Will Iran’s nuclear capability be an excuse for unjust war?

As the UN prepares to issue its report this week about Iran’s nuclear build-up there is a marked increase in … Continued

As the UN prepares to issue its report this week about Iran’s nuclear build-up there is a marked increase in anti-Iranian rhetoric and military threats by Western nations.

Attacking a country that has not attacked you is unjust. Did we learn nothing from the fear-mongering about nuclear weapons that led a coalition of nations into attacking Iraq, a country that had not attacked them? This is ‘deja vu all over again.’

STR

AP

- In this Tuesday, April 8, 2008 file photo released by the Iranian President’s Office, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran.

Sixty-two percent of all Americans now say the Iraq war was not worth its costs.

Let’s remember that today, before we get drawn into another war in the Middle East, this one with Iran.

The rhetorical build-up has already begun. There are increasingly bellicose statements from Israel about Iran’s developing nuclear capability, and from Republican presidential candidates such as Rick Perry who has said the U.S . should support Israel’s attacking Iran “every way we can” up to and “including military action.”

This mirrors the kind of escalation in rhetoric that led us into engaging in “pre-emptive war,” the so-called “Bush Doctrine,” and attacking Iraq.

Attacking a country that has not attacked us violates Just War Theory; to attack Iran because theoretically it is closer to gaining nuclear capability is immoral. It is an unjust use of force. If that attack is led by countries that already have nuclear capability, is hypocrisy. It will also harden the attitudes of the other countries in the Middle East against the U.S., Israel and the “West.”

One of the supreme ironies here is that one can argue the real winner of the Iraq war was probably Iran, as Mohammed Brazzi, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has done. Brazzi observes that despite President Bush’s declaration in 2003 that “’A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region,’” what happened instead is that “the Iraq war has unleashed a new wave of sectarian hatred and upset the Persian Gulf’s strategic balance, helping Iran consolidate its role as the dominant regional power.”

The “Arab Spring” has eroded Iran’s regional influence, however, and the renewed drive by Iran to acquire nuclear weapons may be driven by Iran’s desire to regain that influence.

An attack on Iran by Israel, supported by Western allies, might or might not be able to retard Iran’s nuclear development but it would serve to raise Iran’s stature in the Middle East once again. It would unite the Iranians against Israel and the West and turn the Iranian opposition from opposing Iran’s tyrannical leadership to opposing Israel and the West. It would also serve to increase Iran’s power in the region as the one country deemed so dangerous to the West and its allies it is attacked.

Is raising the profile of Iran again really in the interest of long-term security for Israel, for the region, and for the world? I think not.

There is also a disturbing anti-religious tone in some of the language of “concern” about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons as in this statement that there are “deepening concerns that Iran is preparing to cross a threshold that will bring the country’s ruling clerics within easy grasp of nuclear arms.

Are the “ruling clerics” of Iran inherently more unstable as leaders of a nuclear power than those of other ideologies? More inherently unstable than the Communists were during the Cold War, for example? There is plenty of instability in political leadership around the world; we need not single out religious leadership as especially to be feared.

Look. We already know what has to happen here. The approach to Iran’s nuclear build-up needs to be increased diplomatic pressure such as China and Russia (and the U.S.) are already advocating, along with international sanctions, inspections and continued observation. Other Gulf States can quietly be engaged in this effort as they too have reason to fear a nuclear armed Iran.

Let’s remember what a disaster the attack on Iraq has been for the Middle East, for Israel’s security, for the United States in terms of blood shed and huge deficits acquired.

Don’t tell me the ‘window is closing’ for military action against Iran’s developing nuclear capability. There are many options still on the table short of bombing and the consequent possibility of another war in the Middle East.

Let’s not support attacking Iran. It is immoral, it is unjust, and it will be as disastrous as the attack on Iraq.

About

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is Professor of Theology and immediate past President of Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Her most recent books are "#OccupytheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power" and, as contributor and editor, "Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War."
  • kvenk

    Great Article…We need more of such writings to infuse into people the real concept of ‘peace’, ‘fairness’, ‘justice’, ‘compassion’ as universal ideals, not in a way they apply only to the U.S and Europe. Destroying the societies of sovereign nations in the guise of ‘protecting freedom’ is the worst act of terrorism and pseudo-imperialism waged by the first world. I am sincerely praying against another war…more importantly for an awareness among the developed world not to support the selfish political leadership and corporations in their evil, violent designs.

  • emross1228

    Your problem is that Iran HAS been attacking us for 30 years. Iran is responsible for more American casualties, both troops and civilians, than any other government in the world. Iran has been the leading support of terrorist groups in attacking Americans, Saudis, Israelites, etc for over three decades. If, for a second, you don’t think that there is American blood on the hands of the Iranian government, you are very wrong.

  • emross1228

    Your problem is that Iran HAS been attacking us for 30 years. Iran is responsible for more American casualties, both troops and civilians, than any other government in the world. Iran has been the leading support of terrorist groups in attacking Americans, Saudis, Israelites, etc for over three decades. If, for a second, you don’t think that there is American blood on the hands of the Iranian government, you are very wrong.

