In response to [Israeli prime minister] Netanyahu’s claim that [Obama’s nuclear arms] deal [with Iran] will develop into an arms race in the Middle East, [Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne] Feinstein said that threat already exists. She said it is not viable in the long term to continue with the option of taking military action or leveraging more sanctions, which she said “generally hurt those who can’t afford a better way of life.” [source: washingtonpost.com 4/5/15]
Are sanctions against a nation whose government is a threat morally justified?
It all depends on how you define morality. If your moral standards include self-preservation and the preservation of liberty and individual rights, then absolutely yes. If your moral standards assume that no one nation or system of government is better than another — and that societies, like the individuals who comprise them, cannot really be either “good” or “bad” — then you’ll probably reach a different conclusion.
Feinstein assumes that innocent people will be hurt if sanctions against Iran continue. This assumption takes it for granted that most of the Iranian people oppose their present government. I don’t know that we know this, do we?
Iran’s government is based upon radical Islam, including Sharia law, which merges religious and state law into one, in the ultimate form of religious totalitarian fundamentalism. This might actually be something many Iranians want. If so, a majority of Iranians, at least, are as much the victimizers and perpetrators as their own government, not helpless victims as Feinstein assumes.
However, let’s assume that most Iranians yearn for a democratic republic of some kind, with church-state separation and secular, economic freedom unencumbered by religious edicts. If true, then the present Iranian government is totally at war with its own people. The people of Iran will want their government toppled every bit as badly, if not more, as the Israelis and (some) Americans.
In such a case, where we assume the Iranian people are helpless victims of their government, then the worst thing you can do is enable that government by making it easier for it to threaten others. The more the Iranian mullahs gain power, the harder it will be for comparatively free nations like the United States and Israel — acting on their own self-preservation — to effectively topple or stop that government from doing harm to innocent people.
Dianne Feinstein is a prominent Jewish member of the U.S. Senate. Because she is Jewish, we’re supposed to automatically agree with her that Netanyahu is wrong, and Obama is right. But Netanyahu is Jewish as well. He is the prime minister of Israel, and has been repeatedly voted into office by a majority of people in his country, people who stand to lose the most by the Iranian government gaining nuclear weapons. Why is Feinstein automatically credible in her Jewishness, while anyone on Netanyahu’s side is automatically discredited? Does race determine truth, or do facts and logic determine truth?
There is also an economically libertarian kind of argument which states that sanctions are always wrong, because they prevent people from engaging in the right to trade. However, a free people might rationally consider the benefits and disadvantages of trading with a dangerous nation, if doing so permits that totalitarian nation’s government to build or use weapons of mass destruction against allies, or even themselves.
Of course, one could also argue that trading on a black market with the underground of a totalitarian regime might actually help the people pull free from the dictatorship. That can be a compelling argument, but first we have to establish whether the people of Iran (the case in question) really want to be free of that regime. Not everyone wants to be free, particularly people who subscribe to radical Islam. Yet Feinstein, Obama and many others simply take it for granted that they do.
Interestingly, this is the same error made by George W. Bush and the neo-conservatives who preceded Obama. They took it for granted that the Iraqi and Afghani people yearned for freedom, and that once liberated they would pursue a Jeffersonian republic. That’s not what happened. They appear to want Islamic states.
Regardless of whether sanctions against Iran are economically or politically justified, Iran is a dangerous regime posing a potentially near-term threat to Israel, and a continuing threat to the free world, given its unyielding opposition to anything free or secular. The government of Iran is the organizing and ideological center of worldwide radical Islam, which is, quite literally, at war with the way of life in the West, the core of which are economic growth and church-state separation. Militant Islam is the ultimate “religious right.” Its spread should alarm left-wing progressives in the United States even more than conservatives; oddly and inexplicably, it does not.
If Western nations, including the United States, were not becoming so weak militarily and economically because of their own turning away from capitalism and freedom, in favor of nanny state socialism and hyper-regulation, then we probably would not have to worry about Iran as much as we do. Let’s face it. If America were not on the slow decline as a bastion of freedom and prosperity, Iran would never be on the rise as any kind of force with which to reckon.
We know that Feinstein, Obama and others are completely in favor of “peace” with Iran, peace in our time and apparently at any price. What if Iran breaks Obama’s agreement? They almost certainly will. What then? Presumably, more peace agreements, which will in turn be broken further. If Iran isn’t really a threat, then why bother with peace agreements in the first place? And if they are a threat, why go through the motions of something they almost certainly will not follow? Obama’s plan makes no sense even on its own terms, unless it’s something other than peace that he’s after.
People are generally swayed by arguments of practicality. Obama, Feinstein and others insist that making peace with Iran is the “practical” approach. It’s ideological to side with Netanyahu, we’re told, and therefore wrong. It’s practical to do “what works,” even if the supposedly practical thing is to do business with people who are known destroyers of anyone who disagrees with them, religiously or otherwise.
Feinstein insists that it’s not feasible to take a military or economic stand against Iran. She might as well be saying, “Let’s just pretend they’re friends.” Let’s lie down and take it, and demand that Israel do the same.
In due course, we’ll find out just how “practical” it really is to evade reality in such an absurd and self-refuting way.
Be sure to “friend” Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1