Monday, January 12, 2009

Tit for Tat

OK. Punching someone just because they hit you is not good. This isn't just me speaking as a (more or less) pacifist. Preemption is an even more dangerous game, as we have found with our Mesopotamian excursion. News this past week makes me think that we earthlings still haven't figured these things out.

In the midst of renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a report was released detailing Israeli pleas in the first part of 2008 to launch strategic strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. The US government refused to go along with the plan, thankfully. I don't think that this news piece is getting enough play. It is pretty darn important.

Tehran makes no secret of its wish to see Israel dissolved - we know this. I make no excuses for the last 29 years of Iranian history. But if we are to figure out how to make progress toward peace in the Middle East and beyond, we're going to have to look at the reasoning behind the rhetoric. Iran is calling for action against Israel, who is calling for action against Iran. It's not like Tel Aviv is just thinking about doing something drastic - their attack plans are drawn up and they have asked Washington for flyover privileges in Iraq.

I'm not going to get involved in arguing about who threatened who first, or in what context such a thing would have happened, but when I see our Congressional leadership and other elected officials repeatedly stressing Israel's right to defend itself, why is there no recognition of the abject fear than many Iranians have of Tel Aviv? Does a right of self-defense not extend to states that far east?

I'll caveat everything that I've said here by noting that my studies are in democratization and religious/political identity. I have precious little coursework or reading background in security strategy and preemption theory. I am, however, a historian at heart, and I see our policymakers giving the historical record either too much or too little weight. Let's have some more conversation about his, shall we?