Iran And The Bomb

The current edition of Foreign Affairs magazine contains a leading article by Professor Kenneth N Waltz provocatively entitled Why Iran Should Get The Bomb (it is worth taking a few minutes to read this short but cogent article).

The crux of Waltz’ argument is that power begs to be balanced. Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly especially coupled with American support, he argues, created a regional imbalance of power which is the primary driver of instability in the Middle East. A nuclear balance of terror in the region should, in his view, encourage actors in the region to behave more responsibly, as it has in the Subcontinent since India and Pakistan became formal nuclear powers. Since nuclear weapons came on the scene, no two nuclear powers have ever gone to war against one another. Iran’s theocratic leaders may be unpleasantly authoritarian and ideologically expansionist, but they are not mad. The consequences of an Iranian nuclear strike – massive retaliation by Israel and possibly the United States – are as clear to the Ayatollahs as they are to anyone else. Nor is passing on nuclear weapons to terrorist groups or other states likely to appeal to decision makers in Tehran, any more than it did to Mao’s unpleasantly authoritarian and ideologically expansionist régime in the 1960s.

To me, however, the more pertinent question is not whether Iran should be stopped from developing The Bomb, but whether it can be. North Korea has managed to become a nuclear power despite its crushing poverty, isolation, primitive economy and clear technical failings in its nuclear weapons programme. Iran, which maintains friendly relations with Russia and China is, at present, awash with oil money and has an education system capable of training as many nuclear scientists as it needs.

Western conservatives seem to work from the standpoint that Iran’s nuclear programme can be derailed at relatively little cost to Israel and still less cost to the West. Memories of Israel’s successful surgical strike on Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981, and more recent obliteration of what was almost certainly an undeclared Syrian reactor construction programme, fuel the idea that Iran can be forced to abandon its dream of becoming a nuclear power through air-strikes alone. However, Iran’s nuclear programme has been developed with the risk of an Israeli or American strike, whether by planes or missiles, uppermost in the minds of its planners. Facilities are, as far as is possible, in hardened underground sites. Any air strike which failed would likely only encourage Tehran to increase the tempo towards weaponisation, while leaving the US to deal with diplomatic and probably military fallout, a subject I will return to below.

Israel has instead pursued a high-risk strategy of assassinating key Iranian nuclear scientists, four of whom have now been killed in attacks while travelling to work, using locally recruited agents. The Stuxnet computer virus, aimed at the enrichment plant at Natanz, represented a joint American-Israeli attempt to disrupt the Iranian nuclear programme by non-conventional means. However, its success in introducing significant delays to the programme simply underlines how difficult it would be to destroy it entirely.

Iran’s nuclear programme has significant support outside the Islamic world. Moscow and Tehran have established a joint venture to complete and operate Iran’s long delayed civil nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Russia seems to see little threat in, at the least, an Iranian civil nuclear programme. Russia has nuclear weapons, a lot of them, and is a Security Council veto power. Its consequent diplomatic clout has been on display for all to see in Syria. It tends to see its interests in the region in narrow economic terms – for example, support for Syria has not prevented some enormous sales of military technology between Israel and Russia, in both directions, in recent years. As a major energy exporter, Russia’s economic interests in the Middle East are often far from being in consonance with Western ones.

Even without Russian support, Iran can take a number of steps to retaliate against any American-Israeli attack on its territory. It has already rattled sabres about closing the Straits of Hormuz, and while so far that has looked like an empty threat, it remains a go-to option in dire circumstances.

That could risk antagonising the Chinese, vastly more dependent on Middle East oil than the Americans and whose economy currently looks vulnerable. There are steps it can take which are more directly targeted at specifically American interests, however. Iran has long sponsored or encouraged terrorist attacks by proxies against its enemies, and as we saw in Bulgaria this week, it continues to do so. However, attacks on that small scale are likely to be seen in both Washington and Jerusalem as an acceptable price if they are the consequence of preventing a nuclear Iran. On its own doorstep, however, Iran has the capacity to undermine American interests in the region on a much bigger scale.

Iran’s influence in Iraq is already enormous and, while it has avoided antagonising America too directly since the occupation, if it wanted to it could. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is close to Tehran and some of the parties in his governing coalition are intimately connected to Iran’s most powerful politico-religious figures. Afghanistan, nestling on Iran’s eastern border, plays host to around 90,000 US troops and relations between Tehran and the Taliban have warmed considerably in recent years. And on the other side of the Gulf, Saudi Arabia’s predominantly Shi’a Eastern Province, home to the biggest chunk of its oil production, is perpetually unhappy with Riyadh, often for good reason. Bahrain also remains a powder keg, and of course nobody has the slightest clue how the situation in Syria will eventually pan out.

Stirring tensions in any of those countries represents a major escalation by Tehran, one that could provoke military conflict with Turkey or Saudi Arabia, a nightmare scenario for the entire region. However, hawks in Tehran may decide that as long as their nuclear programme is not derailed entirely, they can afford to wait. Once they have The Bomb, they will almost certainly be secure from any future attack, as North Korea has been.

That raises the prospects of a nuclear standoff between an American backed Israel and a Russian backed Iran. Is that necessarily a bad thing? It gives the world’s two largest nuclear powers all the incentive they need to push for a final settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, probably empowering America to seek more concessions from Israel in return for the maintenance of its nuclear umbrella and encouraging Russia to pour oil on troubled waters that might involve it in a situation well out of Moscow’s comfort zone.

The Middle East is about as far from the United States as it is possible to be, and projecting American power in the region is expensive and depends on what are, even in today’s globalised environment, fragile supply lines. Is it time for America to accept that its interests are now strategic rather than global? Asia’s rise makes a mockery of American universal hegemony, as does America’s own failure to project power into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Middle East oil mostly flows eastwards, fracking is driving US domestic gas production through the roof, and the oil sands in Alberta and Utah together with Brazil’s massive new offshore oilfield probably means America can meet its energy needs entirely from the Western Hemisphere for decades to come. For the more brutal realists that inhabit every US administration, it is probably easier to engineer coups in Venezuela than it is to keep the Middle East from exploding. How does America’s deep entanglement in the Middle East benefit it in concrete terms? Is it time to consider whether a policy of broad US disengagement from the Middle East best suits its interests?

In the short term, it would unleash howls of protest at home and it would take a brave politician indeed to raise the subject in an election year. In the medium term, it might prove popular with an American electorate weary of seemingly endless foreign wars.

