The Instigator
jamesblue
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
CASmnl42
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Iran is not a threat to world security

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 712 times Debate No: 71143
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (0)

 

jamesblue

Pro

The last time Iran started a war was in 1856 When they invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to capture Herat. http://en.wikipedia.org...

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. http://www.dni.gov...

"Iran's military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests." http://freebeacon.com...

"Since the Iran-Iraq War , Tehran has placed significant emphasis on developing and fielding ballistic missiles to counter perceived threats from Israel and coalition forces in the Middle East and to project power in the region." http://freebeacon.com...

Recent MOSSAD cables reveal that Netanyahu has been lying about Iran's intention to build nuclear weapons. http://www.aljazeera.com...

Ahmadinejad never stated that he wanted to wipe Israel off of the map. http://www.washingtonpost.com....

Now it is time for a brief history lesson. In 1953 the CIA conducted a coup in order to remove the democratically elected Mossedeq from office after he nationalized oil fields owned by what is now known as BP. The CIA then installed the Shah of Iran Pavlavi, who led a brutal regime. His secret police was known as SAVAK, who tortured thousands of Iranians, there is some comparison between the SAVAK and the Gestapo. Finally in 1979 the Shah was overthrown during the Iranian revolution, and he died in exile; The wildly popular Khomeini took power. Iranian seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and accused them of being spies. The students originally asked foe Pavlavi to be returned so he could be put on trial. The U.S. refused, and Pavlavi died in 1980. After his death, the students demanded the hostages be put on trial for espionage. The release of the hostages was secured by the Algiers Declaration, where the U.S. agreed to unfreeze Iranian assets, however the U.S. reneged and refused to return Iranian wealth, the U.S. then cut off relations with Iran.

In 1980, after the revolution, Iraq decided to invade Iran, which lead to the death of thousands of Iranians. Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranians, which was condemned by a majority of the world, but a U.N. condemnation of the use of the chemical weapons was vetoed by the U.S. Despite the use of chemical weapons, the Iranians pushed the Iraqis back, and Hussein eventually agreed to peace in 1988. In 1983, and 1984 Donald Rumsfeld visited Hussein multiple times. Once in 1984 was one day prior to a chemical weapons attack by Hussein on the Iranians.

Iran today is surrounded by enemies on all sides, with the only superpower on the planet showing that it will lie to justify an invasion into a sovereign country (Iraq, 2003.); and Israel, a rogue nuclear state declaring it's intention to destroy Iran. Iran has every right to be paranoid of war, and seeks every way it can to deter any invasion by the world powers. Iran is also closely monitored by U.S. satellites, and any attempt to field a nuclear weapon would be instantly handled. Any justification for war in Iran by the west is a pure fabrication, and propaganda.
CASmnl42

Con

Thank you, jamesblue, for bringing this important topic to the floor. As Con, I will be arguing that Iran indeed poses a threat to global security. I support the efforts of the Obama administration, Secretary Kerry, and the P5 + 1 nations to address this threat through diplomatic negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Pro and I will probably agree on many points. The best information currently available from U.S. intelligence agencies is that Iran suspended its covert program to develop a nuclear weapon in 2003. [1] The findings of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate have reportedly been confirmed in an updated (but unreleased) NIE from 2010. [2] Heated rhetoric from the right in both the U.S. and Israel have downplayed these findings and have continued to insist, with little evidentiary support, that Iran is actively pursuing a covert nuclear weapon program. This exaggerated posturing from Likud and GOP leaders alike is detrimental to the security interests of both countries. Pro and I will agree that the military intervention encouraged by the right would be completely unjustified at this stage. I will also agree with what I think is the main point of Pro's "history lesson," which is that the history of U.S. / Iranian relations since the 50's have done little to engender trust. Considerable fault lies with U.S. leadership and its intelligence community, though I would hasten to add that the failings have been mutual, and not so one-sided as my opponent suggests.

However, this does not mean that we should not recognize Iran as a global security threat. Global nuclear proliferation remains one of the leading dangers to the survival of humanity, alongside climate change. [3] The global nuclear threat derives not just from the large stockpiles held by the U.S. and Russia, but from the rising number of regional powers with nuclear capabilities, which threaten to escalate formerly small-scale territorial and ideological disputes between neighboring countries into nuclear confrontations - e.g., Pakistan and India, or the Korean peninsula. [3]

It is necessary to consider what the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran would be. The willingness of the Israeli government to take preemptive military action against a nuclear-armed Iran is a given. [4] Additionally, a nuclear-armed Shia Iran would likely encourage the Sunni-led governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to revive long-dormant weapons programs. [3] One must also consider the potential "black swan" events that could give rise to instability in Iran -- ISIS represents a present territorial and religious threat to Iran's government, and the 2009 Green Revolution illustrated the diminished hold the regime has on its citizens. Any of these regional or internal tensions could erupt suddenly - a nuclear Iran simply makes it more likely that whatever conflicts arise escalate into a nuclear confrontation.

