There are two areas of the world where many people in many countries believe catastrophic wars are becoming increasingly likely: Iran and North Korea. Iran has been a near boiling teapot ever since the disastrous Bush invasion of Iraq catapulted Iran into being the lone Moslem superpower in the area. Prior to the destruction and dismemberment of Iraq, it had been a check on Iran’s hegemony. Trump has managed to make this problem much worse by de-certifying the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions. Iran, like North Korea, view the development of nuclear weapon capability as a guarantee against regime change – a defensive last resort against what they perceive as American interest in destabilizing the regime. The concern is certainly valid. Here are the historical and contemporary reasons why Iran has sought to develop a nuclear weapon.
We could start in 1953, when the U.S. engineered a coup to oust the democratically elected Mohammed Mossaddegh. The reason why the U.S. overthrew the legitimately elected Prime Minister is that he threatened to nationalize the oil industry threatening profits of U.S. and British Oil Corporations. We installed the Shah, whose brutal and despotic rule alienated much of the population by the mid-seventies. Then came the storming of the U.S. Embassy which, among other things, revealed secret documents detailing the U.S. complicity in executing opposition leaders, mostly Muslim Clergy. Since then, there has been a constant state of hostility between us, including proxy wars using Iraq and other Sunni Muslim countries to oppose the rising power of Iran. Iran’s concern that the U.S. will try to cause regime change is valid based on history since 1953.
Contemporary causes of hostility include the significant expansion of Iranian influence ever since the U.S. essentially destroyed Iraq, the only power in the region with the financial and population capacity to oppose them. Iran now controls the politics of Iraq and has military units operating openly in Iraq, attacking the U.S. allied Sunni and Kurdish militia. Iran now also controls a significant part of Syrian territory and political influence in Lebanon, and has been fighting a proxy war in Yemen. They also fund a number of terrorist organizations that have successfully targeted our European allies. Israel’s Prime Minister has been openly calling for a military strike on Iran for years, and in Trump seems to have found an ally.
The prevailing speculation among our allies is that Trump is making the Iran agreement a domestic political issue, which is doubly disturbing for them. Even members of Trump’s administration agree that Iran is complying with the agreement, which however flawed it may be in many regards, has stopped the development of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The refusal to recertify and refer to Congress has destabilized the situation, however the radical Mullahs in Iran seem to have responded with restraint to Trump’s decision, which says more about the President than it does about the crazies in Iran. If Congress acts as irresponsibly as Trump and ends the agreement, then Iran will no doubt have a nuclear weapon in 2 to 3 years, our allies will be further alienated, no country will be able to trust any agreement with the U.S., and Israel has already declared that they will go to war rather than allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
Secretary of State Tillerson may have been correct in his assessment of Trump’s intellectual capacity, and we may well be heading towards a catastrophe as Senator Corker of TN has publicly warned. In this recent development even our own allies believe that the U.S. is the problem that makes war more likely.