  • I have always agreed that Iran should have nuclear weapons. Good luck to them.
    I would urge the UN to hand out nucear weapons to all countries.
    The lesson for the last twenty years is clear…..if you have NOT got a nucear weapon (Iraq) you get attacked. If you do have a nuclear weapon (Pakistan, Israel, PDR Korea) nobody attacks.
    Its that simple.

  • Alias

    It’s interesting that some folks on the left suddenly switch from being long-time opponents of nuclear proliferation to advocates of it when there is an opportunity presented to point those weapons at Israel.

    In reality, Iran getting nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race, with those states in the region who deny Israel’s right to exist seeking to develop weapons that enabled them to wipe Israel and its people off the map without pre-empting their own eternal reward.

    What creates a balance of power in the region is Israel having nuclear weapons, since that is the only force preventing Israel’s enemies, which massively outnumber it, from attacking it. Therefore, Iran getting nuclear weapons is not a tactic designed to create a balance of power but to remove it, thereby enabling the destruction of Israel and the death of millions by conventional warfare.

    There is no suggestion that Israel would use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive manner to destroy its enemies, so there is no logical reason to promote Iran to nuclear weapon status as a deterrence to something occurring that everybody agrees would not occur.

    What would also occur is that Iran would use its nuclear weapons to create Islamic states elsewhere in the world by arming regimes and terrorist groups, with no state able to prevent it without risking nuclear attack from Iran.

    The whole world would be at the mercy of religious fanatics. And there are no precedents that Walz can refer to apply his bogus logic that something can’t occur because it hasn’t already occurred.

    At any rate, Walz’s idiocy may get headlines for the journal that proffers it and be instantly celebrated by Israel’s haters but that’s the only application it has since Iran won’t be allowed to place the world in peril thanks to Israel. And that’s more certain than death and taxes…

  • Barnshee

    A

    Baffled as to why Israel may have “the bomb” but others may not

    Who has the track record on “first strike”, invasion and land theft?

  • Brian

    I have no love for Israel. I think America would have been better off pulling their support for them years ago.

    However, Iran is not just any country. It is ruled by religious hardliners who no longer even pretend to have popular support or legitimacy in their own country. Their President, though on his way out and not in the ultimate power, was indicative of the type of rulers they have in that he would slip letters to the “12th Imam” down a well in hopes that we could come back sooner and the Final Reckoning would be at hand.

    The question is, if it comes down to it, is it really worth military intervention (the more conventional sort, not cyber attacks or sabotage) to stop them or delay them from getting the bomb? Many much intelligent people than I have argued for and against for various reasons and with various logic.

    Either way, the US has less credibility on the world scene, let alone in the Middle East, due to its Iraq misadventure and Bush’s foreign belligerence. US voters, despite traditional support for Israel, are much less likely to support military action in the middle east than they were before the Iraq war and the endless Afghanistan campaign.

    Interesting state of affairs in any event. You have Shia powers like Saudi Arabia secretly urging an American strike, and you have some in the Iranian regime who would welcome an attack as they hope it rally people around their leadership and prove their constant proclamation that the US is the source of all evil.

  • Greenflag

    Alias ,

    ‘The whole world would be at the mercy of religious fanatics. ‘

    Israel has it’s own religious fanatics who are from what I read ‘outbreeding ‘ more secular and reform minded Israelis . So if at some pont in the future these Ultra Jewish fanatics’ come to power what then ? Fanatical Israelis with 200 nuclear weapons and Fanatical Muslim extremists with none ?

    The world btw is already at the mercy of evangelical Christian fanatics with their “Armageddon ‘ is imminent bullcrap .The USA is considering electing a President who believes one of Jesus’s disciples romped around the wild west a few thousand years ago and that ‘Jews’ ancestors could be ‘rebaptised’ as Mormons to ensure that they will meet their latter day descendants in Heaven when Judgement Day /Armageddon comes ?

    Load of crockshit of course but then Hitler was considered a crackpot until he finally got his hands on power and then proved he was no joke .

    The article makes sense btw . Israel to it’s credit has never threatened it’s neighbours with a nuclear attack . That’s because to date Israel has been able to defend itself with conventional forces .

    If the USA can wean itself off it’s dependence on Middle Eastern Oil that will be good for the USA . It’ll just mean more oil supplies for the Chinese and Indians and Indonesians .

    In the event of a conventional war between Israel and it’s neighbours would Israel use it’s nuclear weapons (All 200 of them estimated ) on their neighbouring oil rich countries ? Would Israel use these weapons if Iran or Egypt or some other country in the region had nuclear weapons?

    If there was a nuclear exchange in the Middle East it’s after effects would not be confined to the Middle East but would probably with all those fossil fuel reserves in all of those countries being consumed in a massive fireball which could destroy every living thing on Earth bar bacteria via nuclear winter , crop failures mass famines and triggering off wars everywhere for scarce resources .

    The ‘balance of terror ‘ worked between the Soviet Union and the West for 50 years although there were a couple of occasions when both world powers and Europe avoided mass extinction by a nose .

    Theres no reason to believe that both Israelis and Iranians when faced with their own particular mutually assured destruction will not follow the American& USSR or Pakistan/India examples.

    The danger of pre emptive Israeli attacks on Iran or anywhere else in the Middle East is that it could provoke another Middle Eastern war which would drag in Egypt , Iraq , Syria , etc etc etc and while Israel just about managed to stave off ‘disaster ‘ during the last Israeli /Egyptian war that may not be the case ‘next time ‘ in which case the temptation to resort to ‘nuclear’ defense would be a last option.

    As of now the Israelis have the USA & UK by the proverbial short and curleys to put it crudely . If those nations do not stop the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons ‘we’ the Israelis will .

    A comparison with the big banksters gun to the head of USA & UK governments in 2008 threatening to destroy their economies would not be far fetched -except in this case it’s the physical lives of ‘billions of people worldwide’ who are the pawns up for ante in this ‘lunatic ‘ standoff in the Middle East .

  • Mister_Joe

    Barnshee,

    You’re missing the point of the NPT; it’s to stop proliferation. But once a country gets the bomb, it’s too late for them. Geniis can’t be put back into bottles.

  • andnowwhat

    According to israel, it’s constantly getting attacked. It also whinges when Lebanon fires a round off at an iraeli fighter plane that’s in it’s territory (as the Lebanese are perfectly entitled to), something that happens frequently.

    The Arab spring has highlighted that it is not israel’s possession of nukes that keeps many of it’s neighbour’s at bay but the west’s support of corrupt, evil undemocratic countries. America’s good friends in Egypt, the evil and corrupt army, were sure to do all they could to stop the incoming administration from a complete policy change on the relationship with israel and even ensured that the parliament was in flux whenever the Muslim Brotherhood took office.