  • Kingofkings1

    Professor, a very logical and practical essay; I was just waiting to see the argument about not only financial loss (to US as well as iraq) as a result of an unnecessary war on Iraq, but also the unncessary loss of life (in thousands for US and hundreds of thousands for the Iraqis. You touched on that, but very very peripherally. I believe for the US there was also significant loss of respect morally in the eyes of the world – perhaps to the point that it can never regain its moral standing it once enjoyed in the eyes of the world. There is more to loss of the superpower status of US to a has-been power that everyone knows the threshold has been reached, but nobody dares point out. At this point, the only predictable US foreign policy is that it hangs out with the western europe and israel as the hip group that looks down on the rest of the the world. Fortunately,the world doesn’t function in a high school scenario.

  • jonathantorrens425

    So your answer is, let them get it and let’s hope for the best? Look at the situation in Pakistan. We have to play ball with a government that largely despises us, because they have nuclear weapons.

    If a military strike could conclusively eliminate or severely degrade Iran’s nuclear capability, you have to pull the trigger. This is a country which actively sponsors terrorism against the United States. Do you have any real confidence that elements within that government would not support providing a terrorist group with nuclear material? Is that truly a chance you are willing to take?

    Military intervention is by far the lesser of those two evils.

  • stovepipejohnsonyoutube

    thanks, finally the washing post is on the right side. thanks again

  • citysoilverizonnet

    Does UN or any other Country has legal, moral and political rights to attack and destroy the facility along with innocent human beings and start another more deadliest IRAN war? UN has been formed to make peace among nations not war. And how Israel? who has the worst and deadliest HIDDEN nukes and has tract records of disobeying UN Security Council Resolutions many times, condemned 24 times by the UN and has occupied lives of 4 million human beings confiscating their land, homes, human rights and civil rights.In what sense IRAN deserves to be bombed and rubbled, only because it is not listening to the USA? And how come Obama can start another bloody war when he has been given a Nobel Peace Prize in advance to make peace in the world NOT WAR!!!! Also, America has used nukes and killed thousands and more are suffering today OR STILL THE WESTERN WORLD IS AFTER OILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL????

  • eati

    You can say what you want but Israel has to defend itself and it will do so!!!!
    It is such a small country compared to Iran and that’s why it can not afford to wait until Iran attacks it with nuclear weapons.
    Israel is forced to act rather sooner then (to) late.
    We should never trust fanatics and stick our head into sand like ostriches!
    Did diplomacy work with Hitler?????

  • niceman41

    So you think that everybody should listen to you (America)? Interesting position. That’s how you distinguish between bad and good countries? Well, not surprising, but anyway insteresting.

  • Kingofkings1

    Why doe the US congress/senate and the western european governing bodies think that Israel should be allowed to get away with the nukes, but not Iran? Which country is holding its citizens and that of another country hostage, and has created a ghetto worse than Warsaw at the peak of nazi power?

  • ccnl1

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? And what drives today’s 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed’s book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no male Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere…………………………….

  • sothatsit1

    Let me know when they get the check…LMAO

  • koza-dereza

    According to the ‘just war theory’, what the allies did in allowing Hitler to rearm was ‘just’. LOL. What a breathtakingly stupid article by Thistlethwaite. Thistlethwaite is ignorant of history and of science. Why is her opinion worth listening to then? She has no idea what she is talking about.

    Obviously Iran cannot be allowed to possess either nuclear power or nuclear weapons. Nuclear power plants can be used to generate weapons grade material or failing that, material for a dirty bomb.
    That fact has never changed, has exised from day one, and did not need a UN report behind it. No Islamic regime should have nukes, and therefore, no Islamic regime can be allowed to have nuclear power. And Iran is not just any Islamic regime, they have been quite straightforward in asserting that Israel should be wiped from the map.

  • Kingofkings1

    In reference to the title of the article: Yes.

    The recent assassination charges didn’t stick; now to plan B

  • mozartiana

    Please ask the W.Post to send you on holiday to Gaza City for a few weeks … send us a postcard.

  • AIPAC1

    hdm_1… Are you done yet ? Are you also a contributor to Fox News too or an AIPAC Member? Geeees… You need to get a life. Despite all of your effort to justify and soften Israel’s image, it is still an apartheid state.

  • MARCOSFERNANDEZ

    Law and Justice are not the same thing…
    Palestinians are entitle to an state that will be Justice…
    For those who read about Goliath and David story, this time Palestinian {David}, pick a fight with a Goliath {USA} that will not be easy to defeat.
    Time will bring Justice to those who deserve it.

  • artbab1

    ” I did not realize”

    lawsuits against Israeli action have been going on FOR YEARS; about land taken, imprisonments, security walls isolating neighborhoods, work permits, etc.

    You have compromised your present comments seriously – what else have you not “realized”?

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