The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

Diplomacy and posturing on Iran

For many analysts and political leaders there seems to be an elaborate pattern of war posturing emerging with respect to Iran and Israel. It was recently revealed that Iran had been enriching uranium to levels necessary for constructing nuclear missiles. Iran denies the accusation that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons, but continues to be secretive about the nature of its intentions.

While individual states have strengthened the network of economic and financial embargoes on Iran, Israel has expressed alarm at the immediate existential threat that it feels it faces. Several small rocket attacks have been launched on the latter ostensibly in retaliation for the deaths of four Iranian nuclear scientists in the last two years.

Yesterday an editorial in the Washington Post suggested that the U.S. Defense Secretary Lean Panetta expects Israel to attack this year. This idea is all too easy to read in the aggressive posturing of Israel about the window of opportunity that exists to nip Iran’s nuclear development in the bud.

Military action against Iran has been opposed by the U.S. and European allies, but there is little doubt that too little is being done to develop serious options for a peaceful resolution. Meanwhile international realpolitik seems to be predictably proliferating the possible paths to war.

The findings of psychologists on human behavior and the kinds of cooperation on which peaceful international relations are based are instructive on this issue. In past statements by SPSSI such as the Statement on Human Nature and Peace, psychologists have framed the emerging geopolitical currents in ways that foster understanding and positive lessons for the future. Science-based dialogue is critical on these issues and has great potential to improve our arrangements of collective security and conflict resolution.

Alex Ingrams
SPSSI Policy Coordinator

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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin