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King: Big Boys Club stays exclusive

POSTED: December 3, 2013 1:00 a.m.

As of this writing, six world powers have reached an agreement with Iran that would prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons.

At least that is the hope. Since the United States used the first nuclear bombs to end World War II, the U.S. and other nations have struggled to prevent a worldwide race for nuclear hegemony.

I’m sure readers know the meaning of the word “hegemony,” but look it up anyway. Webster defines it as “... the social, cultural, ideological or economic influence of a dominant group over others.” In short, nations that possess nuclear weapons are the Big Boys.

Together they dominate the world order. Today, nine nations belong to the Big Boys Club.

Iran is a proud country, one of the world’s oldest civilizations dating back more than 6,000 years, and has been at times a superpower. Now it is being told it cannot — must not — join the Big Boys, not now, not ever.
Think about it. Put that way, perhaps it is easier to understand why Iranians have tolerated increasing sanctions to the point of economic collapse.

No, it is not fair. The question is, is it necessary? Is the problem worldwide security or is it a worldwide power struggle? To what degree would an Iranian bomb threaten the world more than a Pakistani bomb or a North Korean bomb — or an Israeli or U.S. bomb?

This is not a plea for Iran’s nuclear program. I don’t want to see another nuclear-armed nation. On the contrary, it’s a plea for greater nuclear disarmament. Over the years, the United States has taken a number of steps in this direction, among them the Non-Proliferation Treaty under President Richard Nixon, President Ronald Reagan’s START proposal of 1982, and President Barack Obama’s renegotiation in 2009.

And every step of the way there are those who have pushed for more and greater rearmament. Today, the same paper that carried the news about the agreement also carried an op-ed column claiming easing Iran’s sanctions was “a sucker’s deal.”

The writer believes that Iran is nearing collapse and now’s our opportunity to bring down its leaders. Perhaps, but is that what we want? Regime change has not always worked to our advantage.

If the mullahs who now run the country are pushed out, who will replace them? Will we have to send in our forces in to stabilize the country because ... “If you break it, you own it?”

Sure, the mullahs want to stay in power, but that alone is not the reason the nation has continued developing its nuclear technology. The Iranian people want their place in the sun. They want the respect that comes with nuclear weapon technology. They want to join the Big Boys Club.

Here’s the good news. Sanctions have gotten the mullahs’ attention. They realize even the most power-hungry leaders can no longer ignore the rest of the world. It’s unfortunate that the squeeze has to be suffered by the Iranian people, so let’s pray this temporary agreement holds.

But it should not be seen as some sort of victory for the U.S. and it allies over a troublesome Muslim nation but as a step toward a nuclear free world.

Overthrowing Muslim leaders and humiliating a Muslim nation is not a worthy goal. Nuclear disarmament is. Nuclear transparency is a first step, but it must work both ways. There is imbalance and injustice on both sides.

For their part, Islamic leaders have vowed to destroy Israel, wipe if off the map if possible. Israel is allowed to have nuclear weapons. Iran isn’t. On the other hand, Israel expects Iran to allow non-Iranian inspectors into their laboratories to check for weapons-grade plutonium, while Israel keeps everything about its nuclear arsenal a state secret.

But imbalance provides room for compromise. If power and dominance remain the goal, war is almost inevitable. If the goal is world security, diplomacy is a step in the right direction.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at


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