Why Iran Began Its Nuclear Program In The First Place.

With all of the talk about the agreement between Iran, the US and 5 other world powers, one key aspect has been largely overlooked. Iran may never have tried to develop nuclear weapons had it not been for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. That ill-conceived and unwarranted act placed US troops at the Iranian doorstep and, since George W. Bush labeled Iran as part of the “axis of evil”, it implied that Iran could be invaded next.

So if you’re the leader of Iran, what would you do to prevent such an invasion? The most reliable deterrent is nuclear weapons.

Why else would the US not have invaded western Pakistan when we knew that its madrassas were inciting Muslim extremism? (We knew that because we helped create them to fight the Soviet Union.) Pakistan had nuclear weapons and the missiles to reach Europe…possibly the US. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent – the ultimate equalizer.

The threat of our invasion has led Iran to the brink of becoming a nuclear power. Iran will not give up that deterrent without receiving something in return. That’s why the nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and the world powers is the best possible outcome for everyone. The US, Europe and Israel get the assurance that Iran cannot complete their nuclear program. And Iran sees an end to paralyzing economic sanctions.

The agreement has already been approved by the United Nations. It should be approved by Congress.

If not, Iran will become a nuclear power within a matter of months. Moreover, China, Russia and other nations who have their own economic problems will tire of the sanctions against Iran and will resume trading with them.

And what if the US and/or Israel are foolhardy enough to carry out a series of military strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations? That will not only result in international condemnation and make the Iranian people even more anti-US. It will give Iran incentive to quickly rebuild the program and to finance anti-US, anti-Israeli terrorism throughout the region and the world. And the US will likely become embroiled in a war across the entire Middle East.

Considering those alternatives, the negotiated agreement looks a lot better, doesn’t it?

Is It Time To Break The “Unbreakable Bond?”

Following the results of the Israeli elections in which the Likud party led by Benjamin Netanyahu won the most seats in the Knesset, it’s time for the United States to make some difficult decisions. In order to push his party over the top, Netanyahu made a last minute statement that he would never agree to a Palestinian state or a divided Jerusalem. In addition, he created fear among Israeli Jews by saying that the opposition party was busing Israeli Arabs to the polls in droves.

That may have worked for Netanyahu in the short term. But it has most certainly created a long-term problem for all of the Middle East, including Israel, and, by extension, the United States. By dismissing the possibility of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has dashed the hopes of self-determination for millions of Palestinian people – most of whom are refugees pushed off of their land in Israel. Further, Netanyahu has widened the rift between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews by pitting them against each other in the election.

What does all of this mean?

It means that Palestinians no longer have a reason to negotiate peace with Israel. It means that Palestine’s only peaceful option is to pursue state recognition from the world community through the United Nations. It means that the United States will be placed in the awkward position of either continuing its unwavering support of Israel by using its power as a member of the UN Security Council to deny Palestinian statehood or standing up for one of its core beliefs – the right to self-determination. It means that Netanyahu has, in all likelihood, inflamed tensions with Israel’s neighbors, especially Iran. It means that Netanyahu will continue to lead Israel and the United States to the brink of a widespread regional war.

The only apparent way out of Netanyahu’s path toward war is for the US to finally break our so-called “Unbreakable Bond” with Israel.

The voters of Israel have clearly shown that they have prioritized greed and hatred over peace. They have shown that they would rather continue to bully their neighbors and, if possible, the United States (How else could you describe Netanyahu’s speech before Congress?) than give back the land they stole from Palestinians. And they seem to expect the US to back their hard line positions with American treasure and blood.

It’s time for US taxpayers to ask some difficult questions. We should start by asking, what do we get for our approximately $20 billion per year in foreign aid to Israel? We should ask, who is driving US policy in the Middle East? The US government? Or Israelis?

Based on recent decisions by the GOP-led Congress, it’s difficult to tell.

New World Order Paranoia Is Nothing New.

Reports that the shooter at LAX may have been motivated by the so-called “patriot” movement and the New World Order conspiracy theory should come as no surprise to anyone. Fears of a New World Order have been around for decades. Some even believe that our Founding Fathers were part of the conspiracy to create a global government. Some imagine that Freemasons were at the heart of the conspiracy.

Such conspiracy theorists have become more crazy and violent over time.

It was a combination of anger toward what they considered a “tyrannical” federal government, racism and fear of the arrival “black-shirted, jackbooted thugs” that inspired Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Fear of a one world government has inspired militias and other domestic terrorist groups for many years. And, more recently, the New World Order conspiracy has been embraced by the Tea Party, Libertarians and substantial numbers within the Republican Party.

Here, in Arizona, I’m reminded of the so-called conspiracy all the time. Newspapers carry letters to the editor that stridently warn of the United Nations. Tea Party meetings rail against our president who, in their words, is trying to usher in an era of UN domination…ie, a New World Order. They warn of the impending arrival of black helicopters. Even the marginally more mainstream Republican Party meetings often host speakers who espouse this nonsense.

Indeed, the three state legislators who represent my legislative district are UN conspiracy advocates. So, too, is my Tea Party-backed congressional representative.

In particular, these Tea Party parasites…er, “patriots” fear Agenda 21, a UN initiative to make our world more sustainable through such radical ideas as city planning, sustainable farming practices, new sources of alternative energy, forest management and environmental preservation. The tinfoil hat crowd is also opposed to the new international treaty on arms control. The treaty is intended to control the sale of weapons to radical governments and terrorist groups. Yet the right wing crowd is convinced that it will lead to confiscation of their handguns, assault rifles and buckets of ammo by UN troops. Of course, it won’t. The treaty specifically states that it does not impact the laws of sovereign states. But truth and reality have never found a home in the tiny minds of the Tea Party.

Not surprisingly, the people who are most fanatical about the conspiracy are the most ardent gun “collectors.” Many, encouraged by the National Rifle Association and a variety of “reality” TV programs have amassed substantial armories. Such irrational fears combined with modern weaponry will inevitably lead to more violence.