Iran wants nukes to deter attack

Israel/Palestine
on 35 Comments
In citing the realist argument that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Iran got nuclear weapons, I’ve used the word “containment.” As if Iran is an irrational aggressor. A friend points out that Iran is a rational actor, and the correct term for its behavior, and the west’s, is “deterrence.” He explains the distinction:
 
One thing that has puzzled and concerned me a bit is the use of the word “containment” when applied to Iran policy options.  Often I see “containment” being held up as the good alternative to military action.
 
I’m not a licensed historian, but as I understand it, the strategy of containment as originally proposed was about stopping the spread of communism.  The very word “containment” presupposes that there is some aggressive, expansionist entity which needs to be contained within a geographical boundary.  Is Iran really much of an aggressive expansionist force?  Does it need containing?  What about just ignoring it and letting it be?  
 
Anyway, my point is that making the debate be one between preemptive military action and containment sort of reinforces the warmonger frame that Iran is a dangerous expansionist foe, akin to the Soviet Union.  And the word containment has such negative connotations and so much historical baggage. 
 
I think a more precise word for dealing with a nuclear Iran would be “deterrence”.  i.e. can Iran be forever deterred from using a nuclear weapon.  I don’t even really like that word though, because it assumes that Iran needs deterring.  What if they don’t plan to nuke anyone?   Are we deterring Pakistan, or China, or France? 

Good point. Bill Keller’s important piece on the subject in the New York Times emphasized containing Iran. But he did use the deterrence concept:

If the U.S. arsenal deterred the Soviet Union for decades of cold war and now keeps North Korea’s nukes in their silos, if India and Pakistan have kept each other in a nuclear stalemate, why would Iran not be similarly deterred by the certainty that using nuclear weapons would bring a hellish reprisal?

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian today is also using the d-word, emphasizing Iran’s ability to deter attacks:

[On Monday Senator Lindsey Graham] explained the real reason Iranian nuclear weapons should be feared:

“They have two goals: one, regime survival. The best way for the regime surviving, in their mind, is having a nuclear weapon, because when you have a nuclear weapon, nobody attacks you.”

Graham added that the second regime goal is “influence”, that “people listen to you” when you have a nuclear weapon. In other words, we cannot let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because if they get them, we can no longer attack them when we want to and can no longer bully them in their own region.

Graham’s answer is consistent with what various American policy elites have said over the years about America’s enemies generally and Iran specifically: the true threat of nuclear proliferation is that it can deter American aggression.

The most important realist argument for Iran getting nukes, Kenneth Waltz in Foreign Affairs, called nukes “the ultimate deterrent.”

And the scholar Norman Birnbaum, responds to a question at our site, from ProudZionist, criticizing his recent piece in The Nation:

“I would ask Professor Birnbaum one question. Will Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons make the world a more or less safe place?”

From one point of view, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would act as a deterrent to attacks on Iran, and have a stabilizing effect. From another, it might start a nuclear arms race in the region, where in any case it is difficult to imagine that governments in Algeria and Egypt will indefinitely maintain  nuclear arms abstention. Perhaps the question could be rephrased: does Israel’s nuclear arsenal increase its security?

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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35 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    October 3, 2012, 10:58 am

    Finally. It’s always been about Iran’s ability to halt American aggression, something Washington deems unacceptable. How dare Iran look to protect itself from future American attacks. It’s like in Dr. Strangelove – “what will they do if we attack?” –
    “they’ll attack us back” — “then we gotta attack, NOW with everything we got”

    • seanmcbride
      October 3, 2012, 11:59 am

      Dan Crowther wrote:

      Finally. It’s always been about Iran’s ability to halt American aggression, something Washington deems unacceptable.

      It is ISRAEL, not the United States, that has repeatedly been threatening to attack Iran over the last year or two. The United States has been opposing and resisting ISRAEL’s campaign to go to war against Iran.

