As the United States is only just beginning to pull away from its military exploits, many politicians, particularly Republicans running in the primaries, are calling for military action in Iran. This is due to increased concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. While there is no concrete evidence that Iran has even begun work on a nuclear weapon, an apprehensive Israel is pressing Western nations, particularly the United States, to support it if it decides to seek military action against its neighbor.
Nuclear armaments are perhaps the most controversial subject in foreign policy, and in the twenty-first century, the focus of our containment is the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
According to the New York Times, following several inspections in November of 2011 in which inspectors informed the U.N. that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” the United States and Europe imposed further restrictions of Iran. These constraints included banning Iran from the international financial system, as well as cutting off companies invested in Iran’s nuclear prospects, including Iran’s petrochemical and oil industries.
However, in the wake of financial collapse, Iran has threatened to place embargoes on its oil sales in Europe, as well as target Israeli’s in Iran. This prompted action from pro-Israeli groups in the U.S., chiefly Aipac, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Aipac has engaged in talks with both President Obama and 2012 Republican candidates on the issue of protecting Israeli interests.
2012 Republican candidates have taken a strong position on what they believe is the best way to deal with the possible Iranian threat. Most, if not all the candidates have called for military action against Iran, criticizing President Obama’s policy of “diplomatic and economic sanctions” to weaken Iran.
Nevertheless, President Obama’s reluctance to seek further action is justified by his unwillingness to make the same mistake as his predecessor, George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq on the false basis that the country was harboring nuclear weapons.
On March 5 the president met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the prospects of American military involvement. It is not their first meeting on the subject, and the main division between the two countries continues to rest on their individual concerns. The primary underlying reason Israel is troubled by Iran can be found in longstanding tense Iran-Israel relations since the Iranian Revolution; Iran has cut off all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel and does not recognize the country as a sovereign state, preferring instead to refer to it as a land occupied by terrorists.
It is clear that tensions with Iran and discussions with Israel will be a large part of presidential policy in the coming months, especially considering Israel’s eagerness to act quickly. Countries will take their sides, whether militarily or morally, and President Obama will remain in the spotlight as pressure mounting from all angles attempts to impel him down a path that may or may not be for the good of our nation.