Iran’s nuclear weapon program has been a concern in regard to the global security. This has made U.S, the world’s super power, to initiate a plan of making war with Iran to curtail the program. In elaborating the eminent war, the paper has discussed the historical background of the conflict between the U.S and Iran including the 1953’s Operation Ajax that overthrew Mossadegh in support of the Shah engineered by the U.S. Additionally, the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Shah in preference to Khomeini and the rise of mullahs to progress the Islamic theocratic government has also been presented. The contemporary Iran under Ahmadinejad that has used controversial opinionated pronouncements against U.S and her close ally, Israel is yet another conflict. Moreover, the September 11 and the Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S has been identified as one of the historical conflicts. Lastly, the data from the Film Iran showing the failure of U.S to give accurate information on her invasion to Iran’s neighbor Iraq has also been exquisitely discussed. The paper has also explored the pros and cons of U.S. impending war with Iran, and concludes that the U.S. panic concerning the nuclear weapons that it would pose a threat to the country and her allies is not justified and should not make war with Iran, as the conflict is pegged on the historical broken diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Keywords: historical wars, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, U.S., diplomatic relations.
International concerns with regard to the nuclear program of Iran have reached fever pitch, and there is a high likelihood that a war between United States and Iran is imminent. But what is the Iran’s nuclear program actual status? And what are the main concerns that must be weighed by the United States policy makers in considering this issue? These questions are key in understanding the coming war in Iran. Though the current relationship between Iran and United States is cumbered with tension, for several years the two nations have been close allies. In fact, it is the United States that gave support to the Iranian government in 1960 to begin a nuclear program in producing nuclear fuel (Gasiorowski, 2000). However, in 1979 a revolution occurred which overthrew the Iran’s United States- supported government in an attempt to establish an Islamic Republic (Gasiorowski, 2000). Moreover, during the revolution, the U.S diplomats were taken captive and from then henceforth there have not been formal diplomatic relations between Iran and United States. For several years after the revolution, Iranian government has continually inspected its nuclear program by the help of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in 2003, Iran accepted that she has been secretly developing and incorporating the uranium, which both create nuclear power and weapons (Hornberger, 2008). Though IAEA has maintained that there is no vivid proof that Iran is building nuclear weapons in its nuclear program, United States and other countries globally insist that Iran has the intention of developing nuclear weapons. Moreover, although the Iranian government had maintained that it is only building nuclear material for peaceful reasons, many foreign leaders press that Iran should be obtaining its nuclear fuel from other countries rather than producing them.
The United States reaction to Iran’s nuclear program is embedded on a number of significant issues. The United States has branded Iran as a sponsor of terrorism due to its backing of radical Islamic groups. Moreover, the United States blames the Iranian government of violating human rights against its people during the 2009 disputed presidential election where dozens of people were killed, and United States president, Barack Obama, sharply condemned such activity (Hornberger, 2008). Though the United States as a superpower nation should intervene in the Iranian case, there are some factors that should be considered in its mission. The United States decided to take over the authority and control over Afghanistan and Iraq, which are neighbors of Iran, and some observers warn that United States should learn and take lessons of what happened in the recent past. The United States justified its invasion of Iraq through claims that Iraq had built mass destruction weapons and only to find later that the claims were not true. Moreover, the economies of United States and its allies greatly depend on oil sourced from the Persian Gulf in Iran. Therefore, the United States policy makers should consider the effect of their policies on Iran, otherwise, drastic repercussions might result. This paper argues that the United States-facilitated war in Iran in regard to the nuclear weapons is not justified, and conflict is based on the damaged relations between the two countries.
There is sufficient documentation about U.S.-Iran conflict in the annals of history. It started long time ago back in 1953 and still exists even today. In this section of the paper, the disrupted diplomatic relations between the two countries is succinctly outlined and starts with the overthrow of Mossadegh (Operation Ajax) in 1953, followed by the American response in supporting Shah, the Islamic revolution and the rise of Mullahs, and finally the contemporary Iran under the leadership of Ahmadinejad and beyond.
The Operation Ajax of 1953 officially known as TP-AJAX, was a covert operation facilitated by the United States in collaboration with the Shah dynasty to annex the rule of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and consolidate the power to the dictatorship rule of Shah Mohammed Pahlavi. In 1951, a British corporation (AIOC) controlled the oil fields of Iran and the Iranian people strongly believed that their contract with the AIOC was not fairly benefitting them and this led a political controversy (Gasiorowski, 2000). Mossadeq, who was a member of parliament, demanded that the standing agreement be renegotiated and the Iranian citizens were swift to back him up making Mossadeq their privileged leader. The formerly ineffectual parliament then turn into the running government making the Shah, who had authoritatively ruled as a monarch, to be powerless. Since Mossadeq was supported by the mainstream of the Iranian people, he seemed to be first democratically chosen leader.
