The possibility of a U.S. pre-emptive military strike using nuclear "bunker busters" against Iran's nuclear facilities recently surfaced through an article by respected journalist Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker. This nightmare strategy is being considered as a plausible option for ending nuclear production, while others propose it is a strategy for producing a regime change in Tehran. The idea is that an air assault would provide an opportunity for the people to arise and topple the present regime (Sound familiar?). Some insiders speak of a presidential "messianic mission" to save Iran.
The plausibility of these strikes is reinforced by the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," the concrete potential of the development of nuclear weapons through the production of enriched uranium at the underground facility at Natanz, and the stage at which the Pentagon has been discussing potential tactical air strikes against Iranian nuclear sites.
The threat of the development and use of one nuclear weapon is a frightening scenario. The overlooked twist in the scenario is that as of January 2006 the U.S. has 10,000 nuclear warheads and is the one and only nation that has actually used a nuclear bomb! The threat other nations pose in developing and using nuclear weapons is real. Nuclear terrorism is not a sci-fi fantasy. At the same time, there lurks in the background of this "war on terrorism" the unexamined and unquestioned issue of U.S. as the sole superpower seeking to maintain a hegemony of military power in the world.
The development of nuclear weapons by other countries is not only a threat to other nations, but to the dominion of the American empire's military power in the world. The tentacles of the U.S. empire are extended through the presence of over 700 military bases spread around the world. There is no parallel to the military force of the U.S. Our military spending in 2005 was around $421 billion, seven times larger than China, who has the second largest military budget. There is an intentional agenda of the U.S. in being second-to-none when it comes to our military. Our military dominance gives us the power to maintain and protect our interests around the world.
The idea that the U.S. may seek a regime change in Iran in support of U.S. interests is nothing new. Protecting American interests was a part of going to war with Iraq. If we remember, we once were supporters of Saddam, when he supported our interests. We have even ousted democratically elected leaders who did not align themselves with U.S. interests. Although we cannot ignore the real threats that nations may pose when they obtain nuclear weapons, neither can we ignore the reality of the American empire's need to maintain world dominance through military power. This reality should come to the foreground when we critically reflect on issues related to U.S. foreign policy and military strategy. There is something of a "messianic" complex that leads our nation to view itself as needing to maintain military dominance for the "good," "peace" and "freedom" of the world.
This "messianic" mission appears to be hauntingly similar to the view of the Caesars and the Roman empire of Jesus' day. Rome had an army second-to-none. The empire extended its tentacles throughout the world through its military fortresses. Any threat to the interests and policies of the Roman Empire was squelched through military might. Jesus himself ended up on the cross-end of the military agenda to squelch any threat to Roman imperial hegemony. The use of force and violence was justified through Pax Romana, a philosophy of peace through imperial power.
In the New Testament the way of Jesus and the reign of God stand in sharp contrast to the way of Caesar and the Roman Empire. Christians were called upon to choose between the two ways. In our current context of imperial hubris and the potential for more war and human destruction, Christians are once again called upon to choose: the way of Caesar or the way of Christ; the way of empire or the way of God's reign.