A Call for Diplomacy in Iran

From the ousting of the Western-friendly Shah Reza Pahlavi to President Bush’s declaration of Iran’s “evil,” relations between Iran and the West have been troubled for quite some time. Now, with the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program, these relations are going from bad to worse. In his untactful speeches, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has continually challenged the United States to battle, while an American-led air attack campaign is in the advanced stages of planning. The current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations (UN) resolutions are too weak to deter Iran from developing nuclear technology and its militaristic byproduct; but military conflict, which in times of failure was a last resources at best, is not the answer today. Stronger sanctions must be imposed and there needs to be actual diplomacy between Iran and the United States instead of pre-school insults if the situation will ever be resolved satisfactorily. The present will never make sense and the future will be chaotic without some understanding of the past. Iranian -American hostility is directly related to the countries’ troubling histories. Up until the mid-1950’s, relations were in fact quite good. In 1952, the CIA, acting upon heightened American fear of communism, helped covertly depose the somewhat socialist but democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in favor of the Shah. The Shah established a dictatorship and westernized Iran with the support of the United States; his western-friendly regime engendered the same resentment that endures in Iran today. It has been perceived that America had meddled in a sovereign democracy. Jimmy Carter, the first President to oppose the Shah, greatly worsened American-Iranian relations by allowing the Shah to be ousted in an indigenous revolution in 1979. He then caved into conservative pressure by allowing the Shah to seek refuge in the United States, an event which became the root of much current Iranian hatred. Since then, one event after another has led to exponentially worsening Iran relations, culminating in the declaration mad by our President that Iran is part of an “axis of evil.” Military aggression is not the efficient way to solve this conflict. A war against Iran would cause severe American and civilian casualties and needless destruction, not to mention economic chaos. Iran has a strong military, and its leaders claim that America is in for a surprise. Despite whether or not these statements are bluster, it is certain that an attack on Iran would be of much greater scale than either Afghanistan or Iraq. Military engagement would also sharply bolster the hateful Middle Eastern view of America. A invasion of Iran might include operations against Syria and eventually involve neighbors, as Iran would most probably launch a counter-attack on Iraq. If bombardment of nuclear plants and military opposition was unnecessary against the Soviet Union, then why take such action against the comparatively weaker Iran? When did American policy shift from viewing war as a last resort to an easy option? Diplomacy must come first. War may not be the solution, but the current, weak and ineffective IAEA and UN resolutions were compromised to satisfy the opposing interests between the West, Russia, and China. Iran and IAEA have announced a new agreement for cooperation in the future, but it is a feeble one. The general director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, wants to keep Iran in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to prevent an American military strike, but the IAEA is not adequately monitoring Iran. The new agreement allows for ambiguous Iranian compliance, allowing Iran to practically handpick its inspectors. Sanctions and diplomacy must be brought to bear until a more adequate agreement can be achieved. Since July 2006, the UN has passed three binding resolutions to stop Iran from enriching its uranium, but as Ahmadinejad boasts, Iran has ignored the UN. Iran, in fact, wants to increase its enrichment efforts to “industrial scale.” Russia and China surprisingly support economic sanctions on Iran despite their commercial interests in Iran and “if the Russian and Chinese are serious about preventing proliferation and shoring up authority of the Security Council, they should now be more willing to produce a resolution with sharper teeth,” writes The Economist. The point of IAEA and UN resolutions was to stop all enrichment efforts, but the efforts are not working. Mohamed ElBaradei says “It is pointless asking Iran to stop all enrichment work, since it as already mastered these skills.” Other countries have these skills as well, but they do not use them. Mr. ElBaradei claims that it is better to let Iran do its work under very tight supervision, in order to ensure positive application of this nuclear development. The UN, when making hopefully stronger sanctions, should take Mr. ElBaradei’s argument into consideration. Stronger sanctions will send Iran the message that their questionably purposed nuclear development must stop and will open the door to the long term solution, diplomacy. Negotiation is difficult, but it is the only solution. Over the course of the last few years, Ahmadinejad, Bush, and Cheney have all “claimed” that diplomacy is the solution to this chaos. What’s keeping them?