I couldn’t believe I was reading Joshua Muravchik’s column published online 13 March. I just received it in my Kindle edition today. He seriously advocates for war with Iran? This isn’t satire? No, he isn’t trying to be funny. One of the largest papers in our nation — the daily paper of the nation’s capital — ran his argument for war with Iran. You have to take that fairly seriously.
Muravchik argues the only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state is to go to war with them. Airstrikes for sure, ground forces if necessary. In his own words:
What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons? That, in fact, is probably the reality. Ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran’s power to achieve that goal.
The fourth paragraph into his column he invokes Nazism — which we all know is a rather poor rhetorical ploy. But he’s right. Iran’s system of government is based on an ideology. As is the United States’ — constitutional republicanism. (If you’re a member of certain U.S. factions, you believe the country was founded as a “Christian nation,” which is even more clearly ideological). For what is ideology but an outlook upon life?
Destabilizing Iraq was, obviously, going to destabilize the region and leave an opening for Iran. It’s only natural that they try to fill that void. And, supposing he’s correct that Shiite Iran is trying to take over the region — which I don’t buy, though I do believe it wants significant regional influence, just as Sunni Saudi Arabia has — what would make them that much different from us? The war in Iraq was nothing if not, as President George W. Bush has said, an effort to create a democracy a bit like our own. (In result, “nothing” looms larger every day.)
I think he makes a mistake when he equates Iran with North Korea. Iran is a far more open society — it isn’t closed off from the world. Thus, it doesn’t have a nickname similar to that of the “hermit kingdom.” Iranians are modern, though some of us find their legal system and some cultural and religious beliefs to be rather ancient in practice and origin. The ideal of Iran is to function as a modern Islamic state; not a modern Western state. Whether or not that is being accomplished or can be accomplished with sanctions and the current ruling regime is a different question.
He uses Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples of how using force disarms countries of nuclear weapons. Not exactly the best examples, given their current situations.
In the end, Muravchik is willing to sacrifice further American blood and treasure on another folly in the Middle East. Indeed, he urges it. Iran may be an Islamic state, but it isn’t the Islamic State (IS). And it isn’t trying to create a caliphate, as IS has declared to have done. In fact, Iran is fighting hard against the group, just as we are. You know what that means?
A nuclear deal, a rollback of some sanctions, a cooling of tensions may just be what’s needed in the region. We’re already allies with Saudi Arabia. Why shouldn’t we, ultimately, balance our bets and ally with Iran? That won’t happen in the near future, but this deal is a first step.
This is why it disappoints me that you have to have a certain title, letters behind your name or work at the right place to have your opinion taken seriously. This guy is so clearly wrong and knuckleheaded, but the Post will publish his nonsense. My nonsense sits here in the ether — even though it has more sense than he does.