Iran and Ron Paul – Time for Fresh Thinking

In listening to last week’s debate in Iowa, the general attitude seemed to be to attack Iran to stop them getting “the bomb”. The sole voice against was Ron Paul, citing recent history such as our 1953 overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government, related blowback that led to the 1979 revolution and regional realities.
The reality for the other GOP candidates for President is that a position to attack Iran to prevent the regime there from building “the bomb” is very likely to result in the opposite. In a nutshell, the regime in Iran is likely to want to hear more such saber rattling from potential post-Obama presidents. Such talk provides abundant material for the Iranian regime to propagandize its people about the “Great Satan”. Even more importantly, Iranian physicists, engineers, chemists and metallurgists would be more readily browbeaten into developing an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Basically, what other GOP candidates offer is more of the same. Recall, too, that we emboldened and backed Saddam Hussein to attack Iran. Talk to Iranians and a great many will tell you that this ensured that, hardly surprisingly, people rallied to repel the Iraqi invasion and allowed the post-‘79 Iranian government to cement itself in place. A great many of the key demonstrators against the Shah found themselves again in jail – even executed – after the revolution. So why would we expect an attack to be anything other than counter-productive for long-term national security?
So what should we do? To borrow a title from one of Dr Paul’s books we should adopt “A Foreign Policy of Freedom”. As we have done with the likes of Vietnam and China, we need to take a completely new tack. More of the same will simply not work. Expecting a different outcome would be madness. We need to look to offer the opportunity to develop friendship; if not with the regime itself then by by-passing it and by going directly to the Iranian people, the young and educated are clearly hurting under the existing regime; particularly women. This will make it all the less likely the Iranian government can propagandize its people and all the more likely that they can eventually succeed in overthrowing the current theocratic regime. Secondly, it’s extremely hard for Iranians to get visas to come to America to study and do research. Even when it rarely happens, our consular staff will not think twice about denying a visa for the person’s spouse. (Canadian academics love this as they have virtually no competition when it comes to attracting some of Iran’s brightest young scientists and engineers). Make sure Iranian scientists and engineers can have the opportunity to come here to pursue research, build bridges through scientific collaboration. That will make it even less likely that the fundamentalists can browbeat their brightest into building them their bomb.
After almost 60 years of failed policies being applied to Iran, it is time for fresh thinking.

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