Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obama wins a big victory for world peace and stability; his detractors go nuts

Iran is the most powerful country in the Middle East. It has oil wealth and a large population. It holds a strategic location on the Persian Gulf. Iran's position between the Soviet Union and the Arabian Sea made it a critical geopolitical asset.

In 1953, the US engineered a coup in Iran to prevent the Soviet Union from gaining influence there. The American government believed Iran was important enough in their Cold War against the Soviet Union that they risked war and international enmity to assure that the Soviets could not take over the country.

Sixty years have passed. The Cold War is over. They US did not "win" the Cold War as is often proclaimed. The stalemate between the Soviets and the US simply ended. The US was left with a strong military but their army never went to war against the Soviets. When the US army did go to war, against the Vietnamese, it lost.

Today, the US military force is a relic of the Cold War. Advocates of using military force have been searching for a target at which to aim their bombers and warships. They seized Iraq, hoping next to attack Iran. US militarists, led by John McCain and Dick Cheney, tried vainly to build public opinion against Iran. Americans no longer trusted promises of easy victory and vast treasure.

Barack Obama came to office promising to end the era of military adventurism that began after World War II. He proposed using diplomacy instead of war to deal with foreign difficulties. The country he wanted most as a partner was Iran, primarily because of its history of supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Obama's diplomatic corps worked tirelessly in secret to get Iran to agree to abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Finally, over the weekend, Obama's peace initiative bore fruit. The Iranians made some concessions and agreed to take part in serious talks about giving up their nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from crushing international sanctions. In addition, Iran agreed to help broker a settlement in the fierce civil war raging in Syria.

War mongers in Israel and the US have been using the threat of Iran's nuclear weapons to stop progress in Syria, Palestine, and other Middle Eastern hot spots. With Iran removed as the great bogeyman, these militarists no longer have an excuse for the vast expenditures they have demanded. The diplomatic stalemate in the Middle East, so intractable for so long, has become suddenly less so.

Politicians whose power depends on keeping Iran as an international pariah are scrambling to denounce the peace talks in every newspaper and on every television channel. They have seen the writing on the wall. Their sweet deal is over, or soon will be. Military spending will fall. New weapons systems will be cancelled. Weapons suppliers will lose their contracts. This new peace initiative may have the same effect on the American military industrial complex as the end of the Cold War did on the Soviet Union.

The world is still a dangerous place. We are beset by serious problems. But military force cannot be used to resolve most of them. We need to turn our efforts toward real problems, not fake problems invented by militarists who make money from causing human suffering.

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