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You might remember Paul Pillar. He was the "first high-level CIA" official to state publicly that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify a war with Iraq. In an article for Foreign Affairs in 2006, he wrote:

... official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made...

The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq...

The Bush administration deviated from the professional standard not only in using policy to drive intelligence, but also in aggressively using intelligence to win public support for its decision to go to war. This meant selectively adducing data -- "cherry-picking" -- rather than using the intelligence community's own analytic judgments.

Now just six years later, Pillar is back with a warning — U.S. presidential election year politics could lead the United States into a war with Iran and such a war would be a disaster. The aim of the warhawks is to make starting a war with Iran this year the only option left open to the president.

Pillar writes we must stop now to ask what would change if Iran builds a nuclear bomb?

Writing in the March/April issue of Washington Monthly, Pillar argues that "We Can Live with a Nuclear Iran". He observes that escalating rhetoric against Iran is happening "against the unhelpful backdrop of American election-year politics".

The Republican presidential candidates, with the exception of the antiwar libertarian Ron Paul, have seized on Iran as a possible winning issue and have tried to outdo each other in sounding bellicose about it. Mitt Romney has repeatedly discussed the use of military force as one way of fulfilling his promise that, if he is elected, Iran “will not have a nuclear weapon.”
Members of the Obama administration have also turned up the heat in their words concerning Iran. For example, in a recent interview with The Atlantic, President Obama said:
...what I've emphasized is that preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States, and that when I say we're not taking any option off the table, we mean it...

I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.

Pillar notes Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on "Face the Nation" in response to Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if disruptions happen to Iranian oil sales that "We made very clear that the United States will not tolerate the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz... That's another red line for us and that we will respond to them."

Pillar writes:

In short, both Democrats and Republicans have so ratcheted up their alarm about the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon that they are willing to commit to the extreme step of launching an offensive war—an act of aggression—to try to stop it...

Those in the United States who genuinely yearn for war are still a neoconservative minority. But the danger that war might break out—and that the hawks will get their way—has nonetheless become substantial. The U.S. has just withdrawn the last troops from one Middle Eastern country where it fought a highly costly war of choice with a rationale involving weapons of mass destruction. Now we find ourselves on the precipice of yet another such war—almost purely because the acceptable range of opinion on Iran has narrowed and ossified around the “sensible” idea that all options must be pursued to prevent the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Pillar thinks we must stop and ask, "what difference would it make to Iran’s behavior and influence if the country had a bomb?"
Hardly anyone debating policy on Iran asks exactly why a nuclear-armed Iran would be so dangerous. What passes for an answer to that question takes two forms: one simple, and another that sounds more sophisticated.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are the "most vocal" proponent of the simple answer "Iranian leaders are suicidal jihadists", Pillar writes. The simple answer Santorum, Gingrich, and their ilk give is that Iran's leaders "are religious fanatics who value martyrdom more than life, cannot be counted on to act rationally, and therefore cannot be deterred".

The problem with their view isn't just irony, but that they are flat out wrong. Pillar writes:

In fact, the Islamic Republic’s conduct beyond its borders has been characterized by caution. Even the most seemingly ruthless Iranian behavior has been motivated by specific, immediate concerns of regime survival... Iran’s rulers are constantly balancing a very worldly set of strategic interests...

If the stereotyped image of Iranian leaders had real basis in fact, we would see more aggressive and brash Iranian behavior in the Middle East than we have.

The "more-sophicated" answer is just as wrong according to Pillar.
A dominant feature of this mode of argument is “worst-casing,” as exemplified by a pro-war article by Matthew Kroenig in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs. Kroenig’s case rests on speculation after speculation about what mischief Iran “could” commit in the Middle East, with almost no attention to whether Iran has any reason to do those things, and thus to whether it ever would be likely to do them.

Kroenig includes among his “coulds” a scary possibility that also served as a selling point of the Iraq War: the thought of a regime giving nuclear weapons or materials to a terrorist group. Nothing is said about why Iran or any other regime ever would have an incentive to do this. In fact, Tehran would have strong reasons not to do it. Why would it want to lose control over a commodity that is scarce as well as dangerous?

A dangerous combination occurs with the war proponents when they use "worst-casing" to predict what will happen if Iran develops a nuclear bomb and "best-casing" when they predict what the outcome will be with a war with Iran. "Worst-case speculations" are "not adequate justifications for going to war," Pillar writes. A war is not in the national interest of Iran, Israel, or the United States.
When the debate turns from discussing the consequences that would flow from Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon to discussing the consequences of a U.S. military attack on Iran, the mode of argument used by proponents of an attack changes entirely. Instead of the worst case, the emphasis is now on the best case. This “best-casing” often rests on the assumption that military action would take the form of a confined, surgical use of air power to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities.
But, air strikes alone are not going to thwart Iran's nuclear program. "Only a ground invasion and occupation could hope to accomplish" a nuclear-weapons-free Iran, Pillar writes. Additionally, air strikes requires a "major assault" to destroy, at least, Iran's air defense systems.

Iran will strike back at American interests if attacked. Pillar writes:

No one knows what the full ramifications of such a war with Iran would be, and that is the main problem with any proposal to use military force against the Iranian nuclear program. But the negative consequences for U.S. interests are likely to be severe...

Surely, Iran would strike back, in ways and places of its own choosing. That should not be surprising; it is what Americans would do if their own homeland were attacked.

Additionally, Pillar predicts an attack on Iran "would be an immediate political gift to Iranian hard-liners" and lessen the "emotional gap between Persians and Arabs". This would make the entire Middle Eastern region more dangerous to American interests. Pillar writes:
“There’s only one thing worse than military action against Iran,” Senator John McCain has said, “and that is a nuclear-armed Iran.” But any careful look at the balance sheet on this issue yields the opposite conclusion. Military action against Iran would have consequences far worse than a nuclear-armed Iran.
"It is impossible to ignore how much, in American politics, the Iran issue is an Israel issue," Pillar writes. The Israeli government's recent "talking up the danger of an Iranian bomb" only increases the pressure on Americans to act. He suggests that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, senses a fleeting opportunity with this year's presidential election "to precipitate a conflict in which a preelection U.S. president would feel obliged to join in on Israel’s side."

That may be Netanyahu's aim, but I think it underestimates the president. President Obama is trying to maintain a diplomatic balancing act. Obama said on Sunday at the AIPAC Policy Conference:

Already, there is too much loose talk of war.  Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program.  For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster.  Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built.
I think Obama is correct here. The war rhetoric needs to cool and I think preferably to be quashed.

Military experts in Israel think an attack on Iran would be a bad idea, Pillar explains and "self-declared American friends of Israel are doing it no favor by talking up such a war."

The most recent U.S. intelligence consensus report from 16 agencies concludes Iran is not trying to build a nuclear bomb at this time.  

Although Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, U.S. officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior U.S. officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analysis.
But despite our best intelligence, warhawks have already determined that a military strike is the only option. Romney, for example, is flat out ignoring U.S. intelligence and falsely claiming Iran has a 'nuclear-bomb' program and signally his intent to militarily strike at Iran.

"The same Islamic fanatics who took our diplomats hostage are racing to build a nuclear bomb," Romney wrote today in the Washington Post.

Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must...

Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Romney is imitating the words of then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who said in 2002 as part of the Bush administration's effort to sell an Iraq war:
The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he they can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Evidence? Romney doesn't need it. He and his fellow warhawks have already concluded a "military option" is necessary. 'It's déjà vu all over again.' Americans had this rah-rah to war in the 2000 presidential election when the foe was Iraq. Have Americans forgotten about such wars of choice after just 12 years?

Pillar is right. We can choose to live with a nuclear Iran. A war to prevent a nuclear Iran would be a far worse choice.

Originally posted to Magnifico on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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Comment Preferences

  •  i strenuously object to this diary (20+ / 0-)

    because i'm hoping (if i have time- the next couple weeks will be very hectic) to write one in a similar vein.

    election year fear-mongering from both sides is creating a very dangerous dynamic. and i have no doubt that a gop president right now would be preparing for war.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:16:17 PM PST

    •  Preparing? (7+ / 0-)

      McCain would have already "bomb, bomb, bombed Iran".

    •  me too. We can't have enough of these. n/t (17+ / 0-)

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:14:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Both sides" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany

      What exactly does that mean?

    •  chances are there won't be war this year (0+ / 0-)

      or during Obama's second term.

      The Israelis are not stupid. If they make a first-strike on Iran without a guarantee of American backing, they're toast. And Obama will not give them that, no sir. It would be bad for business.

      2016 will be a different story. It was clear that the 1% had failed to grasp Cheney's insanity when they installed Bush in power. They never understood that Cheney was dead-set on hitting Iran, and only the intervention of Gates and others prevented a catastrophe 10 times worse than the invasion of Iraq. For eight years one life stood between America and Cheney's disastrous agenda; it was that tenuous.

      I predict a similar failure of vigilance in 2016; they will put a Republican in the WH without properly vetting him. Chances are that Obama's successor will be a theocrat who favors hitting Iran for ideological reasons (Jerusalem has to belong to the Jews before the Rapture can begin, etc.), and damn the larger consequences (another Depression, a region-wide war in the ME, and a profound geopolitical realignment that leaves America out in the cold).

      Then again, we could have an Archduke Ferdinand event that would light the whole powder keg on fire tomorrow. So de-escalation would be the prudent course. But we aren't getting that, either from the Republicans or from Obama.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:36:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd say Obama is preparing for war. (0+ / 0-)

      Three carrier battle groups in the region just waiting for an incident.

      •  Is it possible that this is to posit the threat of (0+ / 0-)

        reaction to Iran's threat to close the Straight?

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:10:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pointless posturing (4+ / 0-)

          An Iranian threat to close the Straight of Hormuz as a response to an attack could not be countered by a carrier group.

          The reason is quite simple - asymetrical warfare. The threat could be carried out by a number of means - mines, torpedos carried by naval or civilian fishing boats and air or ground to ship missiles. Missiles could be easily concealed in virtually any medium sized structure facing the Straights. The Israelis have enough difficulty stopping all rocket attacks from Gaza despite overflying and constant surveillance by drones and directly from high ground. What chance would these carrier groups have?

          It is not even necessary for Iran to actually do anything. The threat is enough to choke off movement by oil tankers and you are likely to see less and less shortly. Why? Because the insurance on these tankers will skyrocket as any tension increases. This will make it completely uneconomic to transport through there until the price of oil goes high enough. $300 a barrel oil would destroy the world economy.

          Fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 12:02:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly. Unfortunately there are a lot of (0+ / 0-)

            people under the delusion that we can easily handle it.  You know, things like "we have all their missile sites along the coast already mapped out and could take them all out within 10 minutes".  Of course, the same thing was said about Iraq's mobile SCUD launchers and it took a full ground invasion to take care of those.  If the Iranian military was smart, they would have their anti-ship missiles spread out all along the coast with only one or two missiles per cave and plenty of decoys to go around.

            There is no saving throw against stupid.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 05:46:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Tell this to Bibi Netanyahu (0+ / 0-)
    Pillar is right. We can choose to live with a nuclear Iran. A war to prevent a nuclear Iran would be a far worse choice
    It doesn't sound like he is willing to wait, or that he cares what we think.  I can't say that I blame him.  

    Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

    by SpamNunn on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:17:52 PM PST

    •  The key question is not what we can choose to (0+ / 0-)

      live with.  It's what Israel can choose to live with.  

      Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

      by SpamNunn on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:19:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Naw, it is what we choose to live with (5+ / 0-)

        The USA has veto power over any Israeli strike. Israel's Air Force can't cash the check Israel's hard-liners are writing for it. Israel isn't going to re-fuel over Turkey, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, unless the USA is 100% along for the ride.

        People wanting to discourage was should write the President and tell him you know he can veto an Israeli strike, and that you expect him to do just that.

        •  Do you mean, regarding Israeli (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund

          air strikes, that they "can't cash the check" because of Iran's air strength or are you thinking of regional air strike force or???

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:23:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Israel is too far away for sustained attacks (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cany, Robobagpiper, Odysseus, weasel

            And Iran's air defenses are big and strong enough to that sustained attacks would be needed to defeat them. A lot of bad shit would happen but as for stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons?  Pthhhpt!  That's the short version of it.

            I really am not sure what you mean by the regional air strike question though.

            •  Thanks. That is what I assumed you meant but (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              was not sure.

              What I meant was air strikes against Israel from others in the region.

              So in terms of air strikes, the conventional wisdom is, then, that Israel needs the US strike carriers or? to be able to be successful?

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:47:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm just a layman (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cany, Robobagpiper, Odysseus, weasel

                I a't say everything that would be needed. But a few obvious things Israel needs from the USA would be:

                Re-fueling. more planes to do it but much more importatly the airspace to do it in. Obviously the closer to the targets you can re-fuel the better.

                Closer bases more planes/ships/missiles. Remember the FIRST gulf war? The months of blasting the air defenses? Think that scale again. The aircraft carriers and USAF planes would be needed to fly the thousands of missions needed. Because the public is not going to stand for high-risk air attacks with high loss rates.

                Heavy bombers: We have the planes that can carry the 30,000 pound "bunker busters" and Israel does not.

                30,000 pound  "bunker busters" - another article the US has that Israel does not.

                Atop all this is the maze of political considerations on teh global, regional, domestic level.  

                Basically, the only way Iran is attacked during an Obama administration is if there is a legitimate world-wide consensus and UN backing, like Bush 41 arranged in the first Gulf war.

                •  Okay, thanks! (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Quicklund, Robobagpiper, Odysseus

                  Yes, I remember the first conflict well.

                  What's remarkable about all this is that there seems to be general agreement that no amount of bombing of Iran would actually contain their nuclear program (Panetta, the article and others I have read all concur on this). It would require a ground war to do that it seems. So this is one of those horrid situations that just gets bigger and bigger with no nice, neat strike capability at all regardless of how the issue is being discussed. It has hugely ugly potential.

                  202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

                  by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:14:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Simple, for the Israelis to carry out (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Quicklund, cany

            such an attack would require them to use their F-16s as long range heavy bombers which reduces their ability to maintain air superiority considerably as every extra fuel tank or bomb (especially the heavy bunker busters) they carry means fewer missiles and countermeasures (chaff and flares)  Based on their refueling capability (12 refueling tankers total, probably only 8-10 actually usable at any given time) they could use either 80-100 or 40-50 aircraft per attack depending on whether they need to refuel once or twice assuming they were willing to use all available refueling aircraft.  The Iranian air force could put up a maximum around 200 aircraft though over half of them would be older F4s and F5s.  That combined with their SAM sites could do considerable damage to the attacking Israeli forces.  Of course, if the Iranians manage to sneak a few F4s into Iraq (or wherever) and take down some of the Israeli refueling aircraft then many of those fighters might be forced to ditch rather than return home.

            Of course, that is not taking into account any retaliation which would be a combination of immediate (as in use them or lose them) attacks and asymmetrical attacks later on (such as by anti-ship missiles hidden all along the coast of the straits).

            There is no saving throw against stupid.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 05:55:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Urgency? (7+ / 0-)

      Haaretz, Barak: Israel 'very far off' from decision on Iran attack

      Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel was "very far off" from a decision about an attack on Iran over its nuclear program...

      "We haven't made any decision to do this," and added: "This entire thing is very far off."
      Barak also suggested Israel was coordinating with Washington its plans about handling Tehran's nuclear project which Israel views as an existential threat.

      "I don't think our ties with the United States are such that they have no idea what we are talking about," Barak said.

      When pressed as to whether "very far off" meant weeks or months, Barak replied: "I wouldn't want to provide any estimates. It's certainly not urgent. I don't want to relate to it as though tomorrow it will happen."

      And last year, NYT, Israeli Strike on Iran Would Be ‘Stupid,’ Ex-Spy Chief Says
      Israel’s former intelligence chief has said that a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid idea,” adding that military action might not achieve all of its goals and could lead to a long war.

      The intelligence official, Meir Dagan, who retired in early January after eight years as director of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, made the remarks at a conference here on Friday...

      If it's not urgent for Israel as of January 2012, then why is it urgent for the U.S.? If it's stupid for Israel, what makes it smart for the U.S.?
    •  Israel's best chance (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany, Robobagpiper

      is to force Obama's hand before the election. Take the election out of the picture and Israel has no hold over the administration. And war with Iran is not in our national interest.

      •  I think that has been a big concern for many; (0+ / 0-)

        Which, of course, doesn't make Israel many US friends.
        Forcing us into a conflict is a bad move in terms of US opinion on Israel. At least that is my perception.

