Put the Shoe on the Other Foot


photo credit: Doug20022

I’m beginning to conclude that we should never make a political decision without first reversing our perspective of the decision and seeing how it looks. For example, on health care there is a lot of focus on what this will look like for those who want insurance but can’t get it. Only now do any politicians seem to be considering what this legislation does to those who have insurance or don’t want it.

Rep. Ron Paul does this with Afghanistan and I’d like to have a hypothetical look at Iran right now to see what it looks like.

Imagine that we are 30 years in the future and America is no longer the dominant force in the world politically or economically. Imagine that the economic power is centered in China (not a very far flung supposition) and that the military power is centered in the Middle East (less likely, but important for this exercise), specifically in Iran. In the last 30 years they have developed a military capability that makes nuclear weaponry look like child’s play. They and China, and perhaps one other nation, posses this new capability and we want it. The world at large fears the possibility of it ever being used but while most nations have no hope of acquiring it, all wish they were among the insiders looking out over the world with a feeling of being in control of their own destiny. Imagine that the United States is among that select group of nations that actually feels capable of creating this new weaponry for itself.

How would we feel when the haves (Iran, China, and anyone else on the inside of this new military capability) threaten us with sanctions and even military intervention if we try to join their club? Please keep in mind that our reaction if we are trying to acquire this with hostile intent will be almost indistinguishable from our reaction if we have some desire (openly or in secret) to use this capacity to harm another nation.

I don’t mean to suggest that I like the idea of Iran with nuclear weapons. I don’t mean to suggest that a world with no controls over nuclear capabilities is desirable. I do mean to suggest, in the strongest way possible, that threats of sanctions and/or military intervention is at least as likely to make the situation worse as it is to contain the threat that we perceive from nations such as Iran and North Korea. I do mean to point out that the use of threats such as these only makes such nations that much more anxious to join the club so that they have a chance to feel like and be treated like equals on the world stage.

6 comments for “Put the Shoe on the Other Foot

  1. Ronald D. Hunt
    October 6, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    China is not going to become as economically powerful as some would lead you to think. Western china is getting rowdier and rowdier(past bomb throwing awhile ago) with it’s high muslin population, This same population is mistreated by the Chinese government and discriminated against in almost all parts of Chinese society. Their farmers have been having to pollinate their crops by hand as the bee is almost extinct in many parts of China, This is a time taking and man hour intensive task. Their industrial sectors costs have been rising due to increased need for educated workers, complexity of the water filtration systems due to how polluted their rivers are, and the basic cost of petroleum products increasing.

    Now I wouldn’t write China off by many means, Their are things their industry can get away with that disgust most Americans. But most of China’s hurdles are flat continuing costs, while our hurdles are mostly political ones.

    • October 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      The point of the post was not to predict what will happen in the future, but to explore what we would think/feel/do in the event that the U.S. finds itself on the outside looking in to the world power structure (regardless of whether it’s China or anyone else who is on the inside of that scenario).

      Is there some way that we would feel cooperative rather than harassed in such a situation with world power holders threatening us as we are doing to Iran? Is it possible that there is a better way forward?

  2. October 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Your final paragraph: sanctions and/or military threats make it worse by creating incentive for the country to achieve nuclear status.

    I’m not sold on sanctions either. I don’t know that they harm the people with actual power, and frankly I think the UN members are just corruptly circumventing the sanctions they’re voting for anyway. But I don’t know what the alternative is. Maybe the opposite of sanctions ie. free trade? It seems to have quieted Chinese military aggression (towards us anyway) a bit.

    • October 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm

      That is the same conclusion I come to as well. I’m wondering if anyone can come to any other conclusion when they stop and thing about the question.

  3. Ronald D. Hunt
    October 6, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Ohh sorry, sometimes I am a bit dense(comes from my progressive side *wink*).

    We have been the boss man for to long, I am not sure we would even see it if some other country became more powerful. And if we did see it we would likely resent being number 2 and become as difficult as Iran is to deal with.

    • October 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm

      I have to agree – we would be very slow to admit that another country was more powerful than the U.S. and we would probably not be very gracious about not being top dog.

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