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Nuclear war with Iran too costly for Americans, Iranians

Author Gore Vidal has called this country the United States of Amnesia because decisions made by the American government often seem divorced from a memory of history. One example of this was the lead-up to the latest U.S. invasion of Iraq, which many people said would bear similarities to the U.S. war on Vietnam.

While there are many clear differences between the war against the peoples of Vietnam and the war in Iraq, the similar idea is that the people of a country will do whatever it takes to fend off the aggressive invasion of their country by a superpower, no matter what the apparent odds.

But now it seems Americans can’t even remember 2003 as the Bush administration is threatening to attack Iran. Iran has a much stronger military than Iraq, which had been devastated by a decade of sanctions. If the United States were to attack Iran, it is likely the results will be similar to what’s happening in Iraq.

Iran has recently enriched uranium, which is a necessary component for nuclear weapons the country has threatened to develop in the future. In response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Pentagon presented a plan to the White House that includes “the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon … against (Iran’s) underground nuclear sites,” according to an article in The New Yorker by Seymour Hersh.

There’s nothing “tactical” about a weapon of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons kill innocent people indiscriminately. Two years ago, I completed a pilgrimage to the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in order to see the destruction the “leaders” of my country wreaked on the people of those two beautiful cities. It’s impossible for me to conceive that with all Americans know about the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of victims in August 1945, there are still people in the United States of Amnesia who would consider ever using nuclear weapons. If the option of nuclear war is unleashed, innocent Iranians will die.

And there would be consequences for other countries, as well. Iran has 40,000 trained suicide bombers who are prepared to strike at American and British targets if attacked, according to the Sunday Times of London. Attacking Iran will make Westerners less safe.

Iran is seeking or threatening to build nuclear weapons for two reasons. Examining those reasons will put the world community into a better position to ensure Iran does not become a nuclear power. One reason is that Iran may fear a U.S. invasion and occupation similar to that of its neighbor, Iraq. Iraq was invaded because it did not have the ability to fight back. Iran sees obtaining a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against invasion by the United States.

The second reason is that Iran’s regional neighbor, Israel, is already in possession of nuclear weapons. Iran and Israel have been waging a war of words recently, with speculation that Israel may launch an air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran sees obtaining nuclear weapons as a way to counter the regional nuclear power of Israel.

The goal of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is the eventual eradication of all nuclear weapons. A good place to start is the volatile Middle East. It is likely Iran will abandon all talk of obtaining a nuclear weapon if there is a complete nuclear ban throughout the Middle East. Therefore, Israel, which already has the region’s most dominant conventional military arsenal, should do its part by dismantling its nuclear cache and opening its facilities to full inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Invading a country that has not attacked and poses no imminent threat is illegal under international law and the U.N. charter. The United States should not attack Iran; the Bush administration already has enough blood on its hands. There are diplomatic resolutions to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Let’s hope the war criminals in Washington come to their senses before getting the United States into another futile quagmire in the Middle East that breeds even more terrorism.

Seán Kinane is a doctoral candidate in biology.