        I absolutely do not want another war. Anything I have seen in my 58 years would be dwarfed, imho, by the kind and brutal nature--not to mention violent global fallout (not literally)--that would accompany such a war.

        It would make previous mistakes seem entirely palatable by comparison and we ALL know that isn't the truth.

        I will have to say that I have been pretty upset at Israel for their more recent false flag operations implicating both the US and the Brits.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:31:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We could but now the red line is capability (7+ / 0-)

    isn't it?  Makes sense, attack a country causing untold damage and devastation with possible worldwide major repercussions, risking the lives and welfare of millions and possibly billions, all because a small country might have the capability to develop One nuclear weapon which they would never use anyway.  
    Again, it's the danger, danger scenario to justify taking down a regime and destabilize a country.  They know they could contain a nuclear Iran and there are studies about it.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/...

    A major problem with the Neocons above stated containment policy is the incredible cost.  I actually think they may have described it that way to convince the Congress/Senate that a nuclear Iran would be too expensive and difficult to contain.

    •  Thanks for the link. Started reading this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BigAlinWashSt

      but doubt I can finish tonight. Appreciate it.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:41:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really thank you for writing this. I have been (8+ / 0-)

    narrowing my thinking on this yet felt like I was still all over the map. I just couldn't GRAB fully how to assess where we are and where we should be.

    I've spent months reading on this and considering all sides of the why not to go to war. But THIS makes sense to me.

    Finally!

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:27:27 PM PST

  •  I'm recycling a comment. (7+ / 0-)

    It was good, and I don't have the time right now to write another like it.  It deals with the same basic question, but for full context, please see this diary.

    I’m already against the next war.

    That was a bumper sticker I saw once, and while we may call it simplistic, I find it expresses my present views.  A state of perpetual warfare against a series of made-for-TV bogeymen has become the new normal (a very sharp political scientist once called it "theatrical micromilitarism"), and the long term economic and psychological implications of that state are more than a bit worrisome.  It recently occurred to me that my niece, who turned twelve last November, has no memory of a United States not at war, and very little of that can actually be laid at Osama bin Laden’s fish-nibbled feet.  

    So, let’s just get your question out of the way.

    Iran ≠ Iraq.
    Obama ≠ Bush.

    Okay.  So what?  What, exactly, are you trying to say here?  That we should all be willing to follow Obama into Iran if we’re reasonably certain he wouldn’t tell an outright lie to get us there?  Please specify at some point, but I’m moving on for the moment.

    Now then, as you may know, the United States has a long and proud history of horribly mismanaging our relationship with Iran, often for dubious motives.  For the purposes of this venue, I will take that all the way back to 1953, when American and British agents orchestrated a coup in which Iran’s very popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, was deposed.  He made the mistake of believing that his nation’s mineral wealth should be administered for the benefit of his people, rather than foreign oil barons, and we couldn’t let him get away with that, now could we?  So away he went, and Shah Pahlavi ruled the country with an iron fist and the blessings of the Free World until 1979, when he had made himself so loathed by his people that the Ayatollah Khomeini actually seemed like a step up.  It should go without saying that, after a quarter century or so spent living under the boot of a U.S.-backed petrodictator, and being exploited by the British imperialists who preceded him, the Iranian people perhaps had a legitimate bone or two to pick with us.

    So, now that we’ve settled into a few decades of tolerable, if not comfortable, animosity between our nations, let’s fast forward a bit.  We’ll skip over the fact that we were selling weapons to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, for example.  We’ll skip all the way to the second Bush administration, when our fearless Decider demonstrated a breathtaking lack of understanding by labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the Axis of Evil, as though two fierce rivals and a third wheel on the other side of the planet could ever constitute an effective Axis of Anything.  But aside from playing well for the cameras, our histrionic saber rattling had the effect of undoing quite a lot of slow progress in Iran itself.  See, Iran sort of has two parallel governments, and two parallel militaries to go along with them; there’s a religious side and a secular side, and most of the time they maintain at best an uneasy balance of power.  The secular side of the house had been slowly gaining ground in recent decades, eroding the Ayatollah’s power, but being backed into a corner has a way of sending people into the hard-liners’ camp no matter what country you live in.  So in the early stages of our war in Iraq, when we were not too subtly suggesting that Iran was next, we see them take an about face and the moderate Mohammed Khatami was replaced with the freaky freak we all know and love, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Have you ever read anything about Khatami?  Seriously, look up something called Dialogue Among Civilizations.  That’s the guy we inadvertently got rid of because we were inept political scientists, substituting nuanced foreign policy for just running around the Middle East smashing things with sledgehammers.

    So, while it may be obvious by now, I do not support going to war with Iran no matter who ends up making the call.  Frankly, given that there are light water nuclear reactors that can’t be used to make weapons grade materials, I can’t figure out why we’re not falling all over ourselves to just sell them the damn things and be done with it.  I also think that Iran would make an excellent ally in that region (to add to your list of inequalities, Persian ≠ Arab) and that they aren’t already is really far more our fault than theirs.

    Now, if we were going to go to war with Iran, I have to caution you against thinking that it will be the mere bagatelle that Iraq was.  Saddam Hussein lacked the ability to launch so much as a single aircraft against us and their “navy” never left port; Iran will be a tougher nut to crack, given what remains of the hardware we gave to the Shah and other stuff they’ve managed to acquire since then.  I’d go in expecting to lose a warship or two in the Strait of Hormuz (to mines or ASCMs; they have plenty of both), and to see the price of oil go through the roof given how little will flow through that waterway while hostilities are ongoing.  We would defeat them, for whatever that would be worth, but it would be a very nasty fight in a compressed, asymmetrical battlespace, and you need to not be shocked if one of our CVNs ends up on the bottom next to Osama.  And while I’m pondering this undesirable prospect, I’m also thinking back on a time when American diplomacy was about more than simply issuing demands and then jumping straight to regime change when those demands aren’t met.  Maybe in this case we could try breathing some life back into those atrophied faculties of patience and communication, realizing that our own conduct hasn’t been exactly spotless, and trying to find some common ground as though we truly understood that many thousands of human lives would be horribly cut short if we fail.  How about we actually work up a sweat for peace, just this once.