      Iran, of course, would have to be a highly irrational actor NOT to seek effective deterrence against a messianic and aggressive state — ISRAEL — one heavily armed with nuclear weapons — which has repeatedly threatened to attack it. It is Israel that kicked off a nuclear arms race in the Mideast, not Iran.

      Iran, even under the rule of Islamists, appears to be a more rational actor than Israel, a nation which is in sharp conflict with nearly the entire world (including its only patron) and which is hypnotically bent on fulfilling a sacred mission to build Eretz Yisrael over the bodies of millions of Palestinians.

      But focusing on the United States as the chief culprit in this case, rather than Israel, is certainly in line with simplistic Chomskyan agitprop.

      • flyod
        October 3, 2012, 1:12 pm

        u.s. supports tough sanctions…seems like an act of war to me

      • Dan Crowther
        October 3, 2012, 9:57 pm

        Pfft.

        My bad Sean, you’re right. It’s all Israel – the US is just being lead around by the nose. Sorry for being confused. I’m simplistic but you’re response to literally everything is: It’s Israel! It’s International Likud Zionism! And then you make a numbered list. Ha.

        Glenn Greenwald must be another Chomskyite loser, cuz he makes the same point in the article Phil links to. In fact this is the title of his article:

        The true reason US fears Iranian nukes: they can deter US attacks
        GOP Senator Lindsey Graham echoes a long line of US policymakers: Iran must not be allowed to deter US aggression.

        And here’s everybody’s favorite Chomsky Disciple, Don Rumsfeld (same greenwald article):

        In 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned:

        “Several of these [small enemy nations] are intensely hostile to the United States and are arming to deter us from bringing our conventional or nuclear power to bear in a regional crisis.”

        But you’re totally right bro. My bad.

      • seanmcbride
        October 4, 2012, 11:16 am

        Dan,

        Your cognitive functions have been so degraded by simplistic Chomskyan dogma that you have failed to notice that the American national security establishment, in tandem with the American (AND European) corporatocracy (including the oil industry), is strongly OPPOSED to an American or Israeli war against Iran. The campaign to attack Iran has been spearheaded by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby, including some of its dupes and tools like Lindsey Graham — who do NOT express the consensus views of the American power elite.

        I swear to God, you are as irrational on these issues as true-believing Zionists like hophmi. You can’t process the empirical data that is directly in front of your nose.

      • seanmcbride
        October 4, 2012, 12:16 pm

        Dan Crowther,

        Take note:

        “Ex-defense chief says hit on Iran would be disastrous”
        http://hamptonroads.com/2012/10/exdefense-chief-says-hit-iran-would-be-disastrous

        Painting a picture of internal political dysfunction in a dangerous world, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Wednesday night that a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences.

        Does Robert Gates rank high enough among the American power elite for you? Do you understand that he is a more important person in that world than Lindsey Graham?

        How about Martin Dempsey, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has stated that the United States does not want to be “complicit” with any Israeli military actions against Iran?

        Have you noticed that Mitt Romney, who does seem to be agitating for an Iran War, is a tool of multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson (a self-professed Israel Firster), Benjamin Netanyahu (the Israeli prime minister) and the Israel lobby?

        Does your model of the world really explain American Mideast policy? No, it doesn’t — not even close. Go back to the drawing board. Reboot. Get grounded in reality.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 4, 2012, 5:50 pm

        You’re too much man.

        You keep telling me what I think and about my “model” and so on, making a lot of assumptions, most of them untrue. You gotta take it easy, man.

        I don’t know what to say to you, you jump around so much. It’s pretty simple, whatever else is true (and I disagree regarding the real US stance) about US policy toward Iran, regime change has been a goal for a long time, you and I both know it. If you dispute this, I’m done with you. OK, so the question becomes, why would you let a regime you want changed to get a nuclear deterrent? And of course it’s a deterrent against Israel – everyone understands this. You’re right it’s pretty simple – both the US and Israel want a client state in Iran, and until they get it, they will oppose exactly this kind of development. The US government has made it pretty clear it reserves the right to do what it wants, regardless of convention and so on. You’re saying the US’s stance toward Iran, sanctions and all is directed solely by Israel and right wing zionists?

