The age of the empire of influence, Part 2
Another question that is reasonable to consider is whether or not economic sanctions have had any effect on slowing down Iran’s construction of centrifuges for the refinement of uranium. The answer to this question is clearly no. The construction of centrifuges was increased during President Bush’s second term and has been rapidly accelerated during President Obama’s first term leading to some thousands of these devices scattered all over Iran. Economic sanctions have done nothing other than to increase Iran’s sense of isolation and estrangement from the rest of the world while probably doing more to drive the Iranian government to seek regional alliances and an offensive nuclear capability than any other single aspect of our policy in the Middle East. Rather than heeding Saudi warnings of an Iranian drive toward hegemony, we should at least consider the possibility that we and our European allies are at least partly to blame in causing these Iranian strategic policies to unfold. Is it not possible that Iran’s current strategic alliances with Iraq and Syria are due to the severe economic duress that pointless economic sanctions have caused? Does Iran’s leadership not consider its own security and the livelihood of its citizens when it makes decisions?
Since the end of World War II, our policy has been the condescending, culturally ignorant “carrot-and-stick” approach which can be summed up easily as simply, “we’ll give you foreign aid if you do what we tell you to…” I’d be fascinated to learn of major, unequivocal foreign policy successes based on this unenlightened approach. Our other approach can be summarized as ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ which hasn’t yielded much success either.
While Iranian ability to produce nuclear weapons is extraordinarily worrisome (the Iranians probably already possess several warheads acquired from outside of Iran), how is it the prerogative of the United States to tell Iran it can or cannot produce anything? How productive would such a position be in terms or our ability to eventually re-initiate trade and diplomatic relations with Iran? Are we ever justified in telling another sovereign nation how to manage its own internal affairs? The answer for me is quite clearly no.
The age of Pax Americana and the American Empire is past and is no longer even necessary; we have our own overwhelming set of problems right here in the United States that need serious attention. It seems that history has brought us to a moment when we can easily best serve the security considerations of everyone in the Middle East and ourselves by simply butting out and letting the parties that are directly involved sort the situation out for themselves. The results would probably be superior to anything we can achieve through unimaginative, ill-considered bullying. Diplomacy with Iran is not the most reasonable course – it is the only reasonable course. The Age of the Empire of Influence is over.
Charles Levy, M.D., lives in Marietta. This is the second part of the article that appeared in the March 25 edition.