Let's also be under no illusions about what Iran can achieve on a short timeline if it were to revive the illicit nuclear weapons program which it admitted it was once operating. Note that the NIE findings indicated that Iran suspended its covert (and clearly illegal) enrichment operations - its overt operations have remained a legitimate point of concern for the west, as it has ramped up from a "pilot" program to industrial-level production. [5] In 2012, the UN Int'l Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had begun producing nuclear fuel at a protected mountain facility insulated from potential air strikes - although ostensibly for civilian purposes, the location and security of the facility means that rapid conversion to weaponization could take place quickly without much capacity for the west to halt weaponization short of direct military intervention. [6] Iran has also refused to allow international inspections at military sites suspected of developing warhead designs and trigger devices. [7] During the course of P5 + 1 negotiations, Iran has missed disclosure deadlines to answer questions about its prior weaponization efforts, and its work on long-range-ballistic-missile delivery systems has continued unimpeded. [8] In short, Iran’s efforts to hide its nuclear facilities have intensified doubts about Iran's intentions, even though little evidence of an active weapons program has been recently detected.

This is why the P5 + 1 talks are so critical for global security. A nuclear agreement is in the best interests of Iran, the United States, the Middle East generally, and Israel (even if Likud won't admit it for its own political reasons). While a comprehensive deal has always been a daunting challenge - and the talks are more likely to fail than succeed - a deal that alleviates sanctions for Iran while minimizing the risks that Iran can revive a clandestine nuclear weapons program would alleviate regional tensions that have come closing to snapping more than once in recent years. A successful deal could also help thaw the long-standing tension between the U.S. and Iran, leading to the possibility of a peaceful partnership in the future. [9]

With that, I stand opposed to the resolution. Iran's nuclear production capacities render it a global security threat, albeit one that is better addressed by non-military means at present.

[1] http://www.dni.gov...
[2] http://www.nytimes.com...
[3] http://www.un.org...
[4] http://www.timesofisrael.com...
[5] http://www.brookings.edu...
[6] http://www.nytimes.com...
[7] http://www.nytimes.com...
[8] http://nationalinterest.org...
[9] http://www.juancole.com...
Debate Round No. 1
jamesblue

Pro

So it seems that we both agree that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon at the present time. Also, there was no rebuttal put forward that would counter that any attempt by Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon would be for deterrence by the West, or Israel.[1] The point of the "history lesson" was to show that Iran would have every incentive to pursue nuclear weapons as a deterrent against western aggression.

The threat of preemptive strike, and western aggression in the region has been a major reason Iran has pursued nuclear weapons. Starting with Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons against Iranians, with intelligence provided by the U.S. to maximize its effectiveness. [2] President Bush also famously declared that Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq were part of an "axis of evil", and has threatened Iran multiple times with regime change, and preemptive strikes against its facilities. This has done nothing but incentivize gaining nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against these threats.

I agree that having nuclear arms race in the Middle East would be disastrous, which is why Rouhani has called for a nuclear free Middle East, and has urged Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty. [3] Israel has also demonstrated in the past that it would threaten other countries with nuclear strikes, and lash out to all countries with nuclear weapons called the "Samson Option". [4]

With that, I think we can both agree that as long as nuclear weapons remain, the threat of their use will remain, and total disarmament should be a goal for all countries. However the threats of collapse, and strife are not exclusive to Iran. Iran spends very little on its military when compared to other countries in the region. [5] Iran's military posture is defensive, which means the possibility of Iran using nuclear weapons offensively is extremely tiny. [1]

[1] http://freebeacon.com...
[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[3] http://rt.com...
[4] http://www.au.af.mil...
[5] http://iranprimer.usip.org...
CASmnl42

Con

Thank you for the thoughtful response, jamesblue, and for clarifying your earlier argument. I would like to clarify a few points as well.

As my opponent notes, we agree on a lot. This is not surprising, as the basic strategic contours are not in dispute within the community of those who closely follow international relations, of which my opponent seems to be a member.

