February 10, 2005

War Games

Posted by Sima

The comments in response to Niki's post incited me to write this entry. I am troubled by some of the underlying assumptions in these responses. Let me start with Nur's comment. Nur writes, "On the other hand Iran could simply abandon its nuclear ambitions. That would be nice. If I am not mistaken they feel that nuclear weapons would be a deterrent. This reasoning is badly flawed and needs to be reconsidered immediately. The ball is in Iran's court. Let us hope they choose wisely."

To me there is no doubt that nuclear weapons should be abandoned, not only by Iran (assuming that Iran has such weapons), but also by the U.S. and Israel, where nuclear development programs are proliferating un-problematically as we speak. I don't think nuclear weapons are the means by which peace can be achieved anywhere. But the silence around the development of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Israel reveal the naturalized assumption that these states have the capability of handling these deadly weapons rationally, where others do not. Such reasoning is troublesome as it falls back on the Eurocentric ideas of the rationality in the "West" in opposition to the "savagery" and "barbarity" of the rest.

Unlike Nur, I don't think that "the ball is in the Iranian court." It is an all American game... a deadly one that uses nuclear weapons to conquer. It seems to me that the U.S. is on a world tour... The losers? Ordinary Iranian people and those who die on both sides.
The winners? Corporations that profit from the development of nuclear weapons, military machines, "reconstruction projects," and oil. In fact for those who are afraid of losing their homes and their lives, it is not a game at all. A game connotes the consensual play of both sides. Just like a video-game, this war is a one-sided game. Perhaps it is this Game Boy mentality that leads Tim to write, "NUKE IRAN BEFORE THEY NUKE U.S.A!"

The comments in response to Niki's post incited me to write this entry. I am troubled by some of the underlying assumptions in these responses. Let me start with Nur's comment. Nur writes, "On the other hand Iran could simply abandon its nuclear ambitions. That would be nice. If I am not mistaken they feel that nuclear weapons would be a deterrent. This reasoning is badly flawed and needs to be reconsidered immediately. The ball is in Iran's court. Let us hope they choose wisely."

To me there is no doubt that nuclear weapons should be abandoned, not only by Iran (assuming that Iran has such weapons), but also by the U.S. and Israel, where nuclear development programs are proliferating un-problematically as we speak. I don't think nuclear weapons are the means by which peace can be achieved anywhere. But the silence around the development of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Israel reveal the naturalized assumption that these states have the capability of handling these deadly weapons rationally, where others do not. Such reasoning is troublesome as it falls back on the Eurocentric ideas of the rationality in the "West" in opposition to the "savagery" and "barbarity" of the rest.

Unlike Nur, I don't think that "the ball is in the Iranian court." It is an all American game... a deadly one that uses nuclear weapons to conquer. It seems to me that the U.S. is on a world tour... The losers? Ordinary Iranian people and those who die on both sides.
The winners? Corporations that profit from the development of nuclear weapons, military machines, "reconstruction projects," and oil. In fact for those who are afraid of losing their homes and their lives, it is not a game at all. A game connotes the consensual play of both sides. Just like a video-game, this war is a one-sided game. Perhaps it is this Game Boy mentality that leads Tim to write, "NUKE IRAN BEFORE THEY NUKE U.S.A!"

I am not surprised by the comment by the "Iranian guy" where he asks Bush to "attack Iran as soon as possible." To this man, Bush is "our only hope in Iran for freedom and democracy." There is no question that the state repression in Iran has pushed certain segments of the society to accept war as the only option to rid Iran from the rule of the current regime. The generic and all-encompassing name "Iranian guy" notwithstanding, by no means does this approach represent the "will of the people.” Unfortunately, however, these voices are the ones that are appropriated by the Bush administration to legitimize war. Sites such as Iranians for Peace reflect the opposition to war by young Iranians who have worked hard towards change in Iran. Some of the most vocal people against a possible war on Iran are those who have at one point or another been arrested by the Iranian government. The politics of Iran cannot be reduced to “mullahs vs. Bush” that the “viva Bush- down with mullah” slogan of the “Iranian guy” suggests.

Obviously, it is difficult to say what percentage of people in Iran opposes war. However, eight years of experiencing war has proven that besides death and destruction, war only halts dissent. As patriotic sentiments in times of crisis mobilize people to defend territorial boundaries, any form of dissent is deferred and any progress towards political change is halted. If a segment of the Iranian youth desires a military attack, it is perhaps because they have no memory of the years of war, and perhaps because they only get their news from satellite television programs that are industriously working to sketch a rosy image of American democracy. I doubt that these youth ever hear about the attacks on abortion clinics, the demise of education, the inherent racism that criminalizes people of color in the U.S., the homophobia that constantly denies queers rights of citizenship, the gang violence, and the list goes on…

Frankly, I am not convinced that a military attack on Iran will even remove the current regime. The case of Iraq (and I am referring to the bombing of Iraq during Bush Senior’s presidency) has shown that "precision bombing" and supporting “pro-democracy” groups cannot bring regime-change. It will only make conditions of living harsher for many Iranians who live in Iran.

February 10, 2005 09:53 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Great site, guys! I hope that my stupid leader doesn't make war with you, either!
Mark

Posted by: Mark at February 11, 2005 01:12 AM

There is no doubt that all nations should work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and minimize the chance that they could ever be used again. The US and Russia are reducing . We are trying to climb down out of that tree , you know, where we have 10,000 warheads pointed at each other. That being said the equation becomes much more complicated if many other states begin to make these weapons. This will lead to only one result and that is the use of these weapons. That much is an inevitibility if everyone get the bomb as had been suggested on the other thread. So we should not go that way. Iran needs to reconsider.

