By Atreya Misra
Every year, Columbia University invites many heads of states, government officials, and major politicians to the United Nations General Assembly, and every year, these invitations go without controversy. This lack of controversy exempts 2007, when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak on Columbia University’s campus. This one invitation sparked protests not only among the students of Columbia, but of people from all over the city of New York. The events of 2007 foreshadowed what is being observed today with the conflict in Iran as well as the tensions in that region. The United States should take a stance against Iran not through a radical act of war, but rather a method that will keep both United States and Middle Eastern countries safe, however improbable it may be.
Currently, the situation in Iran boils down to two issues, the first being Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The closure of the strait would pose as significant downside risks not only on the military front, but on the economic front as well. On the military front, the closure would present major threats to all Middle Eastern Nations because of the limited navigation and security that would result from the closure. As for economic issues, the downturn would not be contained in the Middle East but rather it would spread throughout the world. Outside the Middle East, the closure would mean limited oil supply, harming nations such the China, the UK, as well as the US. Within the boundaries of the Middle East, countries, especially the United Arab Emirates, would not be able to trade as the paths that the cargo ships would have to go through would be blocked off. The United States’ job is to stop this, as it will risk the success of industries all over the world relying on oil from the Middle East. The US also has the moral obligation to prevent the closure because it was the first country to take a stance against Iran with sanctions bringing many other countries with it. If the United States does not do this soon, it will jeopardize the security of countries all around the globe, and no country can afford this danger.
Furthermore, the situation also boils down to Iran’s conflict with Israel. The two have been enemies for over sixty years and there are no signs of that changing soon. Just last Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei displayed his opinion on Israel, and in no way was it quaint. The fact that the US is in firm support of Israel couldn’t worsen the situation any worse. Throughout the sixty years of conflict between Iran and Israel, tensions have never been higher. Both Israel and Iran are threatening each other with war constantly, and it seems as though Israel is getting impatient. For the U.S. Senate, holding off on war is the best thing to do and we cannot let Israel go forward. If Iran and Israel were to go into war, we wouldn’t see constraint. Iran would use its recently developed nuclear facilities while Israel would use tactics of total warfare, killing innocent Iranian citizens. Both of these situations must be avoided with any means necessary it would permanently scar Iran’s relations not only with Israel, but the United States as well.
The solution to this problem isn’t simple; it will require a lot of thought as well as tough decisions. Targeted sanctions, diplomacy – it is not necessarily a question of what, but how. The next few months are crucial; nonetheless, the United States must be guided by cautious yet forward-thinking leadership rather than naïve ignorance. It’s time we take active steps to prevent the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, it’s time we prevent an ultimate war from breaking out, and it’s time we take a firm stance against Iran.