    So, yeah, I’m already against the next war.  I’d much rather see those resources directed towards investment in renewable energy, or even in Newt’s freaking moon base, than see it squandered in yet another pointless bloodbath.

    Deepest apologies for my laziness.
  •  The Problem With Pillar's Argument..... (4+ / 0-)

    It downplays the damage that would be done to international law, agreements & institutions if Iran develops a nuclear weapon. That doesn't mean the solution is bombing runs, but if it should be revealed that Iran has a weapons program, and has developed a warhead while:

    • a) A signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
    • b) Lying to the world for years saying they weren't doing something that they were doing, and...
    • c) After the United Nations Security Council & International Atomic Energy Agency have issued multiple warning & threats to stop them.

    We might as well tear up the NPT & other international agreements related to nuclear weapons. They won't be worth the paper they're printed on.

    Beyond that, the authority & influence of both the UNSC & the IAEA will be seen as even more feckless than they already are. If Iran can ignore & flaunt Security Council resolutions, any nation can. And the idea of resolution of issues through international institutions like the Security Council will no longer be taken seriously by anyone.

    Now all of that doesn't mean we should attack Iran or that we shouldn't try every diplomatic avenue available to resolve the situation, but I have a problem with the idea that it's no big deal if Iran has nukes. As long as they're still claiming to abide by the NPT & subject to IAEA & UNSC controls, it makes a difference.

    •  Flaunting authority (9+ / 0-)

      Hasn't North Korea already demonstrated the NPT isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I think starting a war to prove a piece of paper still has meaning is going too far to keep NPT intact.

      Iraq "flaunted" UNSC resolutions, and the U.S. sure showed Iraq who was boss.

      •  Places In-Between..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Magnifico

        I think what President Obama tried to press to Netanyahu today is that there are places in-between war & shrugging that still need time before if we know if they'll work (i.e. the European Union’s impending oil sanctions and the blacklisting of Iran’s central bank).

        Of course the risk there is those actions might escalate the situation further towards conflict.

        With North Korea, it did not reflect well on the treaty. While it might not mean much, at least in that situation the North Koreans abrogated the treaty before producing a weapon.

    •  by that logic, we might as well tear it up now (6+ / 0-)

      India, Israel, and Pakistan are all all non-signatories to the NPT, and they all have nukes. Plus N. Korea was a member of the NPT, and they withdrew and developed nuclear capability, proving that the enforcement regime is already a complete farce.

      Given how the IAEA has downplayed the Fukushima disaster, and is now joining the chorus of voices clamoring that Iran is dangerous, it is clear that they are carrying water for someone else now instead of remaining impartial as they're supposed to be.

      What is the threat posed by a nuclear Iran? What if they develop the capability to produce nukes but don't maintain an actual nuclear arsenal? What is the threat level then?

      Nukes are usually intended as a deterrent, not as first-strike weapons. Iran has not invaded any other country for hundreds of years; certainly not in the years of the clerics' reign. Why would they break precedent now?

      Nuclear capability would certainly make the US more wary of military intervention in the ME; it would reduce the regional power of the Saudis; it would make Israel very paranoid; many of the Arab nations would gravitate towards Iran as a regional leader, even though Iran is not itself an Arab nation.

      Sure, it might mean our influence in the region will be lessened. But where is the real threat?

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:09:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except the Saudis would build their own weapons. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cany, Lawrence

        And Israel would up their nuclear spending. Perhaps Egypt and Turkey would decide the new world required their own arsenals too.

        Nuclear arms is like chess. The best way to ensure something unexpected and disasterous does not happen is to simplify the board. We should welcome the idea of fewer nuclear-armed nations, not more.

        •  If you read the entire article, that is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund

          addressed somewhat.  But here's a question:  If Iran getting a nuclear weapon would urge the Saudis to do likewise, WHY haven't the Saudis done this in the face of Israel having a nuclear weapon?  If one country getting one implies they all will, that is not the case as evidenced on the ground.

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:34:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because Saudi Arabia is cool with Israel's (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cany, truong son traveler, Lawrence

            That is the conclusion I reach.

            Israel is no threat to split off SA's oil-and-Sunni-rich Persian Gulf coast region, whereas Iran is.

            •  Okay, I see. The article posits that any (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              war between Israel and Iran, however, would end up hitting the Saudis w/ munitions of one sort or another. In light of that particular, would you remain of that opinion?

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:55:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's why the Saudis will not let Israel fly over (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cany

                I expect that Saudi Arabia plays both sides of the Israel game. They support anti-Israel efforts but they are also allies with the US. And the US is allies with Israel. And is the oil still flowing? Good.

                So SA can live with Israel's nukes, because Israel does not have nukes ... right? [nudge] And Israel officially "does not have nukes" [nudge] because there's no official reason to give SA an official reason to notice: Israel got nukes!

                Is the oil still flowing? Good.

                SA knows Israel is not going to attack SA. The good old USA will see to that, if nothing else. But Iran? The USA has very little influence with Iran. So SA's calculations for (build/do not build) vary greatly between Israel having nukes and Iran having nukes.

                If you are asking what would happen if SA was attacked in the aftermath of an Israeli attack on Iran ... well ... I guess in that scenario SA would at bare minimum be supporting the attacks. So who knows what they would do next. Attack themselves maybe?

