War fever is growing hotter again. Conservatives have called for the bombing of Iran because of Iran’s recent recalcitrance in negotiations over giving up their plans to build a nuclear program. The conservative mind latches onto to the immediate start of hostilities as the solution when crises such as these arise. The issue of Iran’s nuclear program raises two sorts of questions. How does one resolve the Iran nuclear program issue? Why do conservatives and liberals (anybody to the left of conservatives in this case) arrive at different recommendations on the matter. A Lakoffian view of the questions sheds some light on the conservative call to arms.
Iran, from a conservative view, is part of an axis of evil whose charter members included Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. Conservatives arrive at this view by thinking of international relations as a family of nations with the United States as the father at its head who instructs, guides, holds ultimate moral authority, and punishes those nations who do not subscribe or obey the father’s moral authority and command. A corollary to this is viewing any nation such as Iran and North Korea as recalcitrant children in the world family who must be punished for not obeying the moral authority of the father, the United States.
Seen in this light the conservative call for hostilities seems unsurprising and a natural result of their world view and the metaphor on which it is based. The problem is that the conservative metaphor for international relations is not apt and breaks down when it comes to cases as to what is possible when dealing with countries who do not subscribe to U. S. moral authority and command.
North Korea possesses a sophisticated nuclear armament. If North Korea is a recalcitrant child, then it is a grown child with a mind of its own. Hostilities against North Korea guarantee North Korean reprisals against South Korea with deaths numbering in the millions. The moral authority of the United States and President Bush means nothing to North Korea.
That is why the Bush Administration has been impotent in creating any policy or program to deal with North Korean recalcitrance. The desire is to take the child out to the woodshed and apply the rod to his backside. The problem is that the child is fully grown, has some muscle, and will not to go to the woodshed.
The case of Iran presents the same issues as North Korea. Iran sits atop large oil supplies needed by large capitalist economies, influences certain Islamic world views far beyond its borders, has enough resources to further destabilize the middle east, and most likely isn’t as stupid as some conservatives hope. For instance, Iran is not hiding their nuclear program in plain sight. Dreams of a simple surgical strike against Iran to resolve the nuclear issue are merely wishful thinking.
The conservative position is that is why somebody must strike now while the Iran nuclear program is in its nascent stages. The hope is that Iran will be duly chastised and return home like a dutiful child.
One of the benefits of the Iraq War was supposed to be the liberalization of countries such as Iraq. The opposite has happened. Iran shifted dramatically in the other direction with the election of an ultra-conservative President who is more than willing to confront the U. S. and Europe. The expectation that bombing Iran would somehow not accelerate the process begun by that election seems another idle hope.
Any strike at Iran will force Iran to renew its efforts to create a nuclear capability with more vigor. The only way to prevent that will be to shut off the international resources who are more than willing to supply Iran with material for its nuclear program at the appropriate cash value. Iran has oil which means lots of cash. What gets lost in the Iran discussion is that the United States has no policy or program to shut off those resources.
Conservative war fever will continue to grow hotter because of the conservative world view. The Bush Administration has been eerily silent for the most part about the matter. Calling for the issue to be taken to the U. N. Security Council is a very tame tactic for the Bush Administration. The immediate response seems to mirror that of the U. S. policy towards North Korea. Could it be that the Bush Administration secretly knows, like others of a more prudent temperament, that bombing Iran merely takes the confrontation to a new level rather than in a new direction?
Will the conservative war faction force the same reaction from President Bush as the social conservative faction thrust upon him in the Alito nomination for the Supreme Court?