According to the media, war with Iran is going to happen. The death of general Hossein Salami — the man who the isolationist heart bleeds for despite the fact they admit they never heard of him — is going to start a third World War.
Wait, didn’t we have this song and dance before? First Trump would start war with Syria over drone strikes — a common practice — then it was because he was mean to North Korea, then it was because he was nice to North Korea, then it was because he was nice to Russia, then it was because he was mean to Russia — I’m starting to notice a pattern.
Threats of a Third World War have existed since the end of the second one. Back during the Cold War, people thought we would have a nuclear war with the Soviets — we didn’t. Then Bush would start World War Three after 9/11 — he didn’t.
Conversation on Iran has been so nonsensical that it’s high time someone set the record straight. Like normal, I guess that someone just has to be me.
We Will Not Go To War With Iran
Ever since the Iran Hostage Crisis — meaning ever since Jimmy Carter was President — the idea of going to war with Iran has always been in the back of our minds regarding foreign policy.
It’s impossible to deny the idea of being more hawkish on Iran was one of the many ones Ronald Reagan tapped into that caused him to win in 1980. As President, Reagan showed a general dislike towards Iran, but never went full neo-con. He even sold them weapons to help fund the efforts of the Contras in South America.
You have almost certainly seen this infamous image of then-envoy to the Middle East Donald Rumsfeld selling chemical weapons to dictator Saddam Hussein:
These weapons were sold in order to help Iraq better fight Iran during the Iraq-Iran War.
The American attitudes on Iran were often more hawkish than those in DC. This is why the Iran-Contra scandal — the scandal that involved the Reagan administration selling weapons to Iran and giving that money to the Contras — was such a big deal. Americans had known about the funding of the Contras for the entire time it had been happening, and many 1984 Democratic Presidential Candidates promised to end it. However, when Americans found out the money wasn’t coming from them, but instead from sales made to the Great Satan, there was an issue. Overall, a quarter of the country wanted President Reagan booted from office over this ordeal.
During the Bush-Cheney years, a time often noted as the height of neo-con thinking, the idea of invading Iran was on the table — but not much more. Bush did list Iran as one of the four members of the “axis of evil,” along with Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea — but that’s really it.
Near the end of the administration, the White House did talk about Iran possibly getting, or at least trying to get, nuclear weapons. Of course, anytime the UN looked into the issue they found Iran had no such interest, at most, they were trying to create a nuclear power grid, which is not illegal under international law.
This didn’t stop Bush and Cheney from lying about it however. What do you think sparked so many investigations from the UN?
Yet, Iran was never invaded. Currently, former Vice-President Dick Cheney does say his biggest regret was not making the Iraq War a duel war against both Iraq and Iran, but that’s it.
Remember, legislation passed at this time basically gave the President full control over the military — which basically gave the Vice President full control over the military. At any point during the post-PATRIOT Act Bush-administration, which was the vast majority of it, Iran could have been invaded quite easily.
In 2008, the Republican Party nominated Senator John McCain for President, and McCain was as hawkish as it got. He sung about bombing Iran during the 2008 campaign trail, and made it clear invasion was one of his top priorities.
The Obama administration was one that was not all that hawkish regarding Iran — even with liberal hawk Hilary Clinton as Sectary of State, who also talked about attacking Iran during her 2008 Presidential Campaign. Although the neo-conservatives sometimes barked, as they often do, especially after the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2014, that didn’t do much.
Of the 2016 Republican Presidential Candidates, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Rick Perry, and Senator Lindsey Graham all endorsed invading Iran. But why didn’t Bush do such a thing back during his administration?
The answer is simple, Iran is a threat for neo-conservatives, and neo-conservatism cannot exist without it. The fact is, without a dictatorship like Iran in the Middle East, it is impossible for the ideology that we need the United States to fight them to exist.
Remember, politicians are primarily worried about winning the next election above all else. And an aggressive foreign policy, as we saw with the Cold War, is only truly popular when a giant superstate exists to fight.
With that said, it’s quite easy to say we’ve been in a Cold War with Iran for about four decades. We have been fighting them from spreading since the Reagan administration, if not longer depending on how you want to define the modern state of Iran.
To put it simply, if we did not directly attack Russia I see no reason that we would directly attack a country like Iran.
