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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As Tensions Rise With West, Ordinary Iranians Fear War

Tensions between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program reached a new height Tuesday, with anonymous Israeli defense officials saying they believe time is urgently running out for a military strike to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Iran is moving more of its facilities underground, where, according to the Israeli Defense Minister, “no surgical operation could block them.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister meanwhile made a conciliatory gesture this week, inviting the U.N. nuclear inspectors in the country this week to stay beyond their planned three days — reports indicate that the inspectors will stick to their original schedule.

The UN visit comes amid high tension between Iran and the West, with Europe and the U.S. imposing tough new sanctions on the country, and Iran retaliating with a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, which carries about a fifth of the world’s oil everyday.

While Iran is not high on the minds of most people in the West, reporter Thomas Erdbrink told Here and Now‘s Robin Young that “ordinary Iranians are feeling desperate, and fearing war, even as their economy suffers from the sanctions.”

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  • Anonymous

    Though Europe and the United States are accelerating economic sanctions in an effort to appease Israel, it plans to attack Iran anyway.  One might start to wonder which of these two is now the more rogue state in the Middle East.Should Israel surgically attack Iran, as it had done Iraq twenty years ago, we can expect Iran to return fire.   And Iran might have unknown weapons in its arsenal and unknown ways to use them. The question then becomes to what extent do we help Israel when it picks a fight with Iran?If the U.S. helps it unconditionally, as it had done before, then we risk retaliation from Iran on our nearby facilities. The same is true for european countries which are all within a striking distance of Iran.  So what do we do, sit back and not help a friend trying to make the world a safer place for the rest of us?In this case, perhaps. If Israel wants to bomb Iran on its own terms, when it wants to and how it wants to, then it can also stand ready to fend for itself when Iran returns fire.  To let it assume otherwise is irresponsible since it encourages rogue action on the expectation of help.  With the world on the mend from a profound economic downturn, such foreseeable misstep should be avoided. Does this mean then that we  should resign ourselves to a nuclear Iran? George W. Bush may have thought so, as he may have thought the same about a nuclear North Korea.   And despite his and Dick Cheney’s professed love for Israel, they might have been looking for new friend in the Middle East when they toppled Saddam.  Iraq did not prove a friend, but it has proved that U.N. inspections can work because the UN teams had destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction. Who knows, in time our economic sanctions might also slow down Iran.  If not, having nuclear Iran —  or nuclear anyone else — is something the rest of us can learn to live with. Maybe Israel should too.  And conduct itself accordingly.  

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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