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View Diary: Khatami is In--This is a Clear Signal (309 comments)

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  •  You're spouting the Iranian line (1+ / 0-)
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    No, Israel and Iran do not "deter" one another. The radical Islamicists would gladly accept a nuclear exchange on the premise that they all become instant "martyrs." The clerics in Iran have said as much. Deterrence is not a framework applicable to that situation.

    And Israel is not the sole, or even the chief target of Iranian nuclear capability. The Saudis are much more concerned about Iranian nukes than Israel. It is well understood that Iranian nuclear weapons would drive the Saudis, and probably the Turks to also acquire nuclear weapons. It's just not at all an Israel-Iran standoff.

    The Pakistanis, who are Sunni, would also be displeased, as Iranian nuclear weapons would make the denuclearization of Pakistan and India impossible.

    Nobody wants Iranian nuclear weapons and it will continue to be a major issue if Iran stays on course.

    •  It's nobody's line. It's the underlying (13+ / 0-)

      dynamic behind US-Israeli-Iranian relations: a rational three-way strategic deterrence, which is the status quo.

      The current regime in Tehran does not publicly acknowledge this.  I would be interested in seeing something, anything, from Tehran that says the U.S. effectively plays a deterrent role that restrains Israel.  That would be a remarkable admission.

      As for the myth of Iranian irrationality and wish for matyrdom, they certainly had their chance to respond to repeated U.S., Britain, and Israel provocations two summers ago.  Instead, they were remarkably restrained and showed the central government does have effective command and control over the al Quuds Brigades of the IRG.

      As for nuclear weapons, they are unusable by any party except as a deterrent - Iran's large stockpiles of chemical and (possibly biological) agents serve the same purpose.  Also, Iran has sufficient conventional military power, even without pushing that button, to damage western economies by stopping tanker shipping through the Straits.  Geography and anti-shipping missiles are probably their ace in the deck.

      You are right, however, to point out the complexity added by the Saudis and Turks.  Call it five-way deterrence, which is exactly the pragmatic basis for the Grand Compromise sort of diplomacy that is now taking place.  

      •  well put. (6+ / 0-)

        All I'd add is that the Iranian fundamentalists (typified by Ahmedinejad) seem to be getting sidlined by the clerics.  This bodes well, but the biggest threat I see on the horizon is a Likud win leading to an attack on Iran's nuclear program, putting the fundies back in the driver's seat.

        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

        by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:55:23 AM PST

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        •  Some of the seeming irrationality on (4+ / 0-)
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          dqueue, nailbender, KenBee, FrankCornish

          the part of Israel is bluff.  They have the military capability to destroy some of Iran's program, but not all.  Such an attack would greatly increase the probability that Iran would eventually use the bomb when it gets it, even if that can be delayed several decades.

          Netanyahu is an unattractive candidate, except that he has the potential to be another Begin.  Only Nixon could go to China and negotiate SALT.

          •  Begin never accomplished what (5+ / 0-)

            Rabin was poised to do just before he was assassinated by a Likud-inspired asshole.  And I'll never forget Netanyahu's expression of glee at that atrocity.  It was he, after all, who gained the most from it.

            Begin was to Israel as Arafat was to Palestine, IMO.  Failed leaders both.  I don't see Netanyahu approaching even that low bar.

            "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

            by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:34:29 AM PST

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            •  Perhaps I'm too generous in my (4+ / 0-)
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              Odysseus, dqueue, nailbender, KenBee

              faint praise.  

              But, there's one reason to be optimistic.  No matter how obstructionist the bluster -- today Natnyahu reaffirmed his intention to resist being "pushed around" by Obama -- they've got to understand that there is a point beyond which they cannot go, and even that very high bar has been significantly lowered by the new Administration in Washington.

              Whoever takes over in Jerusalem has few real political options or ability to spring military surprises.  Even Bibi isn't suicidal.

    •  This is a profoundly inaccurate view. (12+ / 0-)

      Iran is a political theocracy like Byzantium, not a horde of suicidal maniacs who would accept the end of their civilization just to get Israel.  The central leadership will not stop some clerics from blustering to that effect, but it simply wouldn't happen.  Old men with power never deliberately accept their own destruction, whatever they claim to believe about afterlife.  The Ayatollah was nervous even about the shit Ahmadinejad was spouting.  It's important to understand Iran isn't just an Islamic state, it's also heir to Persia.

      Moreover, it's important not to overestimate the significance of merely having the weapons.  Iran's missiles are a joke, Israel has the most advanced anti-missile system in the world, and Iran just doesn't have the capability to make anything more complex than low-yield Manhattan Project bombs.  It's also questionable how many they could make, how reliable they would be, and at what rate.  They also couldn't protect their launchers from disabling first strikes.  All they would get is a notional deterrent, and not even a very good one.

      I believe you have my stapler.

      by Troubadour on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:08:12 AM PST

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