Last week the hostile-war rhetoric against Iran went up a few notches. Hillary Clinton, the State Department’s warrior princess, declared that Iran is transforming from a theocracy to an outright military dictatorship. Clinton’s statement came after the Senate overwhelmingly voted for punitive sanctions against Iran including denying the Iranian people essential household items such as gasoline.
Hostilities with Iran are nothing new. In 1953 the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government and replaced it with a cruel dictatorship in order to control the country’s energy resources. The resulting 1979 Islamic revolution was a black mark against the subversive and hostile policies of neocons in Washington, D.C. The 1981-88 Iran-Iraq war financed by Washington to arm Saddam Hussein confirmed the suspicions of many Iranians that the overarching agenda is to capture Iranian natural resources and install a puppet government.
Propaganda outlets such as The New York Times, CNN and The Boston Globe ceaselessly propagate the canard that Iran threatens Europe and is likely to launch a missile attack on European continent at some point in future. Then, they argue that we need to install missile defenses in Europe, controlled by NATO, to protect our European vassals. Are Iranians such lunatics that they would launch an attack on Europe for no reason?
Iran represents a 2,700 year old civilization and except for a brief incursion against the Greeks in 545 B,C, under Cyrus the Great, Iran has never committed an act of aggression against Europe. The European Union has seven times the population, 50 times the GDP of Iran, and possesses hundreds of nuclear missiles while Iran has none. The EU is more than 1,000 miles away and does not share any borders with Iran, yet Washington, through NATO, continues to arbitrarily decide who Europe’s enemies are. To date no Iranians, who are 90 percent Shiite, have been implicated in any terror or suicide bombings in Europe or North America.
Iran’s internal and external environment is precarious. Besides American encirclement, Iran’s Shiite population is surrounded by hostile and extremely radicalized Sunni Arabs, Turks, Pashtuns and Punjabis, whose explosive birth rates between 4–7 children per woman far outpace Iran’s replacement rate fertility of 2.1 children per woman. And although the Iranian population of 72 million is young, with a median age of 27 years, and likely to grow to 90 million by 2030, this Shia-Sunni demographic divide between a Shiite Iran and its Sunni neighbors poses formidable long term security challenges.
Iran’s arable land is a meager 10.1 percent of its territory, making it extremely vulnerable in food security and infrastructure. Its dilapidated military and industrial base is increasingly reliant on Chinese money and technology, while its best and brightest people are emigrating to North America and Europe — a persistent brain drain. Recently, Iran’s poor and middle-class have been engaging in mass protests, demanding jobs and a decent life.
Faced with such perilous circumstances, Iran’s theocratic oligarchy has been fearful that its three decades long misrule might lead to an imploding Iran. To channel the Iranian people’s frustration in this encircled and isolated environment, the mullahs fall back to their tried and tested policy of projecting Israel as Iran’s arch foe. They sell this idea as a Jewish-Islamic struggle in a failed attempt to build a grand Arab-Iranian Shia-Sunni coalition against the Israeli “occupier.”
From a strategic perspective there has never been a natural Iran-Israel enmity, unlike the chronically malignant Arab-Israeli conflicts. Iran, which is more than 600 miles away from Israel, never had any historic, economic or territorial competition with it. Yet Iran frequently wages proxy wars against Israel through Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups to retaliate against 60 years of American subversion and encirclement. Israel, on the other hand, does not possess any strategic depth and a large population base like China, India or U.S. and justifiably believes that its 200+ nuclear weapons are necessary to prevent any miscalculation by its neighbors.
Iran also can’t help but feel singled out. Neighbor Pakistan has been allowed to build a vast nuclear arsenal, and up until recently, has been practically running a nuclear Wal-Mart throughout Asia and Africa — all with Washington’s tacit blessing. Recently, an exasperated Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton demanded to know why Pakistan’s state managed media and TV channels feature anti-American and anti-Israeli vitriol almost on a daily basis while its elaborate network of radical madrassas continue to propagate violent jihad against “infidels.” All the while, Pakistan is receiving billions of dollars in annual American largesse, giving further credibility to Iranian accusations of hypocrisy.
Iranians therefore suspect that American accusations are merely a ploy, and the hidden agenda is seizing Iran’s energy resources and its sovereignty to expand the American empire.
If we bomb Iran at this moment, it will unleash massive world-wide energy crises and we will get hopelessly mired in an unending quagmire from Suez to Peshawar. According to Xinhua News Agency, elements in Chinese military establishment have strongly urged to use the more than $2 trillion reserves as a lethal weapon to unleash a dollar crisis to precipitate America’s rapid decline and further destabilize the international order.
Several leading strategic experts contend that we are burning close to a trillion dollars every year maintaining our draining empire. These costs are hidden in State, Defense and Energy Department budgets and are unsustainable and counterproductive to our national defense and strategic interests.
Instead of threatening Iran with war and military strikes, it is time to dissolve our empire and bring back all of our weapons and close to half million troops from Europe, Africa and Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Withdrawal of the American war-machine coupled with banning weapons sales to Middle East regimes except Israel will inevitably and swiftly lead to collapse of Iran’s theocratic regime since it will no longer be able to rally the fed-up masses around bogus anti-Israeli, anti-American rhetoric.
American peacekeeping troops could serve in Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain to secure Israel’s immediate neighborhood, eliminate threats from Hamas and Hezbollah, and patrol the energy corridors in Persian Gulf. A few islands in Pacific such as Guam and Okinawa could be used as remote outposts to monitor and deploy against Chinese strategic weapons and secure a permanent presence in the Pacific. The savings of hundreds of billions of dollars could be used to pay off debt, rebuild our industrial base and reduce our dangerous dependency on foreign credit.
It would be a far more noble and conducive approach for American NGOs to work with liberal Islamic charities and NGOs to promote one-child policy in Southern Asia and Africa and sustainable development through education, health and infrastructure than to pursue warmongering and bankrupting neocon doctrine to provoke and occupy entire regions for decades on end and murder millions of civilians around the world under the guise of spreading freedom and democracy. Europe and Israel’s long term objective should not be some broken centrifuge in Iran, but unsustainable and perilous demographics in their respective neighborhoods and within their borders.
Anurag Maheshwari was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Engineering.