      • seanmcbride
        October 4, 2012, 10:36 pm

        Dan Crowther,

        I am saying that most of the US power elite (including the corporatocracy and national security community) strongly opposes the Iran War for which the Israeli government and the Israel lobby have been furiously agitating.

        I have stated this position several times now with the utmost clarity, but apparently you have difficulty reading plain English.

        The problem is, the Israel lobby has acquired so much power within the American government and the mainstream media that it may succeed in overriding the best judgment of those players who are focused on the American interest in dealings with Iran. Billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have bribed and bought off many influential Americans who are willing to put the Israeli interest before the American interest for their immediate personal profit.

        Wishing for regime change in Iran and going to war against Iran are two very different things.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 5, 2012, 11:41 am

        OK, Sean. I agree that the right wing zio’s and the Israeli government are the main backers of an american attack on Iran – that’s impossible to dispute.

        All I am saying is, here at MW there is a tremendous amount written about the zio’s and israeli influence on this whole thing – remember, this was an article by phil that basically said – “so there are some other concerns involved here” one of which is: the US opposes nuclear development of any kind in Iran because the “wrong” government is in charge. And that’s a long standing US policy, in any part of the world. You’re “with” the US – knock yourself out, get your nukes (Pakistan and India for example) but if you’re a “rogue” state, who thumbs its nose at the US, no nukes for you.

        And I cited Greenwald, Rumsfeld, Lindsey Graham (and could continue on with guys like Zbig, Scowcroft, Kennan and others) saying the same thing: A nuclear Iran is an Iran that can deter American (or Israeli) aggression, and that is unacceptable to the US, partly because of the regime change issue, but also because of the “extended deterrent” which Iran could afford its clients in the region.

        What is frustrating about your arguments is that even when US officials, acting in an official capacity, move aircraft carriers to the region, heighten already existing sanctions and increase troops, supplies etc in Turkey (certainly not a lobby hotbed), you just say: Ah, thats because the Zionists told them to do it. So anything the US does, it’s Haim Saban and the others. Kind of a neat trick. You say I “blame America” – but you’re the ultimate one trick pony – whatever happens, its the Zio’s.

      • seanmcbride
        October 5, 2012, 2:06 pm

        Dan,

        I understand that there is a deep and wide tradition of aggressive (and sometimes racist) imperialism in American culture that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel or Zionism — it has been there since the founding of America by Christian Europeans. That tradition needs to be examined and deconstructed, and opposed when it should be opposed.

        But matters are now more complicated in American politics — the Israel lobby has made major inroads in acquiring control over American foreign policy and it is often agitating for an Israeli and Zionist imperial agenda that is directly in conflict with the American imperial agenda (and often with basic American values and interests as well).

        This is a very big deal — one of the biggest deals in American history. An Iran War would probably devastate the global and American economy. The traditional American power elite strongly opposes such a war. The Israeli government and the Israel lobby are agitating for that war with full force. The Israel lobby may actually succeed in overpowering the traditional American foreign policy establishment on this very important issue. We need to talk about this.

        North Korea is a much greater threat to Americans on the nuclear weapons front than Iran. Why do you think it is that the mainstream media and the Congress show little interest in discussing that threat? The answer is simple: the Israeli government and the Israel lobby have hijacked and subverted much of the American political system on behalf of a narrow Israeli agenda that is in direct conflict with American interests.

      • seanmcbride
        October 6, 2012, 1:53 pm

        Dan Crowther,

        American imperialists have lost control of their own empire:

        http://www.opednews.com/articles/Empire-Trapped-The-US-Un-by-Ramzy-Baroud-121002-497.html

        Even if the US opts to stave off a catastrophic decline in the region, it is shackled by the invasive tentacles of Israel, the pro-Israel lobby and their massive and permeating network, which crosses over competing media, political parties and ideological agendas. The US is now destined to live by the rules — and redlines — determined by Israel, whose national interests are barely concerned with the rise or demise of America. Israel only wants to ensure its supremacy in the “new” Middle East.

