Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Another Look at the Iran Nuke Crisis: The Boys, Their Toys, and the Rest of Us

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey

NEW YORK (LCNP) March 2006 - I'm probably not the only one to make this observation, but it does seem to me that the conflict over the Iranian nuclear policy is rooted, at least to some extent, in the male-centered, pseudo-phallic gamethink of "mine is bigger than yours" being played out, to possibly tragic consequences, by Presidents Ahmadinejad and Bush.

While issues of global security, terrorism, national sovereignty, and regional stability are thrown around by both parties as arguments against the other, all of this seems to be, in the final analysis, a geopolitical "pissing contest" between the Number One global imperial nuclear bully and the Third World upstart who wants to come onto the playground and get props for having the requisite technology to play in the big game.

But for all the reasons that we know, it's a no-win situation for the people of Iran, the people of the Middle East, the people of the USA, and ultimately, all of humankind.

Why no-win? Because if Bush "wins" by forcing international sanctions (or God forbid, a US invasion) on Iran, Tehran's inevitable response will be resistance and counter-attack. Thousands, and even millions, of combatants and noncombatants on both sides would perish.

And if Mr. Ahmadinejad somehow wins by avoiding (at least in the short term) either United Nations sanctions or a US attack, he's still stuck with an environmentally dangerous technology, and (if he goes for the weapons option), an imminently target-able nation made vulnerable to attack from both the United States and Israel.

All this is typical of the binary, win-lose paradigm that men put on the table of virtually every conflict. But it is a dysfunctional way of thinking that places us all in grave danger.

Forget Tel Aviv's 200 or so nuclear warheads in the Dimona facility. Forget, even, the 8,000 thermonuclear weapons in the United States arsenal. The best way for Iran to neutralize these weapons in any form of retaliatory attack is not to give either nation the made-to-order pretext to use them.

Sure, there may be some cockeyed Strangelove-ian "prestige" in having the technology to process uranium ore into nuclear fuel or nuclear warheads. But it is the prestige of fools. The deadly effect of this technology -- even when atomic explosions don't happen -- is awesome legendary (ask the Shoshone indigenous people in Nevada, or the Marshall Islanders, about the impact of nuclear testing and nuclear waste storage on the cancer rates of children in those places).

Does the President of Iran know this? He should. He must. And he should know, too, that the enormous cultural prestige of the Persian people greatly exceeds any ephemeral glory that might come from Iran's capacity to join the dangerous, foolish, and unholy community of nuclear weapons states.

Others will have their nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Let them. Because, as a Muslim, President Ahmadinejad should know that the Qur'an of Islam exhorts believers to compete in acts of charity and goodness and mercy, and not acts that lead to mutually assured destruction. And in that light, I would invite both the Iranian and American presidents to see the 1980s movie War Games, and note the wise words of the WOPR war computer at the end of the film: "The only winning move ( in the nuclear war game) is not to play."

Nuclear weapons are, quintessentially, male weapons. They are manufactured, deployed, tested, and even used, in ways that virtually no mother could fathom. And if world leaders continue to have deep, foolishly phallic attachments to these most dangerous of boy toys, let them meet in some anonymous men's room somewhere on the planet and actually see who has what.

And while they're at it, they should agree that their own private ego/power/size games should remain their games, not to be played at the peril of the world.

I would suggest, as start, that both nations "disemploy" their nuclear R&D scientists and, in the Iranian case, have all of these bright men ( and possibly a few of their female colleagues) start turning the enormous solar power potential of the Iranian desert into renewable, non-polluting power for the people. The U.S could also "gift" appropriate solar technology to Iran as a gesture of international friendship and non-aggression.

Of course, the obvious security benefit to both nations is this: Iran would have no nuclear facilities to target. The United States would not be threatened by any WMDs that Iran could, theoretically, possess.

Then the empirical evidence of yet another nuclear threat directed against the West would be lessened. And the regime in Tehran could breathe a little easier, because the U.S. Marine Corps has never, to my knowledge, invaded a foreign nation because sunlight shines on it.

All this, of course, is predicated on a major shift of thinking toward nonviolence, renewable energy, and new priorities for Iran, but especially for the ruling elite of the U.S.A.

Women can offer, collectively, a great deal toward the building of a new, and better, global problem-solving model. And we all should support Iranian women in joining their sisters in the United States (and the United Kingdom) in building the relationships necessary to work this thing out.

Because if there is ever a need for a feminist understanding of international conflict resolution, it is, clearly, now.