    Hilary Clinton wasted no time (remember how late in the day her president waited before finally turning on Mubarak, how many deaths he did not strongly condemn) in going to Egypt, no doubt to ensure that her obsession, israel, is ok and no doubt, to give a few sweeteners. What other democracy in the world would get away with doing what israel is doing in Gaza/West Bank without being condemned and military action following? Of course america, Britain and israel fight each and every action, be it cultural or political, that recognises Palestine as state because they know that if it were, the occupation would be called for what it is, a foreign invasion.

    Fair play to the IOC for recognising the Palestinian team and sod israel for demnading a minute’s silence at the opening of the games to “commemorate Minich”.

  • Stu DeNimm

    It’s too short sighted to argue that any power should get nuclear weapons on the grounds that its leaders are (in this case barely) responsible enough to refrain form international aggression. The IR of Iran does not have a record of aggression, but it is run by religious fanatics. More importantly, once a state has nukes, it will probably have them for the rest of its history, and, as in the ex-USSR, it’s successor states will probably have them too. Who knows what the future leaders of Iran or any other country might be like.

    A better way to address the imbalance of power is for the US to cut off support for Israel and intelligence sharing, ban private American funding as contributions to a foreign terrorist organization, and ban Americans from serving in the Israeli military and intelligence services. Demand intrusive inspections there by a credible force (not an American one), finding and destroying its WMD capabilities. Israel really doesn’t have much choice but to comply with American directives.

  • Mister_Joe

    Israel really doesn’t have much choice but to comply with American directives.

    Stu,

    You’re ignoring the record. Didn’t Obama tell them a couple of years ago to stop building on Palestinian land?

  • Alias

    Greenflag, deterence works on the principle that nobody wants to die. That principle doesn’t apply when martrydom enters the equation. While suicide bombers may have been invented by the Deputy First Minister of NI, it is Islam, not Catholicism, that has made the greatest use of them.

    Here is an example of Waltz’s reliance on bogus non-prededents as his form of ‘logic’:

    “Some analysts even fear that Iran would directly provide terrorists with nuclear arms. The problem with these concerns is that they contradict the record of every the of nuclear weapons state going back to 1945. History shows that when countries acquire the bomb, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware that their nuclear weapons make them a potential target in the eyes of major powers. This awareness discourages nuclear states from bold and aggressive action.”

    His argument amounts to no more than ‘it hasn’t happened before, therefore it never will’. Of course, Nagasaki and Hiroshima hadn’t happened before they happened, so according to Waltz they never could have happened and so never did! Just because it hasn’t happened before does not mean it never will happen.

    Does the muppet really think that Hitler would have been discouraged from “from bold and aggressive action” by such “awareness”? That is what he is claiming would have occured.

  • Mister_Joe

    Personally, I think that any State that has the bomb, faced with an existential threat, will use it.

  • andnowwhat

    Yep Joe and didn’t israel just make a complete dick of Obama and especially Biden (when he was meeting Bibi)

  • andnowwhat

    Joe

    Surely it’s one thing to nuke a nation thousand of miles away, another to nuke a neighbour? I’m referring to the aftermath

  • Mister_Joe

    andnowwhat,

    Note that I said “existential” threat. It would be over anyway so they wouldn’t care about an aftermath.

  • origin

    Gerry – an interesting article, although one that I fundamentally disagree with. Is your analysis interested bystander or are you privy to some professional information here?

    I think much more could be said for the incredibly destabilising Sunni-Shia arms race that this would spur across the region.

    A nuclear Iran is a far from desirable outcome, and would simply lead to further instability across the ME, with Hezbollah, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iraq dramatically affected by the mere thought – to name but a few.

    The US should have sold Israel the new bunker-buster 9 months ago, and the Israelis used it 6 months ago at most (flying over Saudi airspace). The consequences would have amounted to proxy attacks on Israel which Jerusalem would, I believe, find an acceptable price. Russia want Iran on a short leash and a nuclear Iran gives them clout in the region which is unacceptable in Moscow.

  • Greenflag

    Alias ,

    ‘That principle doesn’t apply when martrydom enters the equation.’

    Islamic ‘fanatical’ martyrs to date have been as always the foot soldiers -the weak -the confused -the brainwashed just like ‘martyrs ‘ everywhere who believe their deaths help achieve the politicalor military goals of their leader, messiah , dictator etc etc etc .

    The thing about nuclear weapons is that they don’t distinguish between ‘martyrs ‘ and the Leader /President /Ayatollah /Dictator / Chief Thug .

    Can you name any major Islamic religious leader or politician who has volunteered for ‘martyrdom’ and who has actually committed ‘martyrdom’ and is now enjoying the promised 72 houris ?

    Gutless f***kers like all their ilk -be they Islamic , Christian or Jew .They use the easily led and gullible to further their own personal ends .Always have and always will 🙁

    Nagaski and Hiroshima happened because the Japanese could not retaliate with a similar weapon . Had they had the A bomb and the ability to nuke Los Angeles or San Francisco etc in retalitation the USA might have been less gung ho. They also happened because the ‘bomb ‘ scientists and military wanted to see what would happen in a real life sorry death situation.

    If Hitler had obtained the bomb he would have used or threatened to use it on the UK or Soviet Union or whoever stood in his way . On the other hand if they also had the bomb even Hitler would have baulked and if he had’nt his Generals would have made sure he baulked .

    This Friday yarn might help you to get to grips with the kind of ‘thinking’ that permeates the minds of those who have their fingers on the red button no matter their nationality .

    ‘How many atom bombs would you need to destroy France ‘? asked General Haig’s son (Cold War era)

    ‘France ?’ said Haig ‘I really don’t know , son . Why thirty or forty , I should imagine ‘!

    “And Britain ‘?
    ‘Hard to say son , twenty five -thirty perhaps at most 40’

    ‘And the USA ‘Can’t say I ever really thought about it . Ninety or one hundred maybe ‘?

    ‘And the Soviet Union ‘?

    ‘hundred and thirty three , son exactly !’

    As of now the USA has more than 10,000 nuclear missiles , bombs and Russia also has thousands more than enough to destroy the entire planet several times over .

  • Zig70

    Don’t think anyone should have nukes, but those who have nukes can’t criticise others for getting nukes too. They have no moral stand point.

  • Just to clarify a few things:

    1. I am not a fan of Iran getting the bomb or indeed the Iranian régime – these guys hang people for being gay, remember. But I doubt, short of a successful land invasion, that they can be prevented from doing so in the short-to-medium term. I don’t see any US-led land invasion of Iran being successful (the very idea is laughable) so I suppose that means, one way or another, Iran is going to have the bomb. Might as well get used to the idea.

