Quick question number 1: Why has the United States not taken out Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, with an aerial drone strike?
Quick answer: North Korea has Nuclear weapons.
Quick question number 2: Would the United States have invaded Iraq in March of 2003 if Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them?
Quick answer: No.
Quick questions number 3: What message does this send to the leaders of Iran?
Quick answer: To deter U.S. military intervention, get nuclear weapons!
Now when I say, “get nuclear weapons,” I don’t necessarily mean Iran has to build its own. It’s neighbor to the east, Pakistan, already has nuclear weapons. If the Taliban would retake Afghanistan, then subsequently take over Pakistan, Iran could have access to nuclear weapons without ever making it’s own.
This is why the United States military will likely never leave Afghanistan. The United States is trapped in an endless war, held hostage not by an enemy Iranian Ayatollah, but by the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
In cooperation with the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Canada, China and Germany, the United States signed a nuclear deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting several economic sanctions. It was a carefully negotiated settlement that was working to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions while reinforcing positive movement towards establishing cooperative relations between Iran and the countries who signed the agreement.
But the Trump administration foolishly has chosen the path of retaliation that is propagating more anger and hatred. Its decision to renege on the Iran nuclear agreement is one of a long list of betrayals and disastrous foreign policy decisions. This betrayal continues a decline in stability in the Middle East that was accelerated by the 2003 U.S invasion of Iraq. The pull back of American troops from northern Syria has left Kurdish forces feeling abandoned, ISIS remains a dangerous threat with cells in Libya, Afghanistan and Europe, and the airstrike assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani has prompted Iran to declare its intention to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.
We must also not forget that the Arab world continues to suffer from a massive refugee crisis that has resulted in the displacement of 24 million civilians mostly consisting of women and children, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The long-term consequences of reckless U.S. foreign policy decisions erode respect for the United States and the embattled Trump administration. It will encourage, rather than impede, Iran’s motivation to acquire nuclear weapons.
George Wolfe is Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Ball State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. He was the 2018 Green Party candidate for Secretary of State and in Indiana, and recently was elected Chair of the Indiana Green Party. He is also a trained mediator and the author of The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without War.