        Many American leftists still haven’t received the memo.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 6, 2012, 2:47 pm

        Ramzy Baroud? I enjoy some of Baroud’s stuff, but sometimes he’s a little much.

        Again, there’s no arguing the Israeli’s and their american agents are the chief agitators for war with Iran (at present) – but to claim that the US is involved in this on-going nonsense with Iran SOLELY because of Israel, is just flat wrong. The House of Saud and the Gulf Monarchies are on the same page, Turkey is on the same page, Jordan (and I will grant you that Jordan is pretty much a israeli/us protectorate) is on the same page … so there are other’s in the mix. And this is before we even mention “Pipelinestan” and the huge energy/geo-strategic concerns of the US and the rest of the world tied to the region and to Iran specifically.

        Here’s Larry Wilkerson’s latest from the Real News:
        http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8927

        He’s no leftist. But I think he has a good mix here.

      • seanmcbride
        October 6, 2012, 6:37 pm

        Dan Crowther,

        The instant I noticed your link to Larry Wilkerson, I knew you had shot yourself in the foot since I know Wilkerson’s views well, which are compatible with mine and which directly contradict yours.

        Wilkerson mentions six high-level American national security leaders and America Firsters who clearly OPPOSE an Iran War: himself, Brent Scowcroft, Tom Pickering, Anthony Zinni, Fox (William) Fallon and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The one person he mentions who supports an Iran War, John Bolton, is an Israel Firster and a Likud Zionist.

        Which is precisely what I have been trying to tell you all along: the contemporary American power elite is wracked by increasingly sharp conflict between America and Israel Firsters. Israeli imperialism is radically at odds with American imperialism. The Israel lobby has been promoting policies (like the Iraq War, the Global War on Terror, the Clash of Civilizations, an Iran War, etc.) that severely damage American imperial interests (and just plain American interests). This developing situation is one of the biggest stories in American history, but you don’t appear to grasp it. The facts are right there in front of your nose but you don’t see them.

        I find your model of the world to be about as reliable as that of hophmi. Good lawd, man. You need to deprogram yourself. Standard leftist theory will only get you so far in understanding how the world really works.

      • ColinWright
        October 6, 2012, 9:58 pm

        Dan Crowther says: “…You’re saying the US’s stance toward Iran, sanctions and all is directed solely by Israel and right wing zionists?”

        It’s reasonable to speculate that in an alternate universe — one without Israel — the US and Iran would have kissed and made up by now. It’s been 33 years since the hostage crisis.

        I’d say Israel and her supporters have had a vested interest in keeping the fight alive.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 6, 2012, 11:55 pm

        HAHAHA!! McBride, you are a tremendous A-hole bro, what the F is your problem? So, I’m disqualified from agreeing with Larry Wilkerson? I say I agree with his general assessment and because you’ve decided how I think, and you’ve decided it’s incompatible with anything Wilkerson would say, I shoot myself in the foot?

        He does far more than just point the finger solely at the Neo-cons, he takes into account the overarching geopolitical reality, the relationships with the other countries in the region, The Lobby and the Neocons and also the idea of American Exceptionalism – he recounts MCGeorge Bundy’s admission in his memoirs that: we knew we couldn’t win the Vietnam war, but it was a matter of Prestige – we had to show the world we would go to great lengths to get our way}. And he’s often emphasized this macho irrationality inherent in foreign policy before – so there are alot of factors.