    2. I’d like to live in a world where nuclear weapons weren’t gradually proliferating, but then again I’d also like to live in a world where the tooth fairy existed and it only ever rained at night.

    3. Since the Revolution, Iran hasn’t actually invaded any other countries, which is more than we can say for the United States and Israel, supposedly the two paragons of virtue in this story.

    4. Ahmadinejad is not an all powerful autocrat; in any decision to proceed towards weaponisation, let alone actually drop The Bomb, the Ayatollahs and the military will count for a lot more than he does. They are not mad even if he is, frankly, unhinged.

    5. Suicide attacks have been a feature of many armies and many ideologies and many Armies throughout history. Their most prolific exponent in recent times was the Tamil Tigers (mostly Hindus with a smattering of Catholics and mostly not especially religious anyway). American and British war films habitually glorified the man who gave up his life to take out a few dozen of the other bastards. Both the Soviet and Chinese Red Armies specialised in it, in WW2 and the Civil War respectively, and the Japanese, of course, had the kamikazes. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was a suicide attack (and it’s only a pity they didn’t take a few more Nazi bastards with them). Thinking that suicide attacks are a recent, Muslim, invention is inaccurate and leaping from that to concluding that Iran will, as soon as it has
    The Bomb, use it to attack Israel, regardless of the fact that Israel can render pretty much the whole of Iranian territory into a nuclear wasteland at the drop of a hat is the maddest thing I’ve heard here.

    6. Can someone spell out to me, in simple terms, what advantage, perceived or real, Iran accrues by passing The Bomb onto anyone else? Can someone also tell me which countries Iran is ideologically comfortable enough with to pass on The Bomb to? Because the last time I checked that was zero. Does anyone really think Iran is going to give The Bomb to Lebanese Hezbollah? Really? Why?

    7. People have short memories. Compared to China in the grip of the Cultural Revolution (when it had The Bomb), today’s Iran is moderation and ideological realism incarnate.

    8. I’m going to repeat my first point again – I’m not convinced there’s anything anyone can do to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons if it wants to.

  • origin

    Fair points Lynch – to add, Hezbollah wouldn’t get the bomb, but would feel much freer to act both within Lebanon and in attacking Israel knowing that their patron has such a weapon.

    And I think the Ayatollah Khomeini is just as mad as the other one!

  • As I’ve said before, it does seem churlish for the Prods, the Catholics, the Hindus, the Sunnis, the communists each to have the Bomb but not the Shias. it will give them parity within Islam, and parity within the big faith groups.

  • lamhdearg2

    It wont be long now.

  • lamhdearg2

    Anyone with an interest in the Iran/Israel situ, would do well, if only to counter the wests (usa) view on it, to visit the Al-Manar web news site.
    Thats when its not being blocked (tinfoil) by the C*A.

  • lamhdearg2

    Example, of the “wests line” (usa zionist) excepted as fact. this only happened this week, yet We already except Irans/hezbollah guilt

    “Iran has long sponsored or encouraged terrorist attacks by proxies against its enemies, and as we saw in Bulgaria this week, it continues to do so.”

  • Alias

    “Personally, I think that any State that has the bomb, faced with an existential threat, will use it.”

    That’s the procedure. If attacked with nuclear weapons, the state will retaliate with nuclear weapons. If the attack is designed to destroy the state, the counterattack will have the same capacity. Mutually assured destruction means what it says on the tin. It does not depend on the state of mind(s) of those who are authorised to make that decision. Nobody can predict how a state and a people facing such existential threat will react in the final moments of their existence so the procedures are already in place to automate the process.

    If folks want to place their own survival in the unstable mullahs and regimes in that part of the world then that is political correctness gone mad, particularly when their command and control procedures concentrate power in the hands of the mad and the bad.

  • @Stu DeNimm – you are not correct to say that successor states are inevitable. Both the Ukraine and Kazakhstan returned their nuclear weapons to Russia after the breakup of the USSR; they were simply too expensive to maintain. No-one really wants a nuclear weapons accident with fallout leak in their country, do they?

    South Africa, another country with a working nuke, abandoned it after 1994 (again, largely on cost grounds). Brazil and Argentina, believe it or not, kept themselves on a sort of one month to weaponisation programme for a decade or so under their equally crazy and equally right-wing dictators then backed out under democracy when they realised it was stupid and their voters cared more about whether or not their mother died in a crappy state hospital.

    As for Iran, I genuinely don’t want to see those guys get the bomb, but the cost of intervention is potentially World War 3 (the probability, while low, is far from zero), and the benefits limited. The cost of a conventional failure is equally disastrous for the West. The costs of allowing them to have The Bomb, or better yet, 3-month readiness weaponisation capability under Russian supervision, are relatively low. We all get into a Mexican stand-off and it probably forces us to grow up.

    I mean, seriously, they know that a single nuke fired at Israel, even if intercepted, would provoke instant retailiation by, let’s say, about a third of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Israel’s entire defence doctrine depends on it. Enough to kill well over half of its heavily urbanised population instantly (one-sixth of which enormous number, and a higher fraction yet of GDP, is in Tehran alone) and more or less bomb the country back into the Stone Age. I mean, a few remote peasants’ lives would be little changed (except for the fallout), but even if you survived in your bunker, the comfortable senior public lifestyle currently afforded to Ayatollahs and senior military personnel, as in any country. By the way, Orthodox Shi’ism is far from puritan, except as far as alcohol is concerned.

    Of course, there could also be some Sarajevo 1914 scenario, but that seems in even more likely in a botched intervention. Iran, with The Bomb and secure in its borders, does what of strategic importance to the United States?

  • Greenflag

    @ Gerry Lynch ,

    ‘Thinking that suicide attacks are a recent, Muslim, invention is inaccurate and leaping from that to concluding that Iran will, as soon as it has The Bomb, use it to attack Israel, regardless of the fact that Israel can render pretty much the whole of Iranian territory into a nuclear wasteland at the drop of a hat is the maddest thing I’ve heard here.’

    Well said . Perhaps not the maddest but up there with the most paranoid .

    8. ‘I’m going to repeat my first point again – I’m not convinced there’s anything anyone can do to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons if it wants to.’

    True . But not just that .The cost of prevention will undermine even more whatever western influence remains in the Islamic world . Its a no win for the USA and Israel will sooner or later have to accept that it’s best defense is an outbreak of genuine democracy right across the Arab and Islamic world . Preemptive attacks on Iranian facilities will just make the Israeli State even more of a pariah state than it already is fast becoming:(

  • Alias

    “Thinking that suicide attacks are a recent, Muslim, invention is inaccurate and leaping from that to concluding that Iran will, as soon as it has The Bomb, use it to attack Israel, regardless of the fact that Israel can render pretty much the whole of Iranian territory into a nuclear wasteland at the drop of a hat is the maddest thing I’ve heard here.”