First, we agree that the best available intelligence strongly supports the conclusion that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon at this time. That said, as a point of clarification, I don't think I would agree with a definitive, categorical statement that Iran is not currently pursuing a nuclear weapon. Because of Iran's reluctance to allow inspectors at certain sites or to make disclosures requires by the P5+1 negotiation framework, I would allow for the slight possibility of a successfully concealed weapons program, though I do not think that is very likely.

Second, I do in fact agree that one of the primary reasons why Iran has pursued nuclear weapons in the past is its leaders believe - with not a little justification - that the United States and Israel favor the removal of the current regime from power. As my opponent correctly notes, the spectre of 1953 looms large in the Iranian national consciousness, as does the trauma of Iraq's aggressive, US-backed warfare in the 1980's. The deterrent effect of a nuclear weapon - that is, a deterrent to American or American-supported military action - has been acknowledged by Iran's American opponents. [1] [2] I do not think that is the sole reason Iran sought nuclear weapons - national pride is a big one - but it is the primary strategic reason.

Third, we agree that regional - and ultimately, global - total nuclear disarmament is an important long-term goal. However, practically speaking, there is no realistic short- or mid-term scenario in which Israel divests its nuclear arsenal. The realistic options for the Middle East in the next decade are a unipolar nuclear power, vested in Israel, or a catastrophic arms race.

Finally, I agree that Iran is currently in a defensive military posture, though I do not think that matters terribly much. Iran's posture is defensive; Israel, too, is in a defensive posture vis-a-vis Iran, but both parties are wary of the other striking out. History is full of wars between nations that each party considered defensive. That said, Iran's own military is only part of the story. One must also consider its proxy support of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are more actively aggressive. The West is rightly wary of Iran's intentions based on this support.

With all that is agreed upon, what is left? Only the resolution - that Iran is indeed a threat to world security. My opponent seems to think that because Iran is not currently pursuing a nuclear weapon, currently holds a defensive posture, and seeks to deter foreign-imposed regime change, that Iran is not a threat to global security. But his conclusion does not follow from these premises - indeed, these very factors contribute significantly to the threat that Iran poses, because they all incentivize Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Although Iran is not currently pursuing development of a nuclear weapon - again, as best we know - it has done so in the past, in secret, in violation of international law. As my opponent noted, Iran has rational incentives to deter forcible regime change. My opponent also noted that Iran spends relatively little on its military, but what resources it does expend, it expends very strategically. Iran's doesn't have the military resources to directly counter US or Israeli military forces, so it has based its strategy on asymmetrical warfare (which the US has proved particularly poor at overcoming, it must be noted). [3] The deterrent force of a nuclear weapon is almost irresistible in this strategic context. The point being, Iran wants the bomb. It has every reason to! And because Iran wants the bomb, there's no reason to think that Iran won't take steps to obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as it is able. So Iran has a motive to obtain nuclear weapons.

My opponent has provided no rebuttal to the fact that Iran has continued overt nuclear refinement operations, has strategically placed these operations in locations protected from military strikes, and has ramped its operations up to a level that could be weaponized in very short order. So Iran has the means to obtain nuclear weapons, relatively quickly. upon deciding to do so

Were Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, its defensive posture, ironically, might result in pressure to use such a weapon. If Iran creates one or two warheads, it will know that it has put itself at risk of an Israeli strike. Unlike the Cold War, where the overall strategic match between the two great powers served as a disincentive to attack, the asymmetry between Iran and Israel give both countries an incentive to strike first. Iran, having a geographic advantage but an arsenal disadvantage, would recognize that an Israeli first strike would likely render them incapable of responding in kind - the nuclear weapons then become a "use them or lose them" resource. Israel, with an arsenal advantage but a geographic disadvantage, would recognize that the nation's small size means that even one or two nuclear explosions would be critically devastating, and would have an incentive to neutralize Iran's capacity as quickly as possible. Both countries, acting rationally and defensively, would almost certainly erupt in a nuclear conflagration. [4] Even if such a conflict with Israel did not erupt, the regional arms race - which, again, Pro did not rebut - with Sunni governments would quickly result in a multi-polar, unstable nuclear power distribution in an already volatile region.

Thus, Iran's rational motivations do not negate the threat Iran poses, as my opponent argues. They are in fact the very elements that give rise to a very grave threat to regional and global security.

