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Re Iran: Say 'Think Outside the Box!' 1.27.12

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Re Iran: Say 'Think Outside the Box!'

by Susan C. Strong

Despite some positive recent reports, the struggle with Iran could still spin out of control. That could destroy every bit of progressive gain we in the U.S. made this year, to say nothing of other, even more horrible outcomes. Even if signs from all parties, the Iranians, the U.S., the Israelis, and others, strongly suggest a cooling off period or negotiations, we progressives should not relax. Why? Because the crisis may only have been postponed to later this spring. Whatever happens, President Obama's handling of Iran will be a political football in the 2012 election. And even if all those involved temporarily come to their senses, the pressure for a new war from the military industrial complex and Congress will continue. (1) We progressives need to counter with some bold, creative moves on this issue. The Middle East has already changed dramatically, in ways that none of us ever really expected to see. Let’s push everyone to “think outside the box” about the Iran issue too. (2) So what types of ideas can we locate outside the “Iran box” right now?

Here’s one that came up recently in The New York Times. How about proposing a nuclear free zone in the Middle East? Probably most people there really don’t want a 'hot' war, one in which radioactive nuclear material from bombing Iran's current facilities would be spread all over the area, and then all over the planet too. Yes, I know the idea of a nuclear free zone sounds like pie in the sky, but Shibley Telhami and Stephen Kull, reporting in the New York Times (1.16.2012), have found impressive levels of support for this idea even within Israel itself.(3) It’s also something constructive that many peace advocates could honestly support. As for Iran, who knows? Their politics are so complex that we can't safely predict how they would respond if more people get behind the idea elsewhere. At the very least, it's definitely outside the current box.

Second, in conjunction with the idea of a nuclear free zone, it might be interesting to raise another completely “out of the box” nuclear idea: dumping nuclear power. After Fukushima, are the Iranians or anyone else wise to keep pursuing civilian nuclear energy? Surely Iran has solar or wind capability, possibly even thermal? The Iranians are a smart, technologically sophisticated people who are very reasonably thinking ahead about what to do when the oil runs out. But maybe their national pride could be salved even better by leapfrogging ahead into green energy. The potential for making green money as well as green energy in the years ahead looks good. Going green would also be morally superior, in that it would be pollution-free and a positive contribution to fighting future global climate chaos. It would also take away the biggest excuse others give for attacking them. It could be a real win/win.

At the very least, if we progressive advocates make a big noise about thinking outside the box re Iran right now, it will give people something else to talk about. Let's 'crowd source' as many new “out of the box” ideas as we can. Right now there is way too much 'we're going to war' talk going on, especially here at home. Let's push hard for changing the subject to 'thinking outside the box' before history repeats itself, and the world talks itself into a very stupid, self-destructive war--again.

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Notes
(1) Just one more indication of things to come: the Friends Committee on National Legislation recently sent out a warning that Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Joe Lieberman (CT) are preparing a bill that would force the U.S. into even greater confrontation with Iran.
(2) An interesting experiment was recently reported in the 1.23.12 issue of Science Daily about improving thinking by making the “out of the box” metaphor physical: .
(3) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/opinion/preventing-a-nuclear-iran-peacefully.html?_r=1&ref=iran