    Then you are ignorant of the facts, since the destruction of Israel is the declared policy of Iran, and its attempt to acquire the means to carry out its policy is fully consistent with its declared intent. Why don’t we let Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, comment on this?

    “The Talmud, the canon of Jewish religious law, “teaches them [the Jews] how to destroy non-Jews” and Zionists “incite the global drug trade and addiction in a bid to annihilate non-Jewish communities”. These declarations, by the Vice-President of Iran, Mohammed-Reza Rahimi, shocked participants at an international anti-drug conference in Teheran in June.

    Those, on the other hand, who carefully watch the rhetoric and behaviour of the Iranian leadership were not surprised. Anti-Semitism is deeply embedded in the elite of this Islamic state, so deeply as to be part of the state’s raison d’etre. The regime propagates and exports Jew-hatred using the state-run media, websites, films and international fora. In a state-sponsored movie, an Orthodox-looking Jewish rabbi teaches his grandson to kill Palestinians; in a TV series, fiendish Israeli doctors steal their eyes. At the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2005, classic texts of anti-Semitism, including the long-discredited hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purporting to show a Jewish scheme for world domination, were on display at the Iranian stand.

    Since the collapse of the communist bloc, Iran is the only state to make anti-Semitism official policy, based on the theological legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini, the ideological ‘father’ of the 1978 revolution, who belonged to a strand of Shia Islam that considers all infidels, especially Jews, to be impure and unclean. The regime co-operates with groups in Europe on both the radical right and radical left that promote Jew-hatred, and the favours are returned: the Hungarian far-right Jobbik party recently demonstrated in protest against the US-led sanctions on Iran. The ideology can take on a violent dimension, as when, in 1994, the regime’s agents bombed the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, killing dozens of people.

    An integral part of this anti-Semitism is the official policy of denying the Holocaust. It was the theme of a major conference in Teheran in 2006 and a follow-up exhibition there in 2007. It permeates the statements of Iran’s political leaders, army generals, clerics and ambassadors. In July 2011, its ambassador to Uruguay Hojatollaji Soltani mused thus in Montevideo: “maybe a few thousand died… but 2 million, 3 million, 6 million? This is a lie.”
    What is the rationale for this seemingly insane denial of an event for which the empirical evidence is overwhelming? In the twisted logic of the leadership, the establishment of the state of Israel is seen as the outcome of the guilt feelings produced among Europeans by the Holocaust. Deny that it ever happened and you remove simultaneously the reason for the ‘guilt’ and the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. This is further developed by turning the charge of genocide against the Jews, demonizing them as the agents of a ‘holocaust’ against the Palestinians. Moreover, the virulence of Iran’s anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in leading the campaign against the Jewish state enhances the regime’s authority in the Muslim world.

    Anti-Semitism/Holocaust denial are but one component of a three-part strategy, providing ideological support for the other two – (i) the development of a military nuclear capacity and (ii) the promotion of terrorism by its proxies, Hizbullah (currently with 60,000 rockets targeted on Israel) and Hamas, both committed to Israel’s destruction. As in 1930s Europe, demonization and delegitimisation are the precursors of the (intended) annihilation.

    It is part of officially declared Iranian policy to eliminate Israel. The 2005 declaration by President Ahmadinejad that Israel must be “wiped off the map” was downplayed by those in the West who prefer to turn away from unpleasant realities. However, the same threat has since been repeated often. Only last December, Ahmadinejad declared that “all the problems in the world” are caused by US power and the existence of Israel.

    Nor can such threats be disregarded as the ravings of an isolated madman. The Supreme Ruler, Ali Khamenei, echoing Ayatollah Khomeini, this year called Israel “a cancerous tumour [that] will be removed”. Other leaders have echoed him. Long before the 1978 revolution, Khomeini had condemned the founding of Israel as a conspiracy against Islam and called the land of Palestine an Islamic Waqf (trust) in which an infidel state can never be allowed to exist (the same principle as laid down in the Hamas Charter).

    Iran’s regime is dangerous, not only to Israel, but to Iran’s neighbours in the Arab Gulf and even more to its own people, who, since the rigged 2009 elections, have suffered a further loss of their civil rights along with the world’s highest per capita execution rate.

    What can be done in the face of such a serious threat to peace? Citizens of democratic and free nations need to educate themselves about the dangers arising from the Iranian regime’s activities and demand that their leaders expose and reject them. In particular, its declarations of intent to eliminate Israel must be roundly condemned.

    Only one country in the world calls for the annihilation of a fellow member state of the UN. Unfortunately, only some have yet condemned it for doing so.”

  • Alias

    “Well said . Perhaps not the maddest but up there with the most paranoid .”

    Stop brown-nosing, Greenie. 😉

    As you well know, the reference was in response to this post from you to me:

    Alias ,

    ‘The whole world would be at the mercy of religious fanatics. ‘

    Israel has it’s own religious fanatics who are from what I read ‘outbreeding ‘ more secular and reform minded Israelis . So if at some pont in the future these Ultra Jewish fanatics’ come to power what then ? Fanatical Israelis with 200 nuclear weapons and Fanatical Muslim extremists with none ?

    The world btw is already at the mercy of evangelical Christian fanatics with their “Armageddon ‘ is imminent bullcrap .The USA is considering electing a President who believes one of Jesus’s disciples romped around the wild west a few thousand years ago and that ‘Jews’ ancestors could be ‘rebaptised’ as Mormons to ensure that they will meet their latter day descendants in Heaven when Judgement Day /Armageddon comes ?

    Hence, my response:

    “Greenflag, deterence works on the principle that nobody wants to die. That principle doesn’t apply when martrydom enters the equation. While suicide bombers may have been invented by the Deputy First Minister of NI, it is Islam, not Catholicism, that has made the greatest use of them.”

    It is quite clear (ignoring McGuinness being the inventor of the ‘human bomb‘ as opposed to the suicide bomber) that the reference is to a culture of martrydom being a condition of Islam as opposed it being a condition of the other religions that you referred to.

    This irrational belief among Islamic fantatics that they will be rewarded by Allah for martrydom renders them outside of the scope of deterence theory which is predicated on the premise that nuclear weapons won’t be used because their use would lead to the destruction of those using them. It is assumed that death is seen as something to be avoided, and hence a deterence, rather than something to be desired.

