Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brushing Aside the Veil of Tension

The earthquake that left over three hundred dead and 16,000 homeless in Iran several days ago is an example of the tragedy and havoc nature can quickly and mercilessly impose on any nation. According to a recent article in the Associated Press, the majority of those killed were women and children, and the costs of the overall damage have yet to be estimated. This particular earthquake stands as a reminder that natural disasters transcend political boundaries; Iran may not exactly be an ally to the United States, but their people have nonetheless suffered in the same fashion as Americans would under similar circumstances. While some may ignore the human implications the earthquake has had on Iran and its people, it is imperative that the United States put aside its differences with the oftentimes-difficult Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei and begin to administer aid to the ailing country.

Economic and political sanctions executed by the United States government in recent months have certainly made dents in the Iranian economy, but appear to have done little to deter the state from furthering its nuclear enrichment program. With not many other options on the table, the United States will be hard-pressed in upcoming months to garner support for even more draconian measures. However, the solution is right in front of them. Call me heartless, but it seems to me there is a silver lining to this earthquake, and it comes in the form of a potential olive branch. Perhaps the United States should avert their strategy from the offensive, and simply hold out a friendly hand in the form of food, rescue teams, and financial aid (to strictly be used for reconstruction in areas severely damaged by the earthquake).

The argument for delivering such aid to Iran right now is bolstered by the Nonaligned Movement, of which 118 nations will be convening in Iran next week. As the New York Times wrote yesterday, the Nonaligned Movement originated during the Cold War and was a coalition of nations that refused to align with either of the dominating powers at the time. The world structure has since changed, but the sentiment remains the same: an overbearing power such as the United States is not necessarily a welcoming presence at the meeting, and with other major players such as China and even Russia being invited to attend the five day event in Tehran, the United States has even more of a reason to be demonstrating its more charitable side.

Perhaps the Iran-U.S. tensions aren’t as black and white as they appear. Perhaps there should be exceptions to these tensions, time-outs and stoppages from the game of sanctions and frosty relations. After all, our qualms lie with the Iranian government, not its people; do they deserve to be collateral damage during their time of need right now? By delivering the aid that is needed right now, the United States is doing what is within its power to alleviate misery and suffering in Iran, but is also demonstrating that in times of need, it is willing to loosen the noose that has been wrapped around the neck of Iran. Timed strategically, such charity coming from the U.S. to one of its staunchest rivals in the global political arena would make a good impression on those 118 nations spending next week in the Iranian capital.

Although a tragedy through and through, this earthquake may prove to be beneficial to the United States and Iran if the U.S. can put down its weapons and extend a hand to a nation that needs just that right now.

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