Iran in the Middle


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“The situation of Iran is best seen on a map. On one side is Iraq, with which they fought a long and bloody war, now in transition and still with thousands of American troops and military bases. On the other side is Afghanistan with a war raging between American forces and the Taliban. Less than 800 miles away at the nearest point is nuclear-armed, paranoid Israel vigorously promoting a war between Iran and the United States….”

Author: Peter G. Cohen, artist and activist, author of the website www.nukefreeworld.com
Published in: Fort Mill Times in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and at Huntington News Network in West Virginia (home page: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/)
Date: February 27, 2010

For the full article:
Iran in the Middle
(526 words)
by Peter G. Cohen

The situation of Iran is best seen on a map. On one side is Iraq, with which they fought a long and bloody war, now in transition and still with thousands of American troops and military bases. On the other side is Afghanistan with a war raging between American forces and the Taliban. Less than 800 miles away at the nearest point is nuclear-armed, paranoid Israel vigorously promoting a war between Iran and the United States.

To give you an idea of its size, a map of Iran laid over a map of the United States to the same scale would reach from the tip of Maine, west to include Lake Huron, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, most of North Carolina and all of the East Coast north of Norfolk, Virginia.

This large nation, with its youthful population, is in the midst of a power struggle between the conservative Iranian Revolutionary Guards and more liberal leadership. It is also struggling to feed its people and to give them a better life. Its oil reserves, in and near the Persian Gulf coast, are among the largest in the world, yet it has been importing gasoline for lack of refinery capacity. Iran wants to grow and to increase its export of petroleum products as the basis for industrial development and satisfying the needs of its growing population.

Whoever wins the power struggle in Iran, they will know that their leadership will be brief, if they end up with a devastating war. One nuclear weapon sent against Israel, American forces or any nation would result in the destruction and possible invasion of Iran. Why then all the bluster about developing nuclear power? Because a bold nationalism is a temporary antidote to public dissatisfaction with the economy.

For Iran, there is the goad of seeing Israel violate dozens of U.N. resolutions and build hundreds of nuclear weapons without joining the Non Proliferation Treaty or allowing international inspections. As Iran is within easy striking distance of Israel their weapons are a constant threat. It is not surprising that the Iranians would like to be in a position to say, “We, too, have a nuclear weapon.”

Given the current situation, Iran will either build or buy one or more nuclear weapons eventually. But it is difficult to imagine that they would initiate a suicidal nuclear exchange with anyone. Just as Israel has made Iran anxious, Iran is making some of its Arab neighbors anxious, and they in turn are pursuing nuclear plants as a means of accessing refined uranium and nuclear know-how.

Knowing that Iran urgently needs development, why not offer to aid development – rather than sanctions – to persuade Iran to keep their nuclear efforts peaceful? Perhaps a modern refinery would do the trick.

Neither punishing the Iranian people with sanctions nor building an expensive and questionably effective anti-missile shield across Europe will stop this incipient Middle Eastern race for nuclear arms. The long-term solution is to devote our best energies to creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. That would make the whole area safer and give the people of the world a better chance for a healthy, radiation-free future.
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Peter G Cohen, artist and activist, is the author of the website www.nukefreeworld.com