War With Iran: We Always Talk On Disarming A Nuclear Iran, But We Should Also Talk On Disarming Israel

There is a lot of attention being paid to a potential nuclear war between Israel and Iran. There is very little talk about how Iran will not strike first. One of the reasons the Cold War ended without a bomb being detonated was the reality of mutually assured destruction. Both the U.S. and the USSR had nuclear weaponry at their disposal, and both parties knew that there was going to be retaliation if the other stuck first. 

The situation between Israel and Iran is no different. Except in this case, the vast divide between continents witnessed during the Cold War does not exist. As such, any attack will have ramifications on both countries (in addition to the guaranteed retaliatory bombings).

The current rhetoric focuses on preventing Iran from having a bomb. This week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting witnessed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking for “red lines” to be drawn, which would ensure military attacks on Iran and its nuclear program. 

The problem is, the calls are for unilateral disarmament. As long as one antagonistic country is entitled to possess weaponry of any kind, any calls for an “enemy” state to disarm unilaterally is going to fall on deaf ears. The fact that the U.S. continues to support Israel’s calls for Iran’s disarmament is only fueling diplomatic hypocrisy.

In order for legitimate disarmament, or at the very least, non-proliferation, to have any chance of success is for all states (yes that means Israel and the United States too) to agree to disarm (and then actually do it). This will not happen. It will be met with accusations of violating the sovereignty of a country and their right to defend their borders

These justifications work both ways. As long as it’s the right of both Israel and the United States to posses bombs, rockets and the various other assortments of weaponry in their arsenals, than it is also the right of Iran to possess them.

Iran talks a lot of rhetoric. I can understand why that rhetoric is threatening and offensive. At the end of the day, however, it’s just talk. While I’m sure there are many skeptics out there, Iran has previously called for global disarmament.

I doubt the U.S. is going to be leading the charge for global nonproliferation and disarmament. The fact that the U.S. has so far refused to cement a commitment for military intervention is reassuring. In the meantime, if the U.S. and Israel refuse to acknowledge the bait the rhetoric will eventually simmer down. Think of the petulant child. If you ignore the temper tantrum, the tantrum eventually subsides; if you feed the tantrum, it escalates. 

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Kathleen O'Neill

Kathleen O'Neill is interested in migration and refugee issues as well as international politics, with a particular interest in the Middle East. She has a double BA in economics and international studies with a concentration in Middle East studies from Washington College in Maryland. She has an MA in Middle East studies and a graduate diploma in migration and refugee studies from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Kathleen has co-authored two short articles published by the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC and London Middle East Institute at SOAS. She has lived in the MENA region for more than seven years.

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