                It's not good and I am more than sure Mr Obama does not want war there either. So we can write him and ay he will have our support when he stands up against the warmongers.

                •  I'll be writing to him, but I want to write (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Quicklund

                  a short, if well informed, e-mail.

                  Thanks for your patience!

                  202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

                  by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:45:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  UN resolutions? Seriously? That ship has sailed. (4+ / 0-)

      Israel isn't even a signatory to the NPT and generally ignores UN resolutions it doesn't like.

    •  The NPT has an escape clause (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, cany, Odysseus

      Any nation cvan unilaterally withdraw from the NPT any time they want, produce a nuclear weapon six months and one day later, and they have not broken the NPT according to the terms of the NPT.

      At least that is the gist of it. I am likelt to have some details wrong. But bottom line that treaty has always been a paper tiger. What holds nations back are strategic needs, calculations, and costs. The bad news is, as every new nation joins "the club" those calculations change.

      •  That treaty is not a tiger at all. (0+ / 0-)

        It's not a peace treaty.  Breaking it doesn't create a state of war.  The parties to the treaty aren't obligated, or even empowered, to attack a party which breaks it.

        The only "punishment" agreed to by signatories is that those who break the treaty must not be provided any assistance in developing nuclear programs.

        That's all.

        There certainly has been an effort, dating back the Clinton adminstration, to pretend that violating the NPT provides Casus Belli but that is not the case.

        Bombing Iran is far more dangerous than Iran getting The Bomb.

        by JesseCW on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 08:22:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  At present (6+ / 0-)

      there is no evidence that Iran has violated any of the accords it has signed.  So your concern is with a hypothetical.

      If our politics were sane, we would be pursuing policies that would give Iran every incentive to abide by the NPT.  Instead, we threaten them and push them towards acquiring a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against US.

      •  Yes. But can you answer this for me? (0+ / 0-)

        If they were to seek weapons as a deterrent, in reality, isn't that actually more of a magnet? They have one, or a couple, weapons and Israel has, as the article suggests, 100 to 200?

        I understand the argument both ways. What do you think?

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:58:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Israeli Stocks (4+ / 0-)

          The figure of 100 to 200 warheads has been around for about 10 years and is almost certainly way out of date. Now Israel probably has more nuclear bombs that the UK and France combined.

          Incidentally, part of the NPT is that signatories should discourage by all possible mean ALL other non-nuclear armed countries from developing one. The USA has hardly discouraged Israel by providing billions each year in military aid.

          Fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:49:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for that reply. Appreciate it. nm (0+ / 0-)

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:11:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  In international law (3+ / 0-)

      preventive wars are illegal. In theory at least, no matter who the perpetrators are.

      Is that not the classic case of a “preventive” war (as opposed to a “preemptive” war), once unanimously scorned by progressives as “radical” and immoral when the Bush administration and its leading supporters formally adopted it as official national security doctrine in 2002?

      Back in 2010, Newsweek‘s Michael Hirsh documented the stark, fundamental similarities between the war theories formally adopted by both administrations in their national security strategies, but here we have the Bush administration’s most controversial war theory explicitly embraced: that the U.S. has the right not only to attack another country in order to preempt an imminent attack (pre-emptive war), but even to prevent some future, speculative threat (preventive war).

      Glenn Greenwald

      “Humankind can not bear very much reality.” - T.S. Eliot

      by truong son traveler on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 12:40:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  we may have to, in any case. (8+ / 0-)

    What cards can we play to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program?

    Force will just create a huge mess and end up getting a lot of people killed. A cold war of sabotage and assassination, as is being carried out now, will only make the Iranians more supportive of the current regime. Sanctions aren't working. We have very little leverage.

    My thoughts are that only a serious initiative for a region-wide agreement for a nuclear-free Middle East has much chance of persuading the Iranians.

    If we offered to support such a treaty, we would have to get the Israelis to a) admit the existence of their nuclear arsenal and b) open it up for international inspection. Entirely reasonable, but, given the political climate in this country, impossible.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:41:36 PM PST

    •  We don't know that sanctions aren't working yet. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      It seems it is too soon to tell.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:14:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not impossible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany

      if we work to change the political climate.  Since both major parties support the current mess, action has to take place outside of them to bring sufficient public pressure to bear.  In short, the anti-war movement and OWS have to join forces.

    •  Why would you want to persuade (0+ / 0-)

      Iran (in particular) to give up its nuclear program?

      Because bellicose right wing freaks use that a boogey as a threat to quell internal dissent?

      Nuclear energy is just an expensive boondoggle.  Pursuing it is dangerous and stupid.  It's also the right of a sovereign state.

      Me, I'm much more worried about massive expansions of the US nuclear program, though.  They're a lot more dangerous.

      Bombing Iran is far more dangerous than Iran getting The Bomb.

      by JesseCW on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 08:28:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why are we are discussing an Iran that (12+ / 0-)

    possesses a nuclear weapon. There is no such Iran. We have an Iran that is not, according to even the best intelligence of her enemies, if one chooses not to believe Iran, pursuing nuclear weapons, only the ability to generate electricity via nuclear power plants, without being dependent upon fickle allegiances that may renege on their agreements to fuel those power plants. Everything beyond that is unicorns.

    •  I think we all realize they have not. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socalmonk

      I cannot speak for others, but for me I am speaking to the political saber rattling all over the place at the moment and trying to get a grasp (even though I have done a lot of reading, a lot of it conflicts) on points of the current discussion.

      For instance, it never really dawned on me that communication between the US and Iran (because of lack of direct diplomatic ties) is more time consuming and difficult given there isn't an equivalent to the "red phone".  

