Now Playing on PBS: Why America Should Support a Nuclear Iran
August 3, 2012 12:34 pm 0 comments
Steven Stotsky Steven Stotsky / JointMedia News Service
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo: wiki commons.
Within Americas foreign policy establishment there exists a coterie of academics and former State Department officials who endlessly toil to sever the close relationship between Israel and the United States. They blame Israel for failing to solve its conflict with the Palestinians and portray the enduring conflict as the main source of instability in the Middle East. They disseminate their message that Americas credibility in the region is undermined by unqualified support for Israel.
The unfolding events of the Arab Spring have dealt a blow to their narrative. As one Arab regime after another is toppled from within, the supposed centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been exposed as false.
Rather than reconsider their fundamental beliefs about the region, these experts have seized upon the debate over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program as an opportunity to drive a wedge between America and Israel. Former Columbia University professor Kenneth Waltz introduced this new tack in his essay, Why Iran Should Get the Bomb (published in Foreign Affairs), which was quickly adopted by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, author of The Israel Lobby. They argue that the current effort to deny the Iranian regime nuclear weapons is the wrong approach.
America, they say, should adopt a new policy and welcome Iranian nuclear capability.
In their view, Iran is not the problem; Israel is. They contend that Israels alleged nuclear capability is, in their view, the source of regional instability. Mearsheimer and Waltz favor a nuclear Iran to balance Israeli power in the region and limit American adventurism. Their position is predicated on the surety that Irans theocratic regime will act rationally, like other nuclear nation-states. They do not address the repeated public threats by Iranian leaders to erase Israel from the map, or those leaders penchant for Holocaust denial.
Leave it to the taxpayer-supported Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to provide a forum for such a fatuous viewpoint. On July 9, the PBS Newshour programs Judy Woodruff moderated a discussion with Mearsheimer and former Defense Department official Dov Zakheim over Waltzs proposition.
Mearsheimer posited, I think theres no question that a nuclear-armed Iran would bring stability to the region, because nuclear weapons are weapons of peace. He assured viewers, They have hardly any offensive capability at all. In that regard, Mearsheimer and Waltz point to the Soviet-American nuclear standoff. However, their superficial theorizing makes no distinction between Soviet ideology and the aggressively messianic beliefs of the Iranian regime.
Influential Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani has already told us what the professors choose to ignore.
If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world, Hashemi-Rafsanjani told a crowd at traditional Friday prayers in Tehran in 2001. According to the Iran Press Service, Hashemi-Rafsanjanis speech was the first time that a prominent leader of the Islamic Republic openly suggested the use of nuclear weapon against the Jewish State.
The current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a religious fanatic who experiences visions, frequently advocates for the destruction of Israel. For example, on Oct. 26, 2005, in a speech to a World Without Zionism conference in Tehran, he vowed that Israel must be wiped off the map.
Nevertheless, PBS takes Mearsheimer and Waltzs hypothesis seriously. An interview with Waltz was published on the PBS Web site to accompany Woodruffs program.
Some of the commenters in the PBS talkbacks were less impressed by the argument for an Iranian bomb. A few thought it was satire; but it was not.
PBS failed to provide its viewers with background on Mearsheimer. He is a proponent of the belief that a nefarious Israel Lobby exists in America that puts Israels interests ahead of Americas and dominates the discourse in Washington. He ignores 50 years of polling data showing that the American public supports a strong American-Israel relationship. He also avoids discussion of the influence of Arab petrodollars and a traditionally Arab-sympathizing foreign policy establishment.
On PBS Newshour, Zakheim refuted Mearsheimers claim that an Iranian nuclear bomb would enhance stability, predicting that proliferation throughout the region would likely follow. The Saudis, especially, are adamant that all options must be considered to end Irans program.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Mearsheimer and Waltz charge that Israels undeclared nuclear weapons are a main source of instability in the region. Unlike Iran, Israel has never threatened to use nuclear weapons, and over 40 years during which Israel allegedly possessed nuclear weapons, no Arab state produced its own nuclear weapons. Even the nuclear program under Saddam Hussein, which was ended by an Israeli air attack, could have equally been motivated by enmity and open hostility with Iran.
Mearsheimers assertion is further refuted by a review of the major wars in the Middle East. The Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf wars, conflict in Afghanistan, Turkish suppression of the Kurds and endless civil wars in Yemen, Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Libya were not connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the Arab Spring uprisings, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a non-issue.
Mearsheimer and Waltzs argument only makes sense as a ploy to draw attention away from Iran and refocus on Israel as the epicenter of the regions problems.
PBS has a noticeable soft spot for guests eager to cast a pall on the American-Israeli relationship. Woodruff exposed the muddled thinking of the network. At the close of the segment, she mused it was a very tough subject.
Of course, in reality, advocating for Iranian possession of nuclear weapons is an extremely reckless position. If moderator Woodruffs summary of the discussion over whether or not Iran should have those weapons as a very tough subject reflects the general thinking in the network news operation, that is disturbing.
Even Mearsheimer concedes, There is always some small possibility that there will be nuclear use. But if the professor has miscalculated Iranian behavior, it is the residents of Tel Aviv who would most likely be incinerated. Talk about disturbing.
The writer is a senior researcher for the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.
Nemo me impune lacesset,
|"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.
It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.
Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."
John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.