  • lamhdearg2

    “in the hands of the mad and the bad.” as opposed to the good and the sane western leaders.

    Alias, you will note that when it comes to martrydom operations, the leaders never put themselves forward, they have too much to lose.

  • RepublicanStones

    Hi guys. Certainly a very interesting piece by Waltz. it is however nice to come back to Slugger and see the usual suspects still

    “Iran getting nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race.”

    What utter crap Alias. Trying to infer that Israel getting the bomb hasn’t encouraged others to seek it. Ridiculous. It started long ago.

    What would also occur is that Iran would use its nuclear weapons to create Islamic states elsewhere in the world by arming regimes and terrorist groups, with no state able to prevent it without risking nuclear attack from Iran.

    And your proof for this is exactly…what?

    That principle doesn’t apply when martrydom enters the equation

    Lovely bit of islamophobia there. Again i ask where’s your proof for that? Before the attack dogs rounded on him,
    Ehud Barak admitted Iran was a rational actor as did US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.
    Lets be clear those seeking to infer irrationality on the part of Iran, are simply seeking to maintain US hegemony in the region as well as Israel’s military QME. It is a reduction of US ability for power projection in the region thats really the issue. But that doesn’t really sound too good. So in order to facilitate a possible war to reinforce US/Israel as the top dog in the region, we get these pearl clutching op-eds and screeds which have Israel under impending doom or a second holocaust on the way.
    Thinking that Iran’s unsavoury rhetoric with regard to Israel means it will launch a nuke against is not backed up by any evidence. Ahmadinejad’s desire to see the ‘Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem pass from the pages of time’ is not evidence of an impending nuclear attack should Iran get the bomb.
    In fact Ahmadinejad has suggested a rather novel way of bringing this about…by giving Palestinians the vote. He is even on record saying if the Palestinians wish for a two state solution, Iran will accept their wishes. But that matters little right? because the Palestinians would be wiped out too if Iran launches its nuke. And we know how much Iran despises the Palestinian cause.

    And those of you thinking a strike on Iran’s possible nuclear sites will solve the problem are drinking the Osiraq kool-aid.

    http://guerrillathoughts.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/pushing-the-osiraq-kool-aid/

    And hey, how awesome would it be for Israel to be worrying about possible Iranian nuclear capability in the future if you have attacked the country outright in the past. That really will alleviate the stress.

    In the interests of furthering the debate here is a take-down by Colin Kahl of Waltz’s piece, with a Waltz rebuttal.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137781/colin-h-kahl-and-kenneth-n-waltz/iran-and-the-bomb

    It should be noted that this use of proxies, sponsorship of terrorism argument is one in which the US has a far richer and bloodier history than Iran. One need only look to Uncle Sam’s ‘backyard’ (Latin America) never mind the rest of the globe, to see that to be the case.

  • Greenflag

    @Alias ,

    Irrational beliefs are not confined to Islamic fanatics .

    Here’s the English Catholic contingent

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_martyrs_of_the_English_Reformation

    And here’s the English Protestant contingent

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_persecutions.

    Nobody doubts that the current Iranian regime and leader is a nut job but as ‘lamhdearg2’says above the ‘leaders’ never put themselves forward and generals are renowned for their tendency to keep well behind the front lines .

    Sanctions are the way to deal with Iran and they are working just as they eventually did in South Africa . Pre-emptive attacks by Israel would just reinforce the power of the mad mullahs . The Iranians are on the verge of overthrowing their regime from within anyway and the days of the Ayatollahs are numbered . The West should leave Iran alone to sort out it’s political future . There is a history of inept stupidity in dealing with Iran on the part of both the UK and USA going back to the 1950’s . Israel doesn’t need to add to that history.

  • DT123

    The first job of western governments is to protect their citizens.Allowing “mad muslims” to aquire a nuclear arsenal,would be failing in that duty.

    If there is the slightest chance of Iran or any similar nation getting a nuclear bomb,their related infrastructure should be obliterated.Tough luck on the “bleeding hearts”,but the safety of the West comes first.

  • lamhdearg2

    DT123
    Here was one mans response to that sort of thinking

    ” To arms, to arms
    Hooray! That’s great, two legs ain’t bad
    Unless there’s a crate they ship the parts to mama in
    For souvenirs: two ears (Get down)
    Not his, not hers but what the hey
    The good book says, “It’s gotta be that way”
    But their book says, “Revenge the crusades”
    With whips ‘n chains and hand grenades
    Two arms, two arms
    Have another and another
    Our God says, “There ain’t no other”
    Our God says, “It’s all ok”
    Our God says “This is the way”
    It says in the book, “Burn and destroy”
    And repent and redeem and revenge and deploy and rumble thee forth to the land of the unbelieving scum on the other side
    ‘Cause they don’t go for what’s in the book and that makes ’em bad
    So verily we must choppeth them up and stompeth them down
    Or rent a nice French bomb to poof them out of existence while leaving their real estate just where we need it to use again for temples in which to praise our god, ’cause he can really take care of business.

  • Alias

    “Irrational beliefs are not confined to Islamic fanatics .” – Greenflag

    We’re all aware of the Inquisition, but what has that got to do with whether or not a fundamentally irrational and fanatical regime such as Iran should have nuclear weapons?

    As I pointed out to you, deterrence theory is predicated on an assumption that is outdated and no longer valid in this situation – a situation never envisioned when McNamara incorporated game theory into defence policy.

    “This irrational belief among Islamic fantatics that they will be rewarded by Allah for martrydom renders them outside of the scope of deterence theory which is predicated on the premise that nuclear weapons won’t be used because their use would lead to the destruction of those using them. It is assumed that death is seen as something to be avoided, and hence a deterence, rather than something to be desired.”

    In addition to the previously outlined reason, there are other reasons why deterrence theory doesn’t apply. It is also assumed that states which nuclear weapons care about the welfare of their citizens. This bond between rulers and the ruled is extremely weak in the middle-east. Yet another is that these regimes are inherently unstable, frequently being replaced with cruder and more despotic regimes that are just as unstable.

    In all of these regimes power is concentrated at the top with none of the decentralised command and control structures that apply elsewhere. There are no dissenting voices because they are swiftly disposed of, so the mad rulers become ever madder in their isolation. That is why Iraq could freely engage in the mass-murder its own citizens and why Iran can execute its own citizens on the basis of their sexuality. A sane state neither produces nor tolerates a mad mullah such as the president of Iran – it produces him because it has shaped him and he in turn shapes it.

    Another reason still is that middle-east states are religious divisions rather than ideological in the way that characterised the Cold War. When these fanatics talk about a religious duty to remove all non-Muslims from the middle-east they mean it, and it isn’t in any way ideological and rational. It is their sacred duty and that is how they describe, so while the West might not be able to process that mentality and duly by-passes it, it does so at its own peril. It matters not one iota before Allah that a few million Muslims will also die for these fanatics to receive their eternal reward by cleaning his soil of infidels. They have a saying for this “Allah will know his own.” It means, as these fanatics frequently say, that Allah regards it as alright for Muslims to die in attacks aimed at non-Muslims.

    Also, on a national level, most of these Arab nations utterly detest each other. If the bogus application of political correctness leads you to think that these fanatics are just like you, think again. The middle-east is not the West, and your mindset doesn’t help you to undertand the region.

  • Mister_Joe

    Alias,

    I have been following your arguments. Now, if Iran wants to develop the bomb, it seems that they have the technical capability to do so. The available evidence would appear to indicate that they are, indeed, on the road to doing so. So, let’s assume that this is what they are intending to do and, that it is only a matter of time.
    What specifically do you suggest the “west” should do?

  • Alias

    “What specifically do you suggest the “west” should do?”

    It should, of course, pony-up and defend itself against nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the regime rather than waiting for Israel to do its dirty work for it.

    Obama doesn’t have what it takes either so it’s a case of Israel going it alone. Iran will use its Arab proxy terrorists in close vicinity of Israel to vent its fury on innocent civilians as is its custom, despite the fact that the Iranians also detest Arabs…

    At some point the nukes will have to be used if Iran decides to take it further but it is 100% certain that Israel will not allow Iran to get the bomb.

  • Mister_Joe

    “Specifically”?
    Do you think the USA should bomb Iran? Invade it?
    I have no doubt that if Iran uses a nuclear weapon against Israel, Iran will be utterly destroyed. Back to even earlier than the stone age. But, by then, it will be too late.

  • Alias

    Joe, Israel is just a small country with about the same population as Ireland. Iran’s population is 75 million, with a reserve army of 11 million. Israel can’t win a land war without the US. If the US turns its tail and runs then tactical nuclear weapons will have to be used. Israel will do whatever it has to do to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons but you’re looking at a window that is closing fast. We’ll know in a matter of months.

  • lamhdearg2

    if obama wins the zionists are F*****, if the religious fanatic wins we are all F*****.

  • tacapall

    Why Iran should get the bomb ?

    The reality is Iran already has nuclear weapons and this “conditioning” of people to the possibility or the likely outcome of the Iranians having the technology to build a nuclear bomb is just a carefully manufactured laying of the foundations for a full scale invasion of Iran by Corporate America and its globalist partners for the rights to Iran’s untapped oil. I think we are well passed the point of giving the western led NATO the benefit of the doubt when it comes to believing that these Arab spring uprisings are about human rights and democracy. Strangely enough Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lybia, Syria, Yemen are also all oil producing countries with vast untapped reserves coupled with the fact that they were all meeting at one time or another discussing the possibility of changing to “Oil for gold” rather than the dollar. Afghanistan looks more like Mars or the moon but that didn’t stop the same people from invading it under the guise of human rights or the fight against terrorism but in reality its about Afghanistan’s huge exotic mineral reserves worth trillions of dollars.

    “David Cameron was facing damaging questions over his diplomatic style and judgment last night after making a throwaway claim that Iran had nuclear weapons.

    The PM was branded a foreign policy ‘klutz’ after the gaffe, made during a public meeting screened on live television.

    Downing Street quickly tried to dismiss his remark as a mistake. Officials said Britain continues to believe that the Tehran regime is trying to develop a nuclear bomb but has not yet done so”

    “Limits on Chinese exports could increasingly mean that high-tech equipment made with rare earths will only be made in China.

    General Electric led a small parade of American manufacturers testifying to Congress this month urging the country to spur its own production.

    At stake isn’€™t just the ability to make a better cell phone (tiny magnets make for tiny speakers) or a sharper television picture (the phosphor red in screens comes from europium). The elements are critical to oil refineries and cutting-edge medical care. And rare earths play a growing role in making our modern military more modern.

    Some in Congress have suggested the country’s national security is threatened if supplies run too short”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Afghanistan/us-geologists-discover-wealth-mineral-deposits-afghanistan/story?id=10909407#.UAvktaA7G1s

    “It has some of the world’s remaining unexploited world class deposits of copper, iron ore and some other fairly exotic minerals. And it has some limited natural gas. The estimates of the worth of these deposits are quite substantial,” he said.

    Petraeus told a Congressional committee three months ago that what makes these deposits valuable is that they are “a couple of the only world-class fields left.”

  • These days I use a simple bench mark, when the US government tells the world this or that state is a grave threat to world peace it means in reality they pose no, or very little threat.

    We have heard all this crap before about North Korea, Iraq, Syrian WMDs, (gas, etc) and the ridiculous regime in Iran, which in the US has replaced the USSR as the bogeyman which threatens world peace and prosperity. Please! Big business, especially the banks pose a far greater threat than this bunch of religious freaks.

    If the current bunch of shysters who govern the USA, the Bush’s and Obama’s, had been in power during the Cuban missile crises, we would have all become toast. They are all war, war, when what we need is jaw, jaw. If they were not so powerful, thus dangerous, they would be a pathetic and bad joke.

    As greenflag pointed out correctly its foot solders who carry out suicide bombing, when was the last time any leader above lance corporal exploded a car bomb or suicide vest?

    Whether it is G W Bush raining down high explosives on Baghdad or Ali Khamenei with his nose in the koran in Tehran, when the shit hits the fan they and their families are safe in there well protected bunkers.

    Believe it or not Shia Iran is not the first port of call for those who do such dastardly acts.. Nor unlike the USA and UK, does Iran have a history of invading other peoples countries, indeed the reverse is true, after the US green lighted Saddam’s to attack Iran they suffered millions of dead and wounded. The Iranian people understand better than most where such reckless actions can lead to.

    Try and get these things into perspective and remember unlike Israel and many other States which have the bomb, Iran has at least signed a certain nuclear treaty.

  • lamhdearg2

    from the bbc

    “Officials are still struggling to identify a suicide bomber, 48 hours after he killed five Israelis and a local bus driver in Bulgaria.”
    “CCTV footage released earlier from the attack at Burgas airport had shown a white person with long hair”
    “But a (unamed) witness said on Friday the suspect was a dark-skinned man with short brown hair and an Arabic accent, and appeared to be wearing a wig.”

    “The FBI and the CIA are working with Bulgarian investigators on the case”

    the FBI and the CIA, I wonder who they will blame.

