, and for being too slow to do so. Israel is rightly concerned about Iranian moves towards nuclearity (a term I just invented), considering: 1) Iran's announced intention to develop nuclear weapons, 2) the Iranian President's continuing declarations that the Holocaust was a fake, 3) the Iranian President's stated goals of wiping Israel off the map, and 4) the televised tests by Iran yesterday of missles capable of delivering warheads to Israel.

I'm certainly not a statesman or a diplomat, and I won't pretend to be one. I also don't think we can change the direction Iran is taking by saying "pretty please don't" or something like that. But I can't accept a military response as the first response. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is, in my opinion, justified in criticizing the international community for moving too slowly on this threat. The world community, including the NATO countries, China and Russia, as well as many others, need to take a very strong and very vocal stand against Iran's moves towards nuclearity. Economic moves should be clearly designed to hurt Iran in the pocket book (and I don't mean by starving the Iranian people), and diplomatic moves should be designed to isolate Iran as a country moving in a dangerous direction.

But - and this is a major but - channels of communication with Iran should be kept open, and new channels developed to move towards agreement on basic principles. Unfortunately, the United States does not operate this way under Geaorge Bush. Instead, the U.S. administration uses name-calling (Axis of Evil) and threats of war to try to bully our "enemies" into submission. The foreign policy of the United States is a simple one - no policy at all, and don't talk to people we don't like. Every action gets a reaction. And the U.S. President has not made and kept friends around the world who are eager to stand with us; instead, Bush has pissed-off many governments around the world, and not built bridges of understanding and cooperation. Do I think Bush is the problem vis-a-vis Iran? No, but he has made matters worse in a very short time.

Let's not kid ourselves, Iran is a direct threat to Israel, the Middle East, and world stability. If the rest of the world diddles around too long, Iran might do something stupid, which will have very dire consequences for large numbers of people and for global relations. Maybe they want that to happen (they being the present rulers of Iran). So my message to all you world leaders who are regular readers of my blog is: do something now before it's too late.

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