Saturday, April 29, 2006

A new Cold War?

The New York Times released an article which compares the current nuclear tensions with Iran to a new Cold War. The basis of this argument is that the deception and brinkmanship now being applied by both countries is reminiscent to the tactics used by the Soviet Union and the United States throughout the Soviet Union. I think this comes back to the discussion we had in class on Thursday about the dangers of using analogies. While the tactics might be the same, it clearly is a very different situation. The idea of a Cold War with Iran seems like an odd fit as we often think of the Cold War having been a battle of equals, fought on every field except direct military confrontation. Iran and the United State are certainly not equals. Its also interesting to note that our discussion at the beginning of our last class of possible military action against Iran show the common belief that this supposed Iranian cold war may likely turn hot sometime in the future.

The use of rhetoric, deception, and brinkmanship have become tools of international relations and are not necessarily indicative of a return to a Cold War like policy. The Cold War was about stopping an ideology and further expansion, tensions with Iran are focused on nuclear technology and its potential to destabilize the region and pose a threat to international peace and security. While the Cold War comparison may have some validity and the tactics may be somewhat similar, the situation and concerns are hardly the same. The Cold War remained cold because it would have potentially meant death on a massive scale should outright confrontation occur, such fears do not exist with Iran. I'm doubtful that should Iran continue to pursue brinkmanship with regards to its nuclear ambitions, that it will be able to avoid direct action from the United States, Israel, and other like-minded nations. If anything, Iran would likely be in favor of the US adopting a Cold War mentality towards its nuclear program as it would be long and drawn out giving it more time to develop its program, just as North Korea has seemingly done.

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