As Iran continues to develop its nuclear capabilities in open defiance of the UN Security Council, the likelihood of a war involving Iran, Israel and the United States is increasing.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, continues to put pressure on President Obama and is doing his best to make an international display of Israeli muscle-flexing.
In November 2012, Mr. Netanyahu made his commitment to war with Iran beyond doubt by claiming that he was “ready to press the button if necessary”, and stating that as long as he was Prime Minister, Iran would not have an atomic bomb.
Assuming these threats are real, and judging by the apparent imminence of Iran’s full nuclear development, war is inevitable.
The callous and jingoistic sentiments expressed by Senator Romney and his entourage during last year’s Presidential campaign were wholly detrimental to US-Iranian relations and those who value peace breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Democrats were triumphant once again.
Fortunately, President Obama has not allowed his administration to be bullied by the Israeli government as of yet. However, Israeli militancy is such that the political élite appear to have the power to mobilise whenever they are ready.
Mr Netanyahu, an ex-soldier, has admitted that in 2010 he raised the military alert level to ‘P-Plus’ which indicates impending war. Thankfully, he made a last minute U-turn on his initial decision to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, but we can suppose that blood was close to being spilt.
Throughout British history, people have been duped into embracing popular imperialist sentiment. The demonization of nations which has been known to occur in the mainstream press sometimes resembles jingoistic expression.
The phenomenon which has long materialised in our country has been the fanatical love of one’s own country becoming the detriment of an another – an imagined enemy – once Russia, once Argentina, once Iraq, and now, increasingly, Iran.
What must not be forgotten is that in the event of conflict, the force of war will be felt chiefly by innocent Iranians, already terrorized by their own tyrannical regime, and wholly undeserving of yet more violence following the bitter and drawn-out conflict with Iraq in the 1980s.
Happily, my own experiences of conversing with many Iranians in this country have thus far confirmed my own perceptions of the real Iranian nation. It would be tragic to tarnish the proud Persian people with the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism and expansionism advanced by their Supreme Leader.
Before the Islamic revolution of 1979, the Shah of Persia ensured the country was secular. In 1963 he implemented the “White Revolution” which aimed at ensuring genuine reform, modernisation and progress.
Under the direction of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, Iran officially recognised Israel. He was the first Muslim leader to recognise the state of Israel. Despite the Shah’s obvious weaknesses, most notably resorting to political coercion to retain power under pressure, there exists a deeply-held nostalgia for the secularist monarchy.
An Iranian friend recently came to the UK to study for his PhD and was put through an insulting ordeal by German immigration services, despite having a place at an English university and having a UK visa. Merely wishing to visit his family in Germany, he was interrogated, personally abused and finally refused entry to Germany on the grounds that he might choose to abandon his PhD and become a labourer!
Being an Iranian must not be allowed to become a hindrance or an obstacle in free society. People are not spokesmen, let alone advocates, for their rulers. This is especially the case in Iran where a tradition of secularism, democracy and the highest of civilised cultures lies deeply engrained in the country’s history.
Bombing Tehran will not permit the establishment of Iranian democracy. Equally, more sanctions cannot be justified, as they do more harm to the Iranian people than their dictators. However, supporting the opposition parties who advocate radical change and not simply reform within Mr Ahmadinejad’s regime is a genuine option. The sham election three years ago proved that there is no room for reform or reformist movements under the current dictatorship.
The complete abandonment of theocracy is essential. The only viable option is the son of the late Shah, Reza Pahlavi, who is political activist and promotes democracy and secularism in Iran. A concerted effort by the US and Europe in funding and aiding the pro-democracy groups either in Iran or in exile would be considerably cheaper than war, and crucially, innocent people would not be in the line of fire.
Innocent people will be killed if Iran is bombed by the United States or suffers a ground invasion courtesy of Israel. If the Iraq war taught us something, it was the fact that there is no such thing as “humanitarian war”.
The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.