MARCH 8 , 2012
The Sage Colleges were closed this week which finally allowed this hard working academic to catch his breath. Sure, there’s always lots of catch up work to do, grading exams, following the various international issues from Chinese developments to Middle Eastern politics that are the bread and butter of this international specialist. Not forgetting the increasingly loud question of whether the world wants to see Iran, with its generations of fanatically religious leaders, obtain nuclear weapons, an issue that has dominated the political conversation of late.
Superficially of course, as in — all the Super Tuesday sniping at Obama for not attacking Iran quite fast enough for some of the republican contenders. Denigrating his willingness to use diplomacy a bit longer before letting loose the American arsenal, and of course for Israel, a considerably more extensional threat. For a nation born in the shadow of one Holocaust contemplating the development of nuclear weapons by a nation already calling for yet another annihilation.
But even this dedicated professor can’t work all the time. Vacations are a time to relax as well. And relaxing is what this movie buff had in mind as I went off to see The new academy award winning Iranian film Separation, a wonderfully apolitical film about a couple of Iranian families just trying to deal with the frustrations of life caught between doing their best for both their children and aging parents.
While the increasingly weak Iranian national economy drags them down–a film full of people making mistakes but where understandable motives, even of the most irritating characters, seem reasonable. And like all good films, I found myself entering ever more deeply into of the lives of those quite sympathy Iranians. Yes, I began to imagine myself in their position, started to assume their memories. Remembering the horrors of 1980s when Iran had been brutalized by the eight year war begun by the murderous Saddam Hussein, a war that saw hundreds of thousands Iranians die. While the American navy, even as the war raged shot down an Iranian passenger jet with almost three hundred civilians on board.
Yes and even more recent memories flooded in. Memories of how the most powerful country in the world slowly helped take down the governments of so many of Iran’s neighbors. First the Soviets, then the Afghans then the Iraqis and suddenly, the thought hit me. If I were an Iranian, I would want a nuclear bomb too If for no other reason than for protection. After all, I thought even Saddam would still be in power if he’d had one. And the Americans just offered thousands of tons of biscuits to the North Koreans. Another wacko regime if there ever was one that already has the bomb for a weak promise to merely slow down their build out of the program.
Now let’s be clear here seeing Iran, develop nuclear weapons is probably another step toward Armageddon. Yes, a step that first began with the first American use of such weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And then became even more possible when the Russians gained them during the Cold War, got even scarier when China, at the height of the Maoist chaos mastered them as well. Not forgetting that the long-time enemies India and Pakistan both have their own nukes.
But the idea of starting a war in a highly questionable effort to successfully impede the Iranian nuclear effort, all the while uniting the Iranians around an increasingly unpopular regime, Itself already stewing in its own juices of self- destruction, especially as the Ayatollah Khamenei has stupidly chosen to undermine the one safety valve the Islamic republic ever enjoyed, the ambiguity of the hybrid nature of the regime, part theocracy part democracy seems absurd.
No, getting in the way of that Iranian march toward self-destruction seems a terrible idea. While the Cold War Era policy of containment and mutually assured destruction however denigrated of late seems increasingly attractive. Sure no one wants to live with yet another nuclear player on the scene but frankly that’s something we have lived with since the moment the nuclear genie came out of the bottle and it’s not going to change whether Iran gets nukes or not