This past week, Americans had explained to them that, in fact Rush Limbaugh is a chauvinistic pig and that Ohio is really, really, really important in presidential politics. This “breaking news update” probably helped those who spent the past few decades in a coma, but for the rest of the population it did little to inform on the state of the country.
One piece of news, however, that was noteworthy, but went widely unreported (at least its implications) was a small interview–and subsequent fallout from–Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey gave to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria about the Islamic Republic of Iran.
When asked about his views of Iran, Dempsey responded that, “We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.” He has since gone on to elaborate that he, as well as many others in the Department of Defense, believe diplomatic channels, as well as economic sanctions, will be able to peacefully solve the current dilemma. This dilemma is of course the issue of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
It is perhaps unfair to say that the media did not cover this story at all. In fact many jumped on the story, like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who believed that since the General had implied Iran is “rational” he should be fired. Republican politicians too joined in criticizing General Dempsey.
It is fascinating to see that by stating Iranians are people who can be reasoned with you commit some form of heresy. This should come as no surprise though. If the GOP and war promoters in the media are to be successful there can be no established opinion that Iran can be dealt with peacefully. Once people admit that a peaceful solution is possible the drum beat of war loses much of its inevitability.
It was this significant piece that went unnoticed by the media.
If any of this seems familiar, it should. For decades policy makers and media talking heads made the case that Iraq was too dangerous. That its leaders could not be reasoned with. That violent conflict was the only way in which American foreign policy goals could be reached.
This did not mean the first time someone was marginalized for suggesting peaceful solutions with Iraq the U.S. went to war. What it did mean was that over the years it became increasingly inevitable a conflict would occur. By the time that September 11th came about, it was not difficult for the Bush Administration to successfully make the case for an Iraq invasion.
Iran too, carries the same potential.
The criticisms of peaceful solutions with Iran are usually of two kinds. The first is that since it is a tyrannical regime, the U.S. cannot possibly work with the government. Odd, considering Saudi Arabia and China, not exactly bastions of civil liberties, have enjoyed strong alliances with the U.S. for years.
The second is that Iran is illogically aggressive towards the nation of Israel. The quotes from various leaders of the Iranian government encouraging violence are used by right-wing hawks as undeniable proof that Iran cannot be reasoned with.
If we are to carry this to its logical conclusion then we must admit that Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney are fair game for the Iranian government. These men have repeatedly called for the overthrow of Iran, the bombing of Iran, and in Mr. Santorum’s case, the applause over the murdering of an Iranian scientist.
How is this any different from what Iranian politicians have done?
The truth is heated rhetoric between nations can lead to death, violence, and destruction. Instead of chastising a general who has the courage to admit the unpopular, we should be applauding him.
It has recently been made known that on his visit to the United States last week, while the American people debated Rush Limbaugh’s sexism, and who after Ohio’s primary would lose less to President Obama in November, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested stronger weapons for an attack on Iran.
Where we go from here is unknown. Hopefully it is towards the belief that diplomacy and appeals to rationality are not things to shun in international politics.