Nevertheless, the new government simply meant to be troublesome to the United States. In 1953, there was a wave of boycotts on the Iranian oil, and this made oil revenues to decrease and eventually the Iranian economy declined (Gasiorowski, 2000). In addition, several problems were stemming from the Mossadeq’s rule. He steered the attempt by Iran to nationalize the AIOC, British Oil Company. Mossadeq was also extremely independent and declined to mutually work with the United States, thus, most nations feared that he would cooperate with the Soviet Union, which was America’s enemy. These instances led to a Cold War. There also allegations that the U.S feared that Iran could be taken over by communists and her interest of dominating oil production could be curtailed. As a consequence, the U.S CIA engineered a coup d’état in Iran, led by, Kermit Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson (Gasiorowski, 2000). The main aim of the coup was to return Shah to leadership through protests and bribery of Iranian state officers. The initial phase of the coup proved unsuccessful and Pahlavi was forced to flee from Tehran sine he feared for his life for actively participating in the attempt to overthrow Massadeq from power. The second phase, however, was successful, and the Shah victoriously returned to Iran and rule a 25-year dictatorship regime being backed by the United States. Nonetheless, this ruling was part and parcel of the Savak, a terrifying and brutal police force that infuriated several Iranian citizens and kindled hatred towards the United States (Gasiorowski, 2000). Operation Ajax was painstakingly a resounding achievement until 1979, when the Iranian people revolted alongside the United States Embassy in what was termed as the Iran’s Hostage Crisis.
The capital of Iran, Tehran, was in a condition of revolt on January 1979. The Iran’s ruler for almost four decades, the Shah, had fled the nation. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Muslim cleric who had persistently worked to upheaval the Shah, was still residing in Paris under exile but always vowed to return to his home country and institute an Islamic government. Eventually Khomeini returned from exile and thousands of Iranian citizens took to the streets in cheering Khomeini and denouncing the Shah. As recorded by New York Times, “a great river of humanity flowed down Tehran’s main street today. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the country three days ago, probably forever, the demonstrators again sounded their familiar battle cry ‘Marg bar Shah: Death to the Shah!” (Cohen, 2014 par.5). The return of Khomeini replaced the Iranian secular government with a theocracy system of government governed by Islamic religious leaders referred to as mullahs. This made Khomeini to assume control as a supreme leader of the first Islamic theocratic government in the Middle East. By the end of 1979, young Muslims and supporters of Khomeini stormed the United States Embassy and took a couple of hostages. A total of 52 Americans were taken captive for 444days after the intervention of International Court of Justice (Cohen, 2014). “Death to the Shah” gave rise to “Death to America” and the United States officials knew very well that they had a strongly new foe with the radicalized Iran (Cohen, 2014). Khomeini and other mullahs as well as other spiritual enforcers known as the “Revolutionary Guards” (Cohen, 2014), kept on changing the theocratic system of government for another. In this unfamiliar activity, they literally killed the hopes of Iranian citizens whom in their thinking trusted that the revolution would create freedom, but things went in the opposite direction. Women lost their social gains they have achieved under the Shah regime, and were compelled to put on head coverings and full-body apparel known as chadors. Antagonists were ruthlessly tortured and imprisoned as in the regime of the Shah. A parliamentary democracy only existed on paper, but the absolute authority resided with the mullahs. From Khomeini several other mullahs have ruled. They include Ayatollah Khamenei, Hojatoleslam Seyed Ali Khamenei, and Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami among others. Khomeini, during his rule, used such phrases like “Great Satan” and an “enemy of Islam” to refer to the United States (Cohen, 2014). These slogans are still familiar today and deeply rooted in the injured Islamic and Iranian pride by the United States.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been elected the president of Iran for two terms: in 2005 and 2009. Ahmadinejad rules as a conservative populist promising to defend the poor’s interests, fight corruption, and strengthen the national security of Iran. Ahmadinejad’s administration has been controversial over his opinionated pronouncements against U.S imperialism and arrogance and the description of Israel’s state a fabricated unit doomed to fail (Ibrahim, 2011). In addition, he categorically said that Israel ought to be wiped off the world map. The Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2009 was hotly contested and marred by huge protests that presented a domestic challenge and clashes within parliament after the 30 years of Islamic Republic. There were alleged voting protests and irregularities that led to the death of about 72 civilians and 4000 arrested (Ibrahim, 2011). Though Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, declared the victory of Ahmadinejad as “divine assessment” and requested for Iranian people to uphold peace, despite condemnations from the west and in particular (Ibrahim, 2011), Barack Obama, United States president, sharply condemned such election malpractices. In 2005, Ahmadinejad’s administration converted uranium into gas, a step used in developing nuclear weapons. In regard to this, IAEA conceded a resolution accusing Iran of dwindling to conform to the treaty of Nuclear Nonproliferation and reported the country to the United Nations Security Council (Ibrahim, 2011). The United States has also been consistently following the Iran’s progress of developing nuclear weapons since it is risky to the economic stability of United States economy and the entire world.