        And who is Larry Wilkerson? The MF’er who wrote Colin Powell’s BS presentation at the UN. Mr. Realist, Mr. Old Conservative Larry Wilkerson. So, just like all the other “Serious” people you mention, he has his own peccadilloes. Brent Scowcroft? The Iran-Iraq War? Ever heard of that? Zbig and Carter gave us near nuclear war over the Straits of Hormuz and also CENTCOM, the command center for all future Middle East wars. How is that that all these “realists” Sean idolizes have found themselves involved in American Aggression? Hmm. I know, it must have been: THE ZIONISTS!! Sean’s answer to everything. Because we all know, the US has never fought or involved itself in any wars other than the ones THE ZIONISTS get us into. What. A. Clown. This. Guy. Is.

        I’m done with you. have at it

  2. pabelmont
    October 3, 2012, 11:19 am

    Great post, Phil.

    All the same, I wonder how soon we will see a test of the proposition that no-one attacks anyone else who has a nuke. That proposition suggests that there is no rule against FIRST USE.

    Suppose Israel nukes Iran. A FIRST USE. Would Iran dare to respond with a nuke (if it had one or a few) knowing that Israel has hundreds of them and rockets and submarines etc to launch them?

    OK, bad example, Try this:

    Suppose Israel attacks Iran without using nukes. NO FIRST USE. Would Iran dare to respond with a nuke (FIRST USE) (if it had one or a few) knowing that Israel has hundreds of them and rockets and submarines etc to launch them? If not, then what earthly use was the Iranian nuke? Did it prevent Israeli attack? Hardly.

    Ahmadinejad:

    “Let’s even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”

    Has Pakistan’s nuke prevented USA from attacking it with drones? OK, a special case, but still, has it?

    Anyhow, I don’t see an Iranian nuke as a military threat to anyone and if it reduces Israeli belligerency, that’s all to the good.

  3. David Nelson
    October 3, 2012, 11:31 am

    Below I have transcribed a question on the nuclear negotiations asked by Greg Tealman of Arms Control Associaton. The setting is a talk titled “Will diplomatic failure over Iran trigger war?” given by Mark Fitzpatrick at the International Institute for Strategic Studies–US (link below to the youtube video).

    Mark Fitzpatrick’s answer illustrates that the demand that Iran shut down the Fordow site is demanded NOT because the US could not destroy Fordow, but because Israel could not destroy it, or, in other words, Israel cannot “contain” Iran with the existence of Fordow. Looked at from the Iranian point of view, however, Fordow is a deterrence against an Israeli attack.

    But let’s be real, Israel cannot militarily “contain” Iran as it is, Fordow or not. Iran’s nuclear program is too redundant, too much a part of the broader Iranian society for it to be erased.

    So clearly Israel already relies on the US for security from their perceived Iranian threat, Fordow does not change this equation, so why should Israel be so insistent this demand to dismantle Fordow be included in the negotiations?

    As Fitzpatrick says, the US can destroy Fordow, or certainly can destroy any usable entryways into it. And as we all know, the US has Israel’s back. So why this demand to dismantle Fordow from Israel? Do they not think other nations have a right to defend against Israeli aggression or to protect their valuable assets?

    Is it merely an irrational demand by Israel knowing full well the rational actors in Tehran will reject such a demand?

    It seems clear to me the dismantling of Fordow is a strawman put in there so Israel can ensure the negotiations will fail.

    Anyway, here is the question and answer. I transcribed it, so my apologies for any errors. The question is asked @28:17 in the video (link below):

    Greg Tealman-Arms Control Association:

    “I wanted to focus on Fordow, and the, um, specifically on the demand that it be shut down. Um, I wanted your reaction to my interpretation that from an Iranian perspective, the ‘shut-down demand’ can only be interpreted as a provocation, as an indication of bad faith on the part of the six powers [P5+1 or E3+3] because it ultimately means that even if Iran were to accept limits at 3.5%, if they were to accept the Additional Protocol, if they were to accept everything else that we ask for, we would say “Fordow has to be shut down because we have trouble destroying it in an air assualt.” Isn’t that essentially what the demand is and how is that, how is that constructed to allow us in these very difficult negotiations to get over the hurdle of lack of trust and faith on both sides and get a confidence building agreement?”