A War With Iran Would Not End Up Like Iraq
There are two idolized versions of American Foreign Policy: To the right, every war is John Wayne’s World War Two, to the left, every war is John Lennon’s Vietnam.
While it is easy to see that Iraq was closer to Vietnam than World War Two — a war against a nation that didn’t attack us (we’ll get to that later) that was overall morally questionable, not because the United States was on the wrong side of politics, but because of the questions it raised about America’s place in the global community.
Joshua Smith, a candidate for the chair of the Libertarian Party, said the following yesterday on Twitter:
20 years from now, 200 documents will be released showing that we were lied in to a war with Iran, and the same people who supported it will ignore them and blindly follow “US Officials” in to another one.
This was a reference to the Afghanistan Papers, which didn’t give us very much new information that wasn’t already easily available. Oh yeah, and it didn’t disprove the main reason we went into Afghanistan — that the Taliban was in control of the government. You know, I would think that wouldn’t take twenty years to prove wrong anyway.
It is a fact that various Iraqis, many of whom were funded by Iran, stormed the US embassy in Iraq. Embassies have been the territory of the country that embassy belongs you for thousands of years, and this is a direct reference to the Iran hostage crisis of 1979.
It is a fact that Iranians have killed many contracts from various countries that have been hired by the United States.
It is a fact that Iran recently said they could defeat the United States in a war — can’t help but wonder why they would need to worry about something like that if they were so peaceful.
The isolationist, of course, is still angry we’re in Iraq. While I have argued for removing the military from Iraq a number of times, they idea we should not even have embassies in other countries is so nonsensical I refuse to address it seriously.
Let’s also talk about why creating a Democracy in Iraq was impossible. Iraq had its borders drawn by the Franco-British Boundary Agreements of the early 1920s before being finalized by the League Of Nations in 1932. The people of Iraq were given no say in where this border was, and it led to multiple religious groups — all of which quite dislike each other — being forced to share a nation together.
The fact that Iran did not have its boarders drawn this way is already a clear sign such an even would be different. In fact, we know democracy could work in Iran — as Iran has democratic presidential elections and has had so since 1980. All moving them to a Democracy would do is move the power to the elected President instead of where it currently resigns — the unelected Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Note: The paragraph above is not me saying Iran is some kind of ideal Jefferson like democracy, far from it. Candidates must still be approved by the unelected theocrats in power, the press is not free, protesters have been met with violence, and so on. However, Iran is closer to an ideal Democracy today than Iraq was pre-invasion, although that isn’t saying much.
In fact, Iran was a democratic state for a number of years in the 20th century. Said democratic state was later overthrown by the US, but you know.
A War With Iran Would Not Be A “World War Three”
For the sake of argument, we’ll ignore how Hossein Salami was actually killing people all across Iraq — most isolationists are proud they had no idea who he was. Instead, let’s talk about just what a “world war,” means exactly.
You would think that explains itself, a war that involves the entire world. The issue is, as our planet — rightfully — becomes more globalized, the idea that conflicts cannot involve the entire world becomes more and more silly.
World War One was called “The Great War,” at the time because no other war had been like it. Before then, wars were fought between individual countries. At most, a handful of nations got involved, but even that was quite rare as most leaders had there own issues.
The main players in World War One were only about nineteen nations. World War Two was really only made up of six sovereign countries — the vast majority on the side of the Axis and a number on the side of the Allies were occupied nations in one way or another.
Compare that to Operation Desert Storm — a very minor war all things considered. The side of the United States was made up of a coalition of thirty five sovereign nations. That means more nations were involved with that than were involved in World War One.
The truth is, World War Three has already happened at this point. As have World Wars Four, Five, Six, and an uncountable amount of other ones here and there. Sorry, you missed it.
For that matter, why doesn’t the Cold War count as a World War? Geopolitical influence of the United States and the Soviet Union was felt across at least six of the seven continents. It would make sense to treat that as a Third World War — and might I remind you, many in that era were calling for a direct nuclear war against the reds.
In a neo-liberal world of international bodies, free trade, and various other global alliances, a “World War,” is going to happen. The irony of the United Nations is it was suppose to be a way to stop such wars — based on Woodrow Wilson’s League Of Nations which never got off the ground — but instead all it did was make those wars easier to win. How that is a bad thing, I have no idea.