In 2001, the United States backed by some NATO nations such as Australia and the United Kingdom as well as their allies, invaded Afghanistan under the strategy Operation Enduring Freedom. America had a primary focus of capturing Osama bin laden, who had been suspected to be the leader of the September 11, 2001 attacks (Ibrahim, 2011). Though he was not captured, the United States military toppled the Taliban regime and also disrupted the Osama’s Al-Qaeda network. Consequently, in 2011, Osama was captured, shot, and killed in Pakistan by the U.S. Special Forces. The Taliban leadership that gave Osama a shelter, however, survived in hiding in Afghanistan and continued to liftoff guerrilla wars against the United States’ forces and its allies.
The war in Iraq consisted of two stages. The first phase was the Iraq’s invasion in 2003 by the United States. It was then followed by a long fighting phase in which an insurgence arose in opposing the present forces and the newly established Iraqi government. Though the United States finished withdrawing its military personnel by the end of 2001, the insurgency is still continuing causing several fatalities (Ibrahim, 2011). Before the war started, the United Kingdom and the United States claimed that Iraq possessed mass destruction weapons which made them vulnerable as well as their allies. After investigation, the United States found that Iraq had long ago ended her nuclear, biological, and chemical programs in 1991 and at the time of the invasion did not have the weapons, which the United States alleged were in her possession (Ibrahim, 2011). Moreover, the United States’ officials had accused the then Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, of supporting and harboring Al-Qaeda, but no meaningful evidence was found to support the claim.
Iran (Is Not the Problem) is a documentary film that responds to the failure of the United States’ mass media in providing the public with accurate and relevant information concerning the attrition that exists between Iran and the U.S. regarding Iraq’s invasion. It is clear from the discourse that the Iran’s nuclear menace is defiant to the international community and further, has a purpose of wiping off Israel from the map as well as supporting terrorism and not willing to negotiate. These claims are disputed by the film, which presents the United States as imperialistic and hypocritical in relation to Iran (TDF, 2013). In addition, the documentary explores democracy in Iran and the consequences of escalation and the possible United States and/or Israeli outbreaks or attacks.
The looming threat from the nuclear program of Iran is immediate and real. It is succinctly clear that Iran is seeking to develop and create nuclear weapons. The United States as a superpower must intervene and act in destroying the Iran’s nuclear weapon production facilities. It is projected that Iran may use its nuclear weapons to attack Israel, an important ally of United States. Iran, as a state backer of terrorism, may support radicalists including Hamas and Hezbollah by providing them with nuclear weapons (Gasiorowski, 2000). Moreover, countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt among other nations within the same region might feel that they also require nuclear weapons to protect themselves (Ibrahim, 2011). The imminent threats should be immediately addressed. However, United States must learn from its past in avoiding the pitfalls resulting from military occupation or invasion. Experiences from Iraq made very negative and uncontainable consequences of having full-scale wars, and the United States top priority should be to end the Iran’s nuclear program and not getting involved in its domestic affairs. The U.S should put much efforts on surgical and strategic military actions to destroy the nuclear facilities of Iran especially those dealing with the development of nuclear weapons. While it may be preferable to collaborate with the international community it is agreeable that time is not on their side, and the United States should immediately intervene in disabling the Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
If the current government of Iran is not dissuaded from obtaining nuclear weapons, the nuclear facility would be a larger problem in the country. Provided the current government is in power, the safety of the world largely remains at stake. The United States is not only threatened by the nuclear ambitions of Iran but also its activities of supporting terror groups in Iraq, Palestinian, and Lebanon territories within the Middle East. Moreover, Iran buttressed the insurgency in Iraq killing scores of Iraqi, United States, and coalition troops (Hornberger, 2008). It has also used frightening language alongside Israel, which is the key ally to the United States. As the Middle East region is shaken by the Arab Spring’s protest, Iran is exploring on ways of extending its influence. Iran has endangered to close the Hormuz Strait; a shipping lane within the Persian Gulf and is vital to the United States and allies’ economic security (Ibrahim, 2011). The United States should, therefore, not undermine the Iran’s aggression and blunt the Iran’s leaders’ hostile intentions in protecting their interests. The United States should use military force to overthrow the “hostile” regime and inaugurate a democratic Iran. Huge protests against the Iranian government in 2009 not only showed that several are dissatisfied, but they were also more willing to put their lives at jeopardy in expressing their dissatisfaction. A democratic Iranian government would be very friendly to the United States and leave to pursue nuclear weapons. Though this may be an unpopular policy with the United States’ allies, but it is required purposely for the world’s peace and security. The threat imposed by the current regime is greater to be ignored, and the United States must take instant steps in addressing the Iranian situation.