    Mark Fitzpatrick: “Yeah, Greg, that’s a good question. I think though that, um, the pronoun is not the right pronoun in the way you framed the question. It’s not that “we,” that is to say, members of the E3+3, have a difficulty attacking Fordow. The United States could do it with its, um, its heavy gravity bombs, but Israel couldn’t and that doesn’t make it any easier for Iran obviously, it would make more of a problem but I mean this is realpolitik we’re talking about here. “

  4. Annie Robbins
    October 3, 2012, 11:34 am

    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107110226

    in case anyone is interested, today:

    (their bold)

    2012-10-03
    VP: Iran Never Starts War

    TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi underlined the country’s capability to repel any kind of enemy attack relying on its advanced weapons and equipment, but meantime said that Tehran will never initiate a war against other states.

    “Although, the Islamic Republic of Iran has and will never be an aggressor and the starter of a war throughout its life, today it is an equipped and powerful nation which can defend itself against the aggression of the aliens,” Rahimi said in the Western city of Ilam on Tuesday afternoon.

    He also downplayed Israel’s growing war rhetoric against Iran, and said, “If Israel could attack Iran, it would never build a wall around itself.”

    “Such rumors are merely aimed at waging psychological war to disturb the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political and economic atmosphere.”

    Iranian military and governmental officials have on many occasions warned enemies to stay away from aggression against the country.

    In relevant remarks last month, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said an enemy invasion of Iran is possible, but such a war would put an end to the life of the Zionist regime of Israel.

    “Owing to the (high) speed (of the growth and development) of the Islamic Revolution, this cancerous tumor, Israel, is challenging us to war, but it is not clear when this war would take place,” Jafari said in Tehran at the time.

    “War may break out, but if Zionists start something, that will be the point of their annihilation and the endpoint of their story,” he added.

    Jafari, meantime, underlined that “no one dares to wage an extensive ground assault on Iran”.

    The General said if the enemy were wise, there wouldn’t be any problem, “but the problem is that there is no guarantee for this rationality and we should be prepared too.”

    Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

    Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

    The Zionist regime has recently intensified its war rhetoric against Tehran, warning that it plans to hit Iranian nuclear facilities.

    Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

    The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

    In response, Iran has warned it would hit the US, Israel and their worldwide interests and close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

    Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

  5. eljay
    October 3, 2012, 11:52 am

    [On Monday Senator Lindsey Graham] explained the real reason Iranian nuclear weapons should be feared:

    “They have two goals: one, regime survival. The best way for the regime surviving, in their mind, is having a nuclear weapon, because when you have a nuclear weapon, nobody attacks you.”

    Graham added that the second regime goal is “influence”, that “people listen to you” when you have a nuclear weapon. In other words, we cannot let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because if they get them, we can no longer attack them when we want to and can no longer bully them in their own region.

    Mr. Graham explains perfectly why Israel and the U.S. should not have nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, he applies his reasoning only to Iran. The stench of hypocrisy is nauseating.

  6. Kathleen
    October 3, 2012, 11:59 am

    Phil unless I am totally mistaken which would not be the first time I think you meant to say Bill Keller’s piece on the containment of Iran not “Iraq”

    And the far more learned people who are saying that if Iran is developing the ” capacity” for nuclear weapons again that is “if” they are then containment is the key. Unlike Bill Keller experts Joint Chief of Staff General Dempsey and former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski and other far more qualified people have stated that containment is the way to go and not a military strike. Why anyone would even consider Keller and others opinions who know far far less than these experts is a puzzle for me. Who cares what Keller, Friedmann etc think. They were deadly and I believe knowingly wrong on Iraq. Read Scott Ritter’s “Target Iran” that came out years ago. A must read

  7. Mndwss
    October 3, 2012, 12:17 pm

    More Guns Equal Less Violent Crime:
    by Professor John R. Lott, Jr.
    http://www.largo.org/Lott.html

    “Guns are the great equalizer between the weak and the vicious.”