  • RepublicanStones

    Good post Mick and despite the ravings of an anti-muslim bigot on this thread and his Huntington clash of civilizations bollocks, the fear-mongering nonsense from a certain ideological grouping in the US and its affiliates in Europe will not wash. History has shown who the aggressive states are in the world and Iran certainly doesn’t rank.

  • It should, of course, pony-up and defend itself against nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the regime rather than waiting for Israel to do its dirty work for it.

    What do you mean by defend itself?

    Do you mean airstrikes? What if they don’t work?
    Do you mean tactical nukes? How do you think the Russians and Chinese will react? What if they don’t work?
    Do you mean a land invasion? If so, with what objectives and with what exit strategy?

    You seem to be assuming a minimal cost option for Israel or America exists. Israel did not hesitate to bomb Syria’s reactor in construction in 2007, so I’m thinking if a minimal cost option was available, they would have taken it years ago.

    I think you need to work out what price you’re willing to pay to stop Iran getting the bomb. There will be some price, and the price you’re willing to pay may well be higher than mine, but I’d like to think policymakers have some sort of idea. Because otherwise, they’d be writing a blank cheque for military escalation in the Middle East, the implications of which I don’t think I need to spell out, with one of Russia’s closest allies. And this is a highly militarised, middle-income country of about 80 million which you might not be able to stop from getting the bomb anyway, which borders Russian proxy-states to its north, American failures writ large on either side, and facing across the Gulf at the Shi’a coast, bubbling into street violence from Dhahran to Bahrain. Russia and China will be actively obstructive from day one, and will supply advanced weapons systems. In China’s case, the oil will probably be worth it anyway.

    And it’s an election year in America. Doesn’t help.

  • Alias

    Gerry Lynch, I think it’s fair comment to say, if somewhat redundant, that just because you intervene doesn’t guarantee you get the results that you want. However, if you don’t intervene, there is a guarantee that you will get the results that you don’t want.

    There are always complications and undesirable outcomes to any conflict and other actors who take one side or the other. The doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence does not require Israel to seek approval from those other states and while deterrence theory does not apply to Islamic fanatics it does still apply to Russian and China. Israel will weigh the short-term unpleasantness from other actors against its own long-term strategic interest and won’t see any reason to allow the former to compromise the latter.

    The alternative approach, sanctions, have proven to be a failed strategy as a means to achieve a desired outcome. With the possible exception of South Africa, they simply don’t work. And nor would Iran’s regime allow any hardship they might impose on its people to prevent it from carrying out Allah’s work of cleaning Allah’s land of its unclean infidels. The regime simply doesn’t care about its people, so sanctions offer no deterrence whatsoever.

    It is not up to me to determine how Israel might carry out its strategic objectives via military means so you’re demanding advance plans from the wrong chap, old chap.

  • Mister_Joe

    Alias,

    I think that if Israel used tactical nukes against Iran, it would become a pariah state in the world and might even cease to exist because of the political/economic fallout (no pun). The USA might even have to disown them. Other neighbouring States would be unlikely to intervene because of the risk to themselves but I doubt that Hezbollah or Hamas would constrain themselves.

  • Alias

    That might be a valid argument, Joe, if international opinion was more important to Israel than its own existence. The evidence is to the contrary. Anyway, isn’t Israel already a pariah state despite famed Jewish control of the media, etc?

    I think Israel will use tactical nuclear weapons against hostile installations in Iran, and if the use joins in, the US will support their use. The Irans aren’t stupid, and have burried these installations beyond the reach of conventional weapons.

    Incidentally, back to this point about the impotence of sanctions that are imposed against these Islamic regimes where the bond between ruler and ruled is extremely weak. We had that darling of the muppet left, Noam Chomsky, informed all and sundry that sanctions against Iraq were killing “5,000 children a month” in Iraq but we also had that Islamic state completely unmoved by the suffering that these sanctions were imposing on their own people. So why inflict suffering on these states when they are proven time and time again to be a failed strategy? No reason other than it allows western governments to do nothing to achieve an aim while pretending that they’re doing something. Of course, as is his custom, the hysterical Chomsky was disseminating third-party propaganda which vastly exaggerated the negative impact of the sanctions, notwithstanding that the true figure was bad enough sans embellishment.

    Hezbollah and Hamas are Iranian proxies, used by Iran to further its own agenda against Israel. The Iranians don’t like Arabs, Joe, and persecute them as a minority in their own state. Just as the Iranians aren’t stupid, Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t stupid either. The relationship is based on mutual interest, not love and affection or support for national aims. To decapitate those terrorist groups Israel would also have to decapitate the regime that supplies them. They’d be remarkably well-behaved after that.

  • Alias

    Joe, there was an interview with Moshe Ya’alon last month that might answer some of your questions, given that he is a former intelligence chief and head of the IDF, and current vice prime minister:

    Interviewer: But you yourself are telling me that the Iranians have already crossed most of the red lines. They have swept past the points of no return. Doesn’t that mean that we are now facing the cruel dilemma of bomb or be bombed?

    YM: We are not there yet. I hope we will not get there. The international community can still act aggressively and with determination. Other developments are also feasible. But if the question is bomb or be bombed, the answer is clear: bomb.

    I’ve altered the quote slightly as the translation from Hebrew was botched. He goes on to say: “Let me say one thing to you in English, because it is very important for English speakers to understand it: ‘We are not bluffing.’”

  • Barnshee

    “At some point the nukes will have to be used if Iran decides to take it further but it is 100% certain that Israel will not allow Iran to get the bomb.”

    When Iran gets the bomb it is 100% certain that fear of retaliation will ensure that Iran is left alone.– 1 nuke delivered will remove Israel from the face of the earth

  • andnowwhat

    Which is the real lunatic state, Iran or israel?

    Recently, the Levy Commission, a blue-ribbon panel of Israeli jurists commissioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to determine the legal status of the Palestinian West Bank, came back with findings and recommendations that represent a potential sea change in Israeli policy in the ongoing conflict. In contrast to mainstream legal opinion as well as the recognised position of the international community, including Israeli allies such as the US and EU, the Commission’s inquiry came back with the unprecedented finding that in fact there is no occupation of Palestinian lands and that the continued construction of settlement outposts, viewed as one of the major roadblocks to a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians, is in fact wholly legal both in the future and retroactively.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/07/2012716133642958170.html

    Well, only one seems to think that has the sole right of cartographer of the Middle East

  • Who’s Next? http://goo.gl/quJUj

    “We’ll try to stay serene and calm
    When Alabama gets the bomb.”