The actions of Iran contiguous to its nuclear program concern the United States as well as the rest of the world. But on the point is clear: war will not address the Iranian problem. Instead, the United States should use economic and diplomatic incentives in convincing the leaders of Iran to desist from any ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons. First and foremost, the United States should address the fundamental factors that contribute to the escalating tensions. The United States has carried out an effective and provocative campaign of isolation and intimidation against the revolutionary government of Iran for the past three decades (Ibrahim, 2011). The government of Iran has used the United States’ threatening behavior in justifying its repressive action on the Iranian citizens. The United States should shun from threatening Iran as the military attacks will only exaggerate the problem and convince Iran to resort to nuclear weapons for her protection. In addition, the United States should work in normalizing relations with Iran and collaborate with other countries in bringing her back into the international community. Though this task would not be easy as the Iranian government may be difficult to work with and hostile, but this will be ephemeral, though it remains the only plausible way to halt the nuclear ambitions of Iran. As witnessed in Iraq, in which case the United States’ attempt to change another nation’s government proved costly, problematic to control, and having devastating unanticipated consequences (Cohen, 2014), the case of Iran should be fostered in an environment that will permit the people of Iran to be successfully pushed to democracy. If the tensions between the International community and Iran are reduced, the government of Iran will not be able to use external threats in ignoring domestic concerns. The United States policies in relation to Iran must be part and parcel of the effort of reducing nuclear rams worldwide inclusive of United States. Only through positive engagement with Iran would the world be made to know that the United States prefers a peaceful world.
The United States should not blow a menace out of proportion. Iran’s nuclear weapon is not a scenario of the doomsday that warmongers are creating it to be. The current greatest risk is not that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon, but that the United States will be driven into another expensive war with thin a volatile region. The outcome would be disastrous, and far much outweighs the Iran’s nuclear risk. As per the IAEA, there is no conclusive proof that Iran possess nuclear weapons, and even if Iran were to get hold of nuclear weapons, it would be manageable threat. During the past 70 years, 10 countries have already obtained nuclear weapons, but since 1945 no country has ever used nuclear weapon (Ibrahim, 2011). This, therefore, implies that only deterrence works. Thus, the United States should not panic concerning the nuclear weapon of Iran and its proliferation. The United States, since 1979, has perceived Iran as a hostile country and even labelled her a member of the “axis of evil” (Cohen, 2014). In 2001, Afghanistan was invaded by the United States, the neighbor of Iran to the east, and Iraq in 2003, the neighbor of Iran to the west. Surprisingly, the United States’ allegations of these countries as posing threats were found to be untrue, as in the case of Iran. Moreover, there are economic reasons for the United States to condense tensions with Iran. The United States and her key allies depend on oil from the Persian Gulf, and any instability within the Middle East could destabilize the global oil markets, hence resulting in the oil crisis in the United States and her allies.
The coming war in Iran is not imminent, and the United States panic concerning the nuclear weapons that it would pose a threat to the country and her allies is not justified. The conflict between the two nations is embedded on the disrupted relations since 1953. The overthrow of Mossadegh during the Operation Ajax in favor of the Shah was engineered by the U.S. against the Iranian people’s will, and this formed the basis of contention between the two countries. Moreover, the Islamic Revolution led by Khomeini was to upheaval the dictatorship rule of the Shah and it also led to the Iranian Hostage Crisis where United States citizens were hold captive for quite a long time. This just boiled up the tension between the two countries. In addition, President Ahmadinejad public sentiments during his reign have been against the United States and her close ally, Israel worsening the already bad situation. The United States invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq concerning their allegations has proved futile. Since 1945, some countries have acquired nuclear weapons, but not a single country has used her nuclear weapon. The fears of the United States that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons, she will be vulnerable security-wise is not confirmed and should engage her military in destabilizing Iran in case of being adamant in letting the nuclear program go. Moreover, the Persian Gulf is situated in Iran, and if war occurs, the world oil market could be affected and may lead to the oil crisis in the United States and her close allies such as Israel.
Cohen, R. (2014). 1979: Iran’s Islamic Revolution. The New York Times, A1.
Gasiorowski, M., J. (2000). The 1953 Coup d’état in Iran. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 19, 261–286.
Hornberger, J. (2008). An Anti-Democracy Foreign Policy: Iran Commentaries. The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Ibrahim, H. (2011). New Contemporary History: 19 August 1953 Coup. Iran Review.
Top Documentary Films (TDF). (2013). IRAN (Is Not The Problem). [online] Available at: <http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/iran-is-not-the-problem/> [Accessed on 18th March, 2014].