      I think there are probably many, like me, that don't understand Iran's modern history well, let alone the highs and lows of our historical involvement with the country.

      If some others are like me--and I suspect there are a lot of us in this category--we don't know enough to ferret out the foolish and unfactual in an argument let alone are we able to discern the fine slicing that is often involved in any issue. I am a lay expert on land use, for instance, and I could bore you all day on the issue and you still really wouldn't know a lot more than you do now.

      Yet at some point, as our and other politicians and agencies and advocacy groups variously align on the issue and I and likely others need to take educated positions and perhaps help to sway others, it becomes necessary to understand all the facets of the conflict to do so. That would also mean clearly understanding alternatives to physical aggressive action.

      For me, personally, it is an intellectual "need to know" and that doesn't really begin or end anywhere.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:25:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the face of the largest chemical weapons (0+ / 0-)

      attacks in 60 years, Iran refused to respond in kind.

      Saddam slaughtered 20,000 Iranian soldiers with nerve gas during his war of naked aggression against Iran.  We, BTW, sold him the precursors.

      Another 100,000 Iranian soldiers were injured in gas attacks.  Today, some 5 thousand of them are still permanently disabled.

      Iran did engage in some chemical weapons research, and built stockpiles, but never responded in kind.  The one case in which the Reagan administration accused Iran of using chemical weapons turns out to have been Saddam gassing his own people.

      That's the sort of "madmen" we're dealing with.

      That's the Boogey.

      Bombing Iran is far more dangerous than Iran getting The Bomb.

      by JesseCW on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 08:33:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a question: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass, Sandino

    The author cited by Magnifico writes in his WW piece:

    There are indeed good reasons to oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, and likewise many steps the United States and the international community can and should take to try to avoid that eventuality.

    WHAT, do you think, are those good reasons?

    Feel free to help me out here everyone:)  I have a few in mind, but would like to hear your thoughts.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 09:33:22 PM PST

    •  One step might be to not attack them. An attack (4+ / 0-)

      now might delay Iran's program of uranium enrichment, but not by much, and it would, more than any other factor, cause them to feel the need for a nuclear deterrent.

      •  My question was... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        what ARE the good reasons to oppose Iran in having a nuclear weapon?

        The author of the article (I read it three times) states this, but doesn't elaborate on WHAT those good reasons are.

        So I thought I would ask others.

        This has been a central question for me because I have not bought the good old paranoid "oh noes!" coming from just about all quarters.

        It seems to me that there are indeed some good reasons to oppose them, and some good reasons not to.

        Just interested in what others think.

        This is a big part of our foreseeable future and I am really trying my best to understand it.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:18:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A nuclear weapon-free world (7+ / 0-)

          One of Obama's foreign policy goals is "to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear weapons". Proliferation makes it harder to achieve a world where there are no nuclear weapons. If Iran builds a weapon, then that is another nuclear-armed country.

          In a 2009 speech in Prague, Obama said:

          Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked -– that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. Such fatalism is a deadly adversary, for if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable...

          So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly –- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence...

          Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon. My administration will seek engagement with Iran based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We believe in dialogue. But in that dialogue we will present a clear choice. We want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically. We will support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections. That's a path that the Islamic Republic can take. Or the government can choose increased isolation, international pressure, and a potential nuclear arms race in the region that will increase insecurity for all.

          That's part of his argument against proliferation.
          •  This one I completely understand and am familiar (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Magnifico

            with. Note that the paper's author cited reasons (plural). I'm totally on board with fewer weapons and fewer countries having them. Got that.

            I remain unsure of what the other realistic reasons are.

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:39:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It reduces the likelihood of nuclear war (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Magnifico, cany

              Even assuming that every country with a nuclear weapon will act rationally those actions may end up with a nuclear strike.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 07:57:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  So, he changed his mind and believes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Magnifico

            that Iran's right under the NPT to enrich fuel grade uranium ought to be respected now?

            Or did he just leave out, once again, that he believes that all but a small clique of "trusted nations" should be prohibited from enriching their own fuel?

            This is a disgusting mercantilist policy masquerading as a peace plan.

            The World Bank will loan impoverished countries money to build reactors they will be forbidden to enrich fuel for, and those nations will be forced to buy on a rigged marked from the major world powers.

            Even those with uranium resources of their own will be forced to export their natural resources for enrichment, giving a wealthy nation the value added.

            This isn't about peace, or fighting proliferation.

            It's about making money, and about getting poor nations to sacrifice energy independence.

            Want to fight proliferation?  Supply wind turbines and solar panels in return for promises not to enrich uranium.  

            Bombing Iran is far more dangerous than Iran getting The Bomb.

            by JesseCW on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 08:39:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not the question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cany

        Not 'how to stop them?' but 'what harmful things might happen if they did build some?'

        •  Same harmful things that have happened since (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          that other regional power acquired nuclear weapons.

        •  Yet another country will have nukes which (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, AoT, Odysseus, cany

          increases the possibility that someone will use them.  Especially if the Iranians don't implement good command and control procedures such as Permissive Action Links like we do (and Russia, China, the UK, India, and Pakistan do).  In other words, it is not a major threat like the pundits are yelling about but it does increase the threat of global nuclear war by a bit.

          There is no saving throw against stupid.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 06:00:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  fwiw (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            socalmonk, cany

            My thoughts lie in that direction as well.

            Another way to look at it is, what good results derive from an Iranian decision to not build weapons? IOW instead of the politics of preventing a bad,  Pres Obama has an opportunity to politic on encouraging a good.

