Editor’s Note: Gary Sick served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, and was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick is a senior research scholar and adjunct professor of international affairs at Columbia University, a member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York, and founding chair of its advisory committee on the Middle East and North Africa.
There is an inevitability about sanctions imposed for political reasons. Serious negotiations and compromise are precluded, and the appetite for ever-stronger sanctions grows with the realization that past efforts were a failure. If you set an impossible objective and then begin imposing sanctions to achieve it, the result is always more sanctions, until you arrive at the point where there are no more sanctions and only force remains.
We are approaching that point.
- Gary Sick, in an opinion special to CNN.com.
The rhetoric surrounding Iran has scaled up recently, and it’s really starting to frighten me. That, with the current state of our country and of the world at large, some are almost excitedly pressing for another, likely disastrous, pre-emptive war across the globe. Anything and everything that can be done to prevent outright war must be done. With the domestic political climate, the president is forced to offer continuous firm support for Israeli aggression and for the option of war as a means of suppressing Iran. Yet outside of the hawkish political talking heads, average Americans don’t have the will left to support another war. The economic and human costs are simply too high: waging a new crusade in the Middle East; forcing further clashes between Eastern and Western Culture; foolishly miring ourselves in thousand-year-old sectarian, ethnic, and religious strife; adding to the cartoonishly ballooning cost of our massive military complex; adding to the ranks of disabled, injured, and downtrodden veterans we struggle to care for after their return from duty; adding to the number of fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, and friends lost.
Iran poses a real threat. The leaders and wielders of power resent us, hate our cultural values, and seek to break our (Western) hegemonic global economic and political control. We must find a way to prevent them from bringing nuclear weapons back to the battlefields, and catalyzing true global catastrophe. In the worst case scenario, Western powers, including the US, could be forced to intervene with military action. Yet to actively advocate for a hot war confrontation with a belligerent power like Iran is wildly out of touch with the realities of the costs of such action. And we should be afraid of those in power, speaking as such, knowing they will not be the ones to risk everything if their disturbed dreams come true.