If I was a “serious” foreign policy thinker, there’s no way I could write this post. After all, I wouldn’t be taken seriously, and if you’re a serious foreign affairs type, your job requirement is to be taken seriously. Otherwise, the whole illusion of omniscient expertise you’ve spent your life crafting could start to unravel. Better to stay on the safe side, where all the “incentives” are, and take a serious position that confirms your seriousness. (Ask Les Gelb about that.)
All serious persons think that Iran should not have nuclear weapons. And if I was this kind of figure, I would agree. I would then pretend I’m a nuclear weapons expert, and dazzle you with my command of things like “uranium enrichment facilities” and “fissile materials” and the like. I would go on to give the impression that I’ve spent good chunks of time in Iran without saying so (because of course I haven’t), had intimate knowledge of the motives of the Persian regime(Persians, not Arabs!) and that I had a keen eye for planning large scale military operations, tossing around phrases like “long range tactical missile strikes.” But, as we’ve already established, I’m not going to do any of that. I’m going to take a rather un-serious position.
Do I think Iran should have nuclear weapons? Probably not. In general, it seems like the proliferation of nuclear weapons are a bad idea.
If I was in Iran’s shoes, would I want a nuke? Yes, most certainly, as it would prevent my country from being invaded. (Hate to point this out, but we’ve taken over one country to the east of Iran, and one country to the west of Iran…So they have reasons to be a little nervous, as we’ve kind of surrounded them…)
But do I really care if Iran gets a nuke? Nope, and neither should you.
Why? Because I don’t think Iran would ever use them. If Iran did use them, it would be the end of Iran. Iran, in the memorable words of then candidate Hillary Clinton, would be “obliterated.”
I don’t think Iran wants to be obliterated. Nation states usually shy away from being totally suicidal.
There it is, my argument is that simple.
I came to this conclusion after reading Evan Bayh et al’s statement about the “catastrophic consquences” that Iran would face if they actually got a nuke. The statement said: “We must leave no doubt that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to stop Iran’s nuclear breakout.”
Really? We’re willing to go to war over this? This seems a rather crazed position to take.
I guess the idea is that if Iran got a nuke, they would attack Israel with it, or hand it over, Saddam-style, to terrorists. Hmmm.
A couple of things, all very uninformed.
A) Wouldn’t attacking Israel with a nuclear weapon also destroy the Palestininians? I mean, it’s a pretty small country, and I would think that any nuclear fallout would be a pretty nasty for the folks in the West Bank and Gaza. Because if Iran did attack Israel, they’d have to really blow the shit out of everything. Otherwise, Israel, with their nukes, would quickly go to destroy Iran. Does Iran want to destroy Palestine? I doubt it… B) That reminds me, if Israel was nuked, they would certainly respond with nukes of their own…So again, using a nuclear weapon is a death sentence for Tehran. C) If Iran did use a nuclear weapon on Israel, we would certainly use a nuclear weapon on Iran. D) I’m big fan of Israel, and one thing I know, is that Israel is pretty good at defending itself.
I’m not making a comprhensive case here. I’m just filing my suspicions under “common sense.”
Glenn Greenwald points out the similiarties between how the media/political establishment is acting now and how they acted in the run up to Iraq. One other big lesson we can draw is the failure to ask the profoundly simple questions. It’s a cultural thing. Journalists start interviewing think tank types, political leaders, unnamed officials, academics, all with a stake in pushing a certain narrative. Lots of smart people, talking convincingly to themselves and reading the Atlantic and the New Yorker. “Group think,” as Slate’s Jacob Weisberg called it. Everyone wants to show how smart and nuanced they are, how much inside dope they got. It’s a game of one upmanship to see who can best describe the emperor’s clothes. This means that there are a bunch of questions that are so simple and straightforward that they just don’t get asked. Mainly, questions directed at the fundamental assumptions of our media/foreign policy/political types, on whatever issue. These aren’t considered serious questions. The simple questions have the potential to undermine the dominant media narrative, and where’s the fun in that?