A never-ending foreign policy issue for the United States seems to be the Iranian nuclear program. Actually any involvement in the Middle East seems to have that never-ending component to it. Do you ever wonder why that is?
It really shouldn’t matter to us whether or not Iran develops nuclear weapons or if they control/influence “four Arab capitals.” What about the 27 capitals under American influence? Exactly how much global clout does the United States need, and in the heart of the Islamic world of all places?
Enough to defend Israel.
This small antagonizing country is beloved by both Republicans and Democrats as the Jewish homeland and “only democracy in the Middle East” and is at the center of most politicians’ thoughts when it comes to foreign policy. It also happens to be America’s sworn duty to defend Israel. This did not happen by random. Only a small minority of Americans are Jewish, certainly not enough to justify the influence of Israel upon our politics. As a fraction of the population, they are electorally worthless in most states. Yet the influence of Jewish nationalism is greatly amplified. That influence comes from highly wealthy and well-connected lobbyists—think Sheldon Adelson—who fund elections and crush political dissenters against Israel. You can easily find pictures of major American and other Western leaders making pilgrimage to kotow at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. There is no conspiracy; the Zionist lobby simply has that much money.
We are in the unique position of having a president whose father and stepfather were both Muslims, and one who is largely condemned by American Zionists. This must be very vexing for them, and the most vexing outcome yet from this situation is Obama’s openness to negotiating with Iran and relaxing sanctions. Israel regards Iran as an enemy, and so we must as well. Throwing divide et impera to the wind in the Middle East, our “allies” in the region consist of Israel and its immediate neighbors, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. That’s it. That’s all we can muster. Even as we are nominally at war with the Sunni jihadists of ISIS, we are unable to ally with their natural enemies and instead must pressure their sympathizers to help us fight them. We are effectively hostile to everyone outside of NATO (including Turkey) and those select countries in the Middle East. So there can be no useful nuclear deal with an enemy in a climate like that.
There is, of course, another variable missing from the equation that most Americans won’t understand. In addition to Israel’s Jewish nationalism, there is also Iranian nationalism. The Iranian nuclear program, to the Iranian people, isn’t just some government initiative. It’s a concept that combines their best and brightest scientists, leaders, politicians and capital that their enemies abroad absolutely hate. They hate it so much they are willing to levy sanctions against the Iranian people and make them suffer materially and economically. How can Iran possibly concede then, and still keep its dignity? The nuclear program itself is a potent source of national pride and dignity, one that represents modernization in the Middle East without Westernization; surrendering to the United States does nothing to replace that object of pride and desire. They cannot surrender it because it matters to them. They don’t care about the money. We only care about the money. America’s nationalism isn’t cultural or ethnic or religious but about an American Dream of becoming rich. That’s the end goal that motivates almost every American. We don’t have an Iranian Dream, just an Israeli sleeping medication.