Naïve: Insinuating War with Iran Versus Finding Peace

09/21/2012 06:09 pm ET | Updated Nov 21, 2012
  • Holly Dagres Iranian-American Analyst and Commentator on Middle East affairs

While appearing on a program awhile back, a pundit responded to my claims on Iran's nuclear program with something along the lines of being "naïve on the topic of Iran". Given the short period that was left, I was not able to give a rebuttal. Nevertheless it got me thinking: Who is naïve? Is it those insinuating a third war in the Middle East, or the ones preventing it by all other means necessary?

The topic of war with Iran is not a matter of party lines as some seem to think, but rather a sense of what people see as being right, backed by factual evidence of the contrary.

It was almost a decade ago when the Iraq war had begun, and it feels like the American people have already forgotten it ever happened. Although the Obama Administration claims that the war ended with the last American troops out of Iraq, it does not mean it's over for the Iraqi people. Perhaps it is because there is little coverage of it happening except for the occasional suicide bombing. I'll tell you who are reminded of it daily: the families of the men and women in uniform as well as the Iraqi people who continue to suffer long after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Let's not forget the millions of displaced people as a result of conflict. Sure we got rid of a tyrant, but has Iraq become better off?

Some see going into Iraq as a success, due to the spread of what many deem as a 'democracy, or in fact, a façade of it. If you talk to the Iraqi people today you get a different sentiment then when Americans first set foot in Baghdad. Just the other month I found myself in a conversation with a family of Shia Iraqis in Tehran, Iran. When I asked how they felt about Iraq they had a look of sadness in their eyes, "It's not good at all, but what is done is done though."

Mind that a Shia government runs Iraq, and if they are complaining, imagine what the Sunnis and other minorities must be feeling.

I was only a teenager when the war happened, but I very well remember how then-Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations Security Council to present a case for war on Iraq and how the media spun the story about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction and hiding them from weapons inspectors. It took sometime after we invaded Iraq in March 2003 before it became known that the intelligence we had was completely wrong. Let me also mention that Powell regrets giving that speech now.

Now about a decade later we find ourselves in a similar conundrum, except this time around the 'Q' in 'Iraq' has been replaced with an 'N' for 'Iran'. The stories are relatively similar, but at least this time we have intelligence agencies in both Israel and the United States doubting the possibility of Iran's capability for a nuclear weapon.

I'm not fond of Iran's saber rattling, but let's place ourselves in Iran's shoes for a moment. Your two neighbors have been invaded, not to mention a large number of American bases surround your borders. What would you do? Strategically, the best thing is to find a deterrent to prevent a similar fate for your country, in this case nuclear weapons.

I firmly believe that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, but I am also convinced they would like us to assume so -- a sort of wild card if you will in the game of politics. All this rhetoric coming out of Ahmadinejad's mouth is smoke and mirrors to give the illusion that Iran is omnipotent in what is seen as 'western imperialism'.

Many do not know that when Afghanistan was invaded in 2001, Iran under the Khatami Administration aided the United States in fighting the Taliban and creating a new Afghan government until it was labeled as an 'axis of evil' in President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech. Despite this, Iran continued to offer its assistance in both Afghanistan and Iraq, only to be turned down.

It gets better.

Weeks after Baghdad was invaded, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sent a letter through the Swiss Embassy (The American Interests Section in Iran) making an offer of dialogue which included: "full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups." Bare in mind this was well before Iran's nuclear program became a controversy. We could have finished this then, but no, the Bush Administration preferred to not deal with terrorists. Had they negotiated, I'm sure the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been better off than it is today. Not to mention a hardliner like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have never been put into the lap of Iranian presidency to counter Bush's war rhetoric.

Now it's been a decade and some are scratching their heads in confusion, wonder what went wrong. Not to mention, why would any government budge with policy like the dual-track approach that encouraged sanctions and diplomacy at once? There's no logic in it what so ever.

Having all that's been said, I invite you to consider something. That being against war on Iran does not mean you support the theocratic regime. It means that you believe that war is not the answer and that it will do more harm than good.

Who's calling whom naïve now?