          •  Ah! Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

            I know after the cold war the US and other world powers sent money to Russia to help stabilize their nuclear subs which were often abandoned with fuel on board and were becoming the equivalent of nuclear rust buckets. So I can certainly understand the need for this, in fact I believe someone else here also mentioned it and I have read this in other pieces, as well.

             

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:30:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  the best reason to oppose proliferation (8+ / 0-)

      is simply that nuclear weapons are so odious, and so devastating whether used in cold blood or if launched by accident or misunderstanding, that the less of them that exist, the better, ideally none at all.

      there's another argument, that the vast sums of money and expertise necessary to develop, build and maintain nuclear arsenals steals funding and scientists from other, more worthy endeavors. and the necessary byproduct of such a process is radioactive nuclear waste, mining tailings, poisoned workers, etc., so even if the accursed things are never used, they're worth discouraging.

      this is also true of existing nuclear powers, to be fair.

      •  Okay! Thanks for that. This all makes very good (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming

        sense.

        I have been worried about our nuclear navy for a long time in terms of accident or misunderstanding. I'd really like to see nuclear free seas. Really like to see that.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 10:42:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the likelihood of misunderstanding diminishes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cany

          a bit as countries set up complex redundant protocols for use, but the possibility of accidents is still intolerably high IMO. a newly-armed nuclear state doesn't necessarily have those kinds of safeguards set up.

          i wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a bunch of behind the scenes aid to both india and pakistan by other nuclear powers right after they announced their arsenals, in helping them establish better institutional safeguards against accidental launch, and better communication channels with one another. north korea, OTOH, is so cagey, even towards china, that i would be surprised if any of that had been done.

          luckily, all nuclear powers seem to have been constrained enough by geopolitics of MAD or whatever not to have fired nukes in anger or error, not since ww2 at any rate. i'd be overjoyed if they got the seas nuclear free, i imagine a sunk nuclear vessel would be a hell of a mess to clean up, if such a task is even possible.

          •  there are already sunk nuclear subs on the (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wu ming, AoT, Odysseus

            sea floor. here.

            here.

            There are others.

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:32:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly. What are the odds that Iranian nuclear (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cany

            weapons, once built, will have all of the fancy Permission Action Link code stuff that ours have?  In fact, once India and Pakistan got nukes we finally ended up providing them with the technology (including designs for PAL systems) to help secure their nukes and prevent an accidental or unauthorized launch.  In a country such as Iran preventing accidental or unauthorized launches would be even more important as you wouldn't want a rogue general to be able to launch a nuke against Israel on his own.

            There is no saving throw against stupid.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 06:03:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  well, I think this is yet one more reason that (0+ / 0-)

              somehow we need to communicate clearly and honestly with Iran and vice versa.

              I understand the cat/mouse game, but when it comes to nuclear weapons that seems like a dangerous strategy.

              In terms of the other reasons to oppose, my original question, the safety issue of command and control, while not mentioned in the subject article of the diary, is surely a big one. But just thinking in terms of multiple eventualities, we've done it before albeit often with countries where we have had better relationships.

              Speaking of which, what was our relationship to Pakistan when THEY acquired nukes?

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:35:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  From what I have read, after Pakistan got (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cany

                nukes we decided to give them the technology to secure them (permissive action links, encrypted timing offsets for the conventional explosives, etc) so that even if a terrorist got ahold of a nuke they couldn't do anything with it without the right codes.  Ideally we would try to communicate (along with other nuclear powers) just how much of a pain in the ass it is to maintain and secure nukes but our credibility is pretty much shot at this point (thanks, Dubya).

                There is no saving throw against stupid.

                by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 02:23:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Were we on good terms with them with they (0+ / 0-)

                  developed their nukes?

                  202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

                  by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 04:38:29 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Up there ↑↑↑ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany
      •  Got it. I appreciate your patience. Weaponry (0+ / 0-)

        and war strategy are not my forte. I am really trying to understand.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:03:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We must prevent any WMDs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    In any nation that possesses significant oil reserves.
    Isn't that clear by now?

    This diary also feels somewhat anti-semitic, did AIPAC approve it?

  •  Excellent diary. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cany, Magnifico, truong son traveler, rja

    We need more like this, given all the senseless warmongering that is going on right now.

  •  N Korea already went nuclear (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robobagpiper, Magnifico, cany

    and in terms of nuttiness N Korea is leagues ahead of Iran. N Korea also have far less to lose. This is one country that could potentially go 'postal' on us.

    Everything must be done in order to ensure Iran doesn't go nuclear. However I agree that it's not worth a war. Just as it wasn't worth a war to deter (the far more insane) North Korea from having its nuke.

    •  Am I mistaken in remembering that their delivery (0+ / 0-)

      systems just aren't up to par (well at least long range ones)?

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:37:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obviously we can live with it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, cany

    but we would vastly prefer not to have to. And signalling that we could live with it makes it much more likely that we will have to.

    Short of an Iraq style, boots on the ground invasion (something that is entirely impracticable for a variety of reasons), the military option really involves targeted strikes on suspected nuclear facilities. As Obama explained in that interview in the Atlantic, this doesn't solve the problem; it only kicks the can down the road a couple of years. He's interested in something long term, and that can only come through diplomatic means.

    During the years of the Bush administration, I had the uneasy feeling that pretty much all major decisions were going to be screwed up. I have the opposite sense of the Obama administration. They aren't going to be backed into making stupid choices either by election year politics, or anything the Israelis might go and do.

    •  I sure hope you are right. I just want a stop to (0+ / 0-)

      all this war. It seems like it has just been one after another since I was a kid and I am 58 now. It's a helluva means to conflict resolution.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 11:39:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Magnifico, weasel

    republished to Adalah - A Just Middle East.

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