With Iran having the motive and means to obtain a nuclear weapon, it stands to reason that Iran will most likely obtain a nuclear weapon if given the opportunity. Of late, Iran has been constrained by the harsh economic sanctions imposed by its largest potential trading partners in Asia and Europe. But if these sanctions continue unabated, and without hope of relief, eventually Iran will decide to renew its weapons program - this is why the hawkish strategy of permanent and intensified economic isolation for Iran is tantamount a quiet declaration of war. This is why the P5+1 talks are so critical - they provide an avenue by which Iran can be given relief from sanctions in exchange for agreeing to substantive, external obstacles to a weapons program.

This is not just the analysis of the United States, but of all the P5+1 nations, including Russia and China, who would very much like to purchase Iranian oil, but not at the expense of allowing Iran the opportunity to develop a nuclear weapon. All these nations - not just the US and Israel - recognize the threat that Iran poses if it remains free to develop nuclear weapons. As do I, and as should all those reading.

[1] http://www.newamericancentury.org...
[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[3] http://iranprimer.usip.org...
[4] http://www.foreignaffairs.com...
Debate Round No. 2
jamesblue

Pro

>Finally, I agree that Iran is currently in a defensive military posture, though I do not think that matters terribly much. Iran's posture is defensive; Israel, too, is in a defensive posture vis-a-vis Iran, but both parties are wary of the other striking out. History is full of wars between nations that each party considered defensive. That said, Iran's own military is only part of the story. One must also consider its proxy support of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are more actively aggressive. The West is rightly wary of Iran's intentions based on this support.

I would agree that Israel is largely defensive, however the amount of aggression that Israel shows to its neighbors is staggering. both Hezbollah, and Hamas were elected due to Israeli aggression. One could also say the same for the United States support for dictators around the world. Israel also receives weapons from the west, which according to multiple human rights organizations is used for ethnic cleansing in the region. Iran, with a much stronger case, is weary of the west (read: U.S.A.) due to its support of Israel, and long train of coups d'etat around the world.

>My opponent has provided no rebuttal to the fact that Iran has continued overt nuclear refinement operations, has strategically placed these operations in locations protected from military strikes, and has ramped its operations up to a level that could be weaponized in very short order. So Iran has the means to obtain nuclear weapons, relatively quickly. upon deciding to do so

As a country under the constant threat of preemptive it makes sense to place critical weapons producing facilities out of reach of strikes, as to ensure you have the capability to counter the attack. Any sane country would do this, I have not robbed a bank just because I place my money in a safe. I just want to make sure my money is safe. Iran may decide, like Japan, to acquire the technical know how to build the bomb, but not actually build it as to avoid the nuclear arms race in the middle east. Also, Relatively quickly may be under estimating the time it would take to build a weapon. It may take one year for an extremely simple weapon, and two to three years for a more complex weapon, assuming everything goes correctly. [1] This would give the U.S.A/Israel plenty of time to neutralize threat.

The constant perception that Iran is constantly under threat from world powers is driving them to obtain a nuclear weapon. If sanctions were lifted, and NATO forces removed from the borders of Iran, the perceived threat would disappear. Israel would also have to show that it is willing to stop the aggression they are committing in the Middle East. Israel has three times in the past (1967, 1973, 1991) almost started a nuclear war due to perceived threats. [2] As long as this remains in the Middle East, Iran will be driven to pursue nuclear weapons to deter any aggression against them.

[1] http://issuu.com...
[2] http://www.au.af.mil...
CASmnl42

Con

Thank you again, jamesblue. This is a fascinating topic, and I appreciate your engagement with it. This has been a very worthwhile debate.

My closing will be very brief.

My opponent seems to have argued a slightly different resolution than the one he proposed. Throughout this debate, my opponent has largely been arguing that Iran's actions are justified. That's a worthy question for debate. My opponent makes a very strong case that, due to the history of foreign interference in its domestic affairs, Iran's prior pursuit of a nuclear weapon as a deterrent was rational and defensive in nature. Although I do not accept this position uncritically, it nevertheless is one that I agree with more than I disagree - Iran is not the apocalyptic death cult that its Western opponents caricaturize it as. I largely concede that the actions of Iran's leadership have proceeded rationally from its understandable incentives and legitimate interests.

But this debate is not about whether Iran is justified, it's about whether Iran is a threat - and it undoubtedly is. I have shown how Iran's rational pursuit of a nuclear weapon endangers the entire region, and the interests of the United States, Europe, China and Russia. It doesn't matter how justified that pursuit may be - the potential disasters that would follow a nuclear Iran are terrifying in the scope.

I urge your vote for Con.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
No votes have been placed for this debate.