Israel should climb down also, assuming that they are really nuclear power. Everyone who does not have these weapons should not try to get them. Everyone who has them should put them down. This will require peaceful resolution to thorny issues like Taiwan/Beijing, Kashmir, Palestine/Israel N. Korea/ Everybody, etc. What good will it do India and Pakistan to stumble into a nuclear exchange? Seriously, the world is on the precipice. Non state players are also a possible wild card. This is madness.

Posted by: nur at February 11, 2005 02:08 AM

The two dominant nuclear powers are mutually scaling back their weaponry. The US and Russia have made much progress in negotiating treaties and backing away from WMD. Had research continued, as you suggest, then the US would currently be in possession of neutron bombs and star-wars technologies. In a similar development, the US has not developed microwaves as a weapon. Had the US pursued biological or nerve agents, there would be biological weapons that could do things from rendering an entire population infertile to a simple plague to AIDS that spreads like a common cold. Contrary to your beliefs, none of this has happened. Both the US and Russia have been slowly but steadily reducing their arms and backing away from WMD. Closing Pandora's box is not an easy thing to do. Rogue nations that want to open additional Pandora's boxes simply place the entire globe in even deeper jepordy.

Posted by: Nyet Given at February 11, 2005 03:59 AM

No nation has dropped a nuclear bomb on another one for the past 60 years. We have come close to a nuclear catastrophe at least a couple of times, but in each occasion the common sense prevailed. It's true that Israel has nuclear weaponry, but can you imagine what would happen if it ever uses it, say against Iran. The who world will condemn such action, never mind the fall out and since Iran is in such close proximity, the fatal radiation. But if a terrorist gets his hands on a nuclear bomb, then it's a different story. Today we heard North Korea has the bomb. There you have a lunatic head of state. He has ballistic missiles that can reach the US. But even in the case of this lunatic, Americans know that he would never use them. So this is all a political game. US wants to put pressure on Iran and they have found an excuse. Europeans are just trying to prolong these discussions as long as they can. Now even if Iran agrees to everything that they want, and stop everything, do you think it would satisfy the US? I don't think so. They will find some other excuse: whether it's human rights or terrorism. This game will go on until someone blinks. Most likely it will be the mullahs.

Posted by: Jahangir at February 11, 2005 04:34 AM

Jeeziz... If that assholio bush really does try something as stupid as assaulting yet another sovereign nation, I'm really afraid that it will be the end of life as we know it. Not that we're all going to die or get blown up, but no more suv's!! And soccer moms in the usa(or anywhere)? Forget about it, the government won't help you if you aren't a contributor. New jobs? Not unless you plan on a military career. Nice house in the 'burbs? Don't get real cozy. Better dust off that camping equipment and hamonica because there are going to be a lot of new blues songs... Not just in the usa, but all over the world. We just can't take too much more of this shit.!! We'll just implode, if we're lucky.

Posted by: justin at February 11, 2005 07:38 AM

Nur are simply lying, because "the Bush administration is busy dismantling the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This treaty, signed in 1968 by officials of the United States and of almost all other countries, obligates non-nuclear nations to forgo development of nuclear weapons and nuclear nations to take steps toward nuclear disarmament. The Bush administration reveres the first obligation and wants to scrap the second.

In late December 2004, news accounts quoted an administration official as saying that the final agreement at the NPT review conference in 2000--which commits the declared nuclear weapons states to an "unequivocal undertaking" to abolish nuclear weapons--is a "simply historical document," which does not reflect the drastic changes in the world since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Thus, he said, the Bush administration "no longer supports" all of the thirteen steps toward disarmament outlined in the 2000 agreement and does not view it as "being a road map or binding guideline or anything like that."

For those who have followed the Bush administration's nuclear policy, this position should come as no great surprise. The administration has not only abandoned efforts toward negotiating nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements with other nations, but has withdrawn the United States from the ABM treaty (signed by President Nixon) and refused to support ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (signed by President Clinton).

It has also championed a program of building new U.S. nuclear weapons, including so-called "bunker busters" and "mini-nukes," and of facilitating the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. Only an unexpected revolt in Congress--led by Representatives David Hobson and Pete Viclosky, the Republican chair and ranking Democrat of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee--blocked funding for the Bush administration's proposed new nuclear weapons in 2004. Political analysts expect the administration to make another effort to secure the funding this year."(http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=11&ItemID=7196)


Posted by: lidia at February 11, 2005 01:11 PM

If Iran getting weapons would make it more likely for the US, China and Russia to get rid of them (not to mention France, N.K., India, Pakistan and Israel), then it would not be a problem. But it would not make it easier. If it would make it less likely that nukes would get in the hands of terrorists, then it would not be a problem. But it would not make that less likely. I hope that what Iran says is true, that they are not developing them because they would never use them, and that only their pride keeps them from allowing this to be documented (it might look like cooperating with the Great Satan.) Unfortunately, that doesn't give us much to go on.

Posted by: h2 at February 11, 2005 07:18 PM

GREAT JOB!

Posted by: amir at February 12, 2005 09:31 AM

wmd are just a bad excuse, all they want is the same old thing: rule the world (and be thanked for that, too)

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