America—the United States of—was founded on an awe-inspiring belief: “We the people.” We—with no qualifiers. All of us. At our country’s inception, this was not true, but words have power, and that power compels many of us to continue to believe in our possibilities. I cling to Langston Hughes' poetic hopes--"Let America be America again, the land that never has been yet and yet must be."
There are those who proclaim American Exceptionalism, and they condemn anyone who discusses some of our historic failures as being less than patriotic. Supposedly, we do not love America as much as they do. Does our love of country need to be blind? How then is any country to become all that it can be if its citizens are oblivious to its faults? How can our country rectify historic wrongs if we pretend not to see them?
Let us then engage in some serious introspection about the consequences of Western actions in the Middle East. (The term Middle East was not widely used until after World War I to describe the area of Northern Africa and the Arab states, but at that time, it was to separate that area from the Far East and the rest of Africa.) When we study the unintended consequences of Western actions in this area, we cannot be surprised that many in the Middle East regard Westerners—sometimes particularly the U. S.—as nations meddling where we don’t belong and/or as oppressors. We do say that we want peace in the Middle East, but our words and actions often seem to contradict this. There are exceptions, but in general, Western powers have done more harm than good whenever we/they took on a superior or paternalistic role in--or attitude about--this area. After all, colonial powers did draw lines on a map after World War I to create new nations, but the cultures in these areas are ancient, not new. Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are among those nations created on paper, but Iran—formerly Persia—remains in essentially the same place as it has been for centuries.
We need to remember that history, especially since the neo-Cons who started a war with Iraq by choice and on bogus intelligence are now telling us not to consider talking to Iran about their nuclear capabilities. The Powers that Be took the neo-Con advice about Iraq. That was disastrous. Why are those people even talking now? More importantly, why is anyone listening? After we could not find the non-existent WMDs, the not-war, rather an "operation," became all about a democratically elected government in Iraq. Rumsfeld was totally shocked that a Shiite majority won, even though he could have found out that Shiites--who had been oppressed by Hussein and the Sunni minority--have outnumbered Sunni in Iraq forever, had he checked. Then Bremer disbanded Hussein’s Sunni army, and they became the insurgents. There wasn't an al Qaeda in Iraq when we started the war, but there was an al Qaeda in Iraq during and after. Petraeus, the general to end all generals, used the Sunni for a bit, and then that was over. So now, they've morphed into ISIS/L. This disaster is a direct result of our ill-informed, ill-considered actions when we marched into Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who “gassed his own people.” (When the G. W. Bush administration said that, they hoped we’d forget that the gassing of his own people occurred while we were allied with Iraq against Iran.)
And now Iran is a worry of ours, a worry that Iraq—with Hussein in charge—had kept in check. Get a grip people. We cannot magically wipe out the reality that Iranian scientists already know how to make nuclear weapons and, that in time, they can produce a nuke. Given that, why is it a bad idea to negotiate to delay this as soon as possible? McCane and his “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” gang seem determined not to talk to Iran. Forty-seven GOP Senators even went so far as to write a letter to the Ayatollah of Iran, telling him not to trust any deal with us. Why are they--and some Democrats--so intent on our not working with other nations alongside the Obama administration in attempts to avoid war? We finally have many of the globes’ powerful nations—Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany—working together to lessen the threat of increased nuclear proliferation. And this is a non-starter? Why?
Going to war with Iran is a very bad idea. Lest you have any doubt about this, check out some of these facts.
Compare the areas--Iran: 636,400 sq. miles to Iraq: 168,754 sq. miles. Compare the populations--Iran: 81 million people to Iraq: 36 million people. Look at the difference in percentages of Sunni and Shiite Muslims in each country. Iran is 90 percent Shiite and about 9 percent Sunni. Iraq is 60-65 percent Shiite with 15-20 percent Sunni. There are Christians and Jews in both areas, but other religions are a very small part in either country.
Add to these facts that Iran is one of the globes’ oldest civilizations (Persia—224 AD). Iraq was carved from Mesopotamia and drawn on a map by the League of Nations in 1920 after the demise of the Ottoman Empire. It only became independent in 1932. The geographic identity of Iranians is centuries old; Iraq is a much newer nation. Think about these facts, and you can see that fighting with a much larger country with more people might deserve some critical thinking before rash acting.
Just touting American Exceptionalism and saying USA! USA! does not excuse us from being rational when we make decisions that have far reaching, life or death consequences. Before we barge headlong into a war we might just be able to avoid, think détente, all you Reagan lovers. And do study your history and the facts as well as recall the events of the Second Gulf War—as we now call Operation Whatever. (Congress will not and has not declared war since World War II. Our police actions or conflicts or operations are only called war after we finish them.) War with Iraq was far from a promised cake walk, and that mission is far from accomplished. The tragic deaths and life-long repercussions for the men and women who fought for us there deserve our best. They deserve to believe that we do not ask so much of them without considering the cost to them and their families. Now Iran? Dear Congress: Please think before you shoot off either your mouths or the guns.