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Iran not as big of an immediate threat to U.S. as Pakistan

By Kayvon Ghoreshi
On November 6, 2012

If the foreign policy debate a few weeks ago proved anything, it is that Romney and Obama have fairly similar policies and both regard a nuclear Iran as the biggest threat to America and the rest of the world. While there is no denying the tension between Israel and Iran, the scale of the threat has been somewhat exaggerated and has caused people to ignore other, potentially larger threats such as Pakistan.
The first and foremost misconception is this idea that Iran is building a nuclear missile and will launch it on Israel upon completion. There are two major discrepancies with this idea. The first is that Iran most likely desires nuclear weapons for the same reason every other country aims to have them. It gives the country leverage on an international stage where everyone else also has nuclear weapons. The second point to consider is that while Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government aren't the most reasonable voices in the international political sphere, they aren't fanatics. Over the past decades, Iran has had a self preservationist streak. They are more than aware that a preemptive nuclear strike would be disastrous for the rest of the world and for their own country considering how many nations would oppose it.
From a foreign policy perspective I would consider Pakistan an equal if not greater threat. Unlike Iran which has yet to develop a nuclear weapon, Pakistan currently has over 100 and is free to produce more. Pakistan's history hasn't been spotless. They came very close to nuclear conflict with India a little over a decade ago. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks had links to Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan has also been involved in giving nuclear technology to other countries and potentially having terrorist ties within its own government. Questions have also been raised when terrorist groups set up shop in Pakistan and most notably Osama bin Laden who resided surprisingly close to a Pakistani military base.
The threat however doesn't necessarily come directly from Pakistan. I believe they also realize the stakes of a nuclear strike in today's age. However, the main threat falls in terrorist groups getting their hands on nuclear weapons or Pakistan's government providing technology to other countries or groups as they have done in the past. These groups are much more fanatical and likely don't see the rippling consequences of nuclear warfare, and are an even bigger threat if they have links in the Pakistani government.
However, there is a reason that the issue of Pakistan is often brushed over. We tend to consider them as an ally. The United States sends foreign aid to Pakistan, their military has supported us on occasion and they have leaders that the United States associates with. With these factors we tend to turn a blind eye when Pakistan does something shady, or something happens that isn't in our best interest.
There is also a lingering sense of hypocrisy here. As Israel is allowed to stockpile its nuclear weapons, Iran is called into question for simply following what has been natural protocol for any country. The underlying purpose of the nuclear arms race is that countries have nuclear weapons so as to protect themselves from other countries with the same capabilities. In the same way, no one brings a knife to a gun fight, countries can't bring a traditional military to a table of nukes.
This isn't to say Iran isn't a priority in foreign affairs. There is a chance that Iran could provide nuclear technology to terrorist groups as well. The difference is that Iran has yet to reach the stage where it can do that, whereas Pakistan has been in that situation for years now. This in no way warrants Iran as the largest international threat or justifies the drums of war and military action that some politicians have been beating as of late. Frankly you need to ask yourself which would currently pose a bigger threat: Iran acquiring a single nuclear weapon while being heavily sanctioned and opposed by the international community; or a country that already has over 100 nuclear weapons, has acted as a base for extremist groups and has been called into question multiple times for having intelligence tied to terrorist groups. 


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