Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mythbusting: The Nuclear Double Standard

I know that I don't write about the Iran situation very much, because in truth I am not as well informed about it as I am about other subjects. But I did want to tackle one central complaint that I often see in both Israel- and Iran-related threads.Here is an example:

That one is a bit long but it usually goes something like this: "It's not fair that Israel can have nuclear weapons but Iran can't. WAAAAH!" Naturally, this is based on the assumption that Iran is developing nuclear weapons at all but that's a discussion for another time.
In this post I'm going to try to bust some of the myths centered around this argument and explain why the USA is going through with it's plans against the wishes of some of the Huffington Posters:

1. The UN: As much as it's a logical fallacy the appeal to majority makes a lot of sense here. When the UN condemns Israel, the Huffington Posters take that to mean that "the world" hates Israel and what it does. Should the UN sanction Israel, the Huffington Posters cheers will reach the high heavens now that they are secure that "the world community" feels exactly the same as they do.
In contrast, when the UN actually succeeds in sanctioning Iran, all of that gets thrown out the window. Now the UN has been hijacked by the interests of "a select few" or simply just the USA, and doesn't represent the will of the world. If there's any double standard here, that would be where it falls.
In short, the world trusts Israel with nuclear weapons, but they don't trust Iran. And you can take that one to the bank.

2. Trustworthiness: Another common claim by the HPers is that Israel has fought at least one war per decade with it's neighbors while Iran has never started a war in centuries. This is therefore taken to mean that Israel is a war-mongering and bloodthirsty state while Iran is peaceful and would never hurt a fly. This leaves out some key facts:
1. Israel has never used a nuclear weapon even when threatened with annihilation. They have hinted that they might use them, but never did. In contrast, Iran's leaders like to preach "death to Israel" and "death to the USA."
2. Iran did not start the Iran-Iraq war during the '80s, but their behavior during that war is still worth noting. For instance...
a) After Iraq with drew from Iran, Khomenini declared Iran would keep fighting until they could pray at Karbala and Jerusalem. He also declared "There are no conditions. The only condition is that the regime in Baghdad must fall and must be replaced by an Islamic Republic."
b) Iran's use of child soldiers for mine-sweeping, suicide missions and "human wave" attacks. This indicates a lack of caring about ordinary people that might also apply to a nuclear exchange.
c) Iran attacked neutral shipping and placed mines in international waters. Both of which are war crimes.

3. Other than the Iran-Iraq war, Iran has not been involved directly in any other conflicts, as the HPers claim. However, this ignores the now indisputable fact that Iran has been financing and backing Islamic terrorists from Turkey to Mumbai. If Iran can provide SCUD missiles to Hezbollah, why wouldn't they also provide nuclear weapons? Especially when it wouldn't necessarily lead to a counter-attack on them? Huffington Posters claim that Iran only wants the nuclear weapons for self-defense. Iran's support for aggression throughout the region makes them untrustworthy in that respect.
Note: This is exactly why Israel's enemies like MJ Rosenberg are making such a big deal out of the whole "nuclear deal" with South Africa. Because if they can prove that Israel will sell nuclear material, it means that they can't be trusted with them either. We'll see if it works.

3. Realpolitik: As much as it might inflame the brains of the Huffington Posters, there are realpolitik reasons for the West to treat Iran and Israel differently. For instance:
-Israel, as much as we may disagree with what it does, is not known for it's mobs of people chanting "Death to X" where X is some foreign country. Whether or not that it is a common thing in Iran I cannot say, but as I showed above, it does happen. The West knows that Israel is closer toward a Western nation than Iran is. Maybe that's racist, maybe it isn't. But it does affect how they approach the situation.
-Iran can provide a nuclear umbrella that will cover the region. For instance, the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been stopped if Iran had threatened to use nukes. What this could result in is terrorist groups like Al Qaeda operating from Afghanistan who then hide behind the Iranian nuclear umbrella should America try to take the fight to them. I'm sure some might think that it is good that America can't go around invading countries whenever they feel like it. Regardless, it is in America's interests to have freedom of movement in the Middle East and Asia. It is not in their interests to have a nuclear Iran.
-The surrounding Arab nations have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they could at any time attempt to literally wipe Israel off the map. Whether that is a realistic possibility or not, I am not sure. But as long as Israel has nuclear weapons, there will be no more genocidal wars against them, and the West seems to recognize this. Can Iran really the say the same? Finally....

4. Nuclear Arms Race: Though they won't say it, the Arab nations don't trust Iran with a nuclear weapon. This may have something to do with the fact that a) Iran is Shi'ite while the Arab nations are principally Sunni and b) Iran has often tried by proxy to over throw the government of the Arab nations. Regardless, should Iran gain nuclear weapons it is likely that other nations in the area will try to get them as well.
When Israel acquired nuclear weapons there was a similar fear, but it didn't happen. Maybe the same thing will happen with Iran but again it goes to show that Israel has proven itself to be responsible with it's nuclear arsenal over the past three decades. Iran has not.

1 comment:

  1. Israel can never give its nuclear arsenal even AFTER a peace treaty is reached its with its Arab neighbors. It will still need an "insurance policy" in case they break their agreement and attack Israel. No country is foolish enough to place its life in the hands of another country. India and Pakistan will never accede to the NPT. Why then should Israel?