US moralising over Iran must be ignored

The West has a new devil. Rarely does a day pass by without a politician, defence expert or some other notable predicting apocalypse if the West fails to halt Iranian development of nuclear weapons. In pursuit of avoiding catastrophe, the governments and population of the West have united in an attempt to force the Islamic republic to disavow its nuclear arms programme. These attempts have involved widespread economic sanctions as well as the threat of future military action (covert military actions have probably already occurred).

However, whilst the notion of non-proliferation is one to be admired, the West risks harming the innocent civilians of Iran most, potentially stunting the future growth and progress of Iran. Furthermore, the West – maker, holder and user of the nuclear bomb – is actually in no position to be questioning the right of any country to a weapon that we ourselves refuses to relinquish. The premise of western attacks is that a nuclear armed Iran would be a threat to world security, but the truth is that the West has no reason to believe that Iran is more likely to use the bomb than for example the US, the only country to have used a nuclear bomb in history.

Firstly, the economic sanctions appear to be achieving all the wrong things in Iranian society. Designed to push the Iranian economy to the brink of collapse and thus forcing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Tehran cronies to bend to the will of the US and their allies, the economic sanctions, including trade bans on companies, are instead ruining the lives of ordinary Iranians. The UK Foreign Office says that economic sanctions against Iran “are not intended to affect humanitarian goods and payments”, yet Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general has warned the UN that sanctions are indeed affecting the effectiveness of humanitarian work. The Foreign Office goes on to say that the economic problems being heaped on the Iranian people are down to the economic mismanagement of the Iranian government, a claim that would be more believable were western powers not blockading the country to the point where Iranians struggle to acquire medicine. Western sanctions therefore are not affecting those at the top of the Iranian regime and are instead punishing the innocents within Iran. Western sanctions must be either stopped or retrained to those at the top of the regime not the innocents currently being harmed.

A further problem with western action against Iran is that the West is in no position to be moralising about the striving of other countries to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. The West is the main holder of nuclear weapons: the US alone has a total of 8,000 nuclear warheads, and the question arises as to why they feel that they are worthy of presiding over weapons designed to inflict mass killings whilst telling regimes in Iran and North Korea that they are not worthy of access to nuclear weapons. Claims that Iranian promises to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ prove that they simply cannot be trusted with weapons, yet the US continues to back Israel’s holding of officially undeclared nuclear warheads despite the volatility of the region as a whole and Israel’s continued threats towards Iran and the Arabian population of the Middle East.

The truth is that the US is presuming itself to be the world’s leading moral nation, when in actual fact it is merely the world’s leading superpower, a position which gives the it the ability to label itself as a kind of moral dispenser of justice (and in this case nuclear weapons). Actually, the US is the only country in history to have deployed nuclear weapons, unleashing hell on the Japanese population at the end of World War Two, and this alone means that the US is not fit to be the world’s authority on who should or should not hold nuclear warheads.

Whilst we can all hope for a nuclear weapons free world, the truth is that a nuclear-free utopia is simply not going to be achieved anytime in the near future. However, whilst nuclear weapons and nuclear politics continue to plague the world, the US cannot be allowed to continue to act as the moral voice in global affairs, because US foreign policy is immoral. The West therefore must detach itself from America’s global voice and back calls for the scaling down and permanent riddance of nuclear stockpiles rather than arbitrarily deciding who may or may not have nuclear weapons.

BY: Tom Hollywood