In recent weeks, the Bush administration has stated
its willingness to use diplomacy in dealing with Iran, which is a welcome change
from previous policy. Let's hope it's more than just a change in tone. With
ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costing more than $5 billion per week,
record levels of federal spending and debt, and oil hovering around $70 per
barrel, American taxpayers certainly cannot afford another war.
Iran, like Iraq, is a major source of global oil. For all our posturing, the
truth is that worldwide crude prices would spike rapidly if we attacked Iran.
With summer coming, demand will increase and gas prices at the pump will be
over $3 for most of the nation. Airlines are raising ticket prices to compensate
for jet fuel prices that have nearly doubled in a year. A strike on Iran in
coming months would create serious trouble for an American economy that is already
struggling with high energy prices.
It's time for a foreign policy based on reality, a foreign policy that
serves the interests of ordinary Americans. The reality is that we will continue
to use oil as a major source of energy in this country for the foreseeable future,
and therefore the health of our economy will be affected by the price of oil.
Like it or not, some of that oil will continue to come from the Middle East
even if we get serious about tapping domestic sources.
The U.S. has not used diplomacy with Iran for nearly 26 years, since the hostage
crisis of the Carter era. But this "no negotiation" stance hasn't
worked: Iran's defiant behavior continues, and its uranium enrichment program
has not been dismantled.
Is Iran a nuclear threat? Not according to our own CIA, which says Iran is
years away from developing nuclear weapons. This is not to say we should sit
back as nuclear weapons proliferate in the Middle East. But we shouldn't
allow war hawks to wildly overstate the threat posed by Iran, as they did with
Since 2001, we have spent over $300 billion occupying Afghanistan and Iraq.
We're poorer but certainly not safer for it. We removed the Taliban from power
in Afghanistan much to the delight of the Iranians, who consider the
Taliban an archenemy. Warlords now control the country, operating a larger drug
trade than ever before.
Similarly in Iraq, our ouster of Saddam Hussein will allow the majority Shia
to claim the leadership title if Iraq's election actually leads to an organized
government. This delights the Iranians, who are close allies of the Iraqi Shia.
Talk about unintended consequences! This war has produced chaos, civil war,
death and destruction, and huge financial costs. It has eliminated two of Iran's
worst enemies, and placed power in Iraq with Iran's best friends. Even
this apparent failure of policy does nothing to restrain the current march toward
a similar confrontation with Iran. What will it take for us to learn from our
Government power in Iran is divided, and President Ahmadinejad the man
responsible for hateful comments about Israel does not control their
nuclear policy. We should ignore him as a pariah, and deal instead with Ali
Larijani, head of Iran's National Security Council, who has made several reasonable
statements about the U.S. and shows a desire to have direct diplomatic talks.
Discussions with Iran are not appeasement. On the contrary, dialogue is needed
to explain clearly that America's objectives of nonproliferation and peace in
the Middle East will not be compromised. Twenty-five years of isolating Iran
has moved us farther from, not closer to, achieving those objectives.