    Isn’t the Equalizer (by samuel colt) an american value?

    Who is the weak and the vicious?

    Should not the US at least throw a nuke at the feet of Ahmadinejad and ask him to pick it up?

  8. asherpat
    October 3, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I dont understand the point of this article, the comments to it, and for that matter the points of most of articles and comments on this site. Just say what you really mean – you WANT Iran to have the nuclear capaility not to defend itself, you cudnt care less. You want Iran to have nuclear capability because you hope that it will use it and drive the jews into the sea or into the grave. C’mon, be sincere and admit it.

    • Annie Robbins
      October 3, 2012, 3:45 pm

      no you be sincere and admit it, you WANT us to hope iran will drive the jews into the sea or into the grave. you really do. you’re more comfortable thinking we are the enemy, aren’t you?

    • Woody Tanaka
      October 3, 2012, 4:17 pm

      “You want Iran to have nuclear capability because you hope that it will use it and drive the jews into the sea or into the grave. C’mon, be sincere and admit it.”

      See, there’s your problem right there…

      • asherpat
        October 5, 2012, 12:10 am

        Annie and Woody, the problem is with you. I feel no comfort if you guys “believe” in one thing or another. I asked you to reveal your your real positions – if you are for Iranian nukes, then why? Is it for Iran to “defend” itself from Israel? It’s a self defeating argument – Israel’s attack may come only to prevent these nukes in the first place. Balance of power? Why is there a need for a balance of power with Israel that has no claims on Iranian territory? Again, makes no sense.

        However, for Iran to tighten the screws on the jews (a great rhime i know) and smoke them out of Israel, bingo, makes sense. Cos if not, for what purpose does Iran need nuclear capability and why are you so against Israel trying to prevent it? So are you FOR Iranian nukes or AGAINST, yes/no pls.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 5, 2012, 9:34 am

        “the problem is with you.”

        No, sorry, crazy lady, the problem is your paranoia. I understand there is some wonderful new medications for that. Talk to your doctor to see which is right for you.

        And, really, there are many reasons why Iran might want a nuke other than your idiotic paranoid suggestion. Primary among them being the fact that in the past decade or so, it has been declared by the US gov’t to be one of three “axis of evil” states and we saw what happened to the other two: the nuclear armed one was left alone, the non-nuclear armed one was the site of a million murders thanks to Uncle Sam. Doesn’t take a genius to decide which is the better course.

        Further, the notion that israel is only being agressive against Iran because of its nukes is belied by israel’s history. Without the “nuke” excuse, it has launched offinsive wars, acts of war and war crimes against: Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and every country which its spies have snuck into to commit crimes on their soil. Iran has a legitimate interest in not joining that list.

        Also, there is a need for a balance of power. israel may not have claims on Iranian land, but it certainly has designs to be a regional hegemon. Iran has an interest in seeing that israel is not able to commit what crimes it wants against its neighbors in the region.

        Further, it sees that it has an interest in supporting the Palestinian freedom fighters against the zionist oppression, and supporting the Hezbollah defenders of Lebanon from criminal israeli agression. Being armed with nuclear weapons might permit Iran to check israeli crimes in the region.

        Further, your paranoia makes no sense. There is no way that the mere possession of a nuclear weapon can achieve what your paranoia is dictating. israel has second strike capability and Iran knows that. Unless you are a proponant of the insanely stupid, moronic, dumb, and dopey idea that the Iranian leader is interested in not preserving their regime, your paranoid delusions make no sense.

        Finally, the question has no yes or now answer. My answer is this: I don’t think any country should have nukes. But if israel and the US won’t give up their nukes, they have no standing to say that any other state cannot have them, too. Further, if it will stay israel’s and the US’s hand from continuing to act with criminal impunity, especially as against the Palestians, on whose land the israelis have been squatting for a century and a half, then I won’t say it would be a bad thing for them to merely possess the weapon, provided it is never used.

      • ColinWright
        October 6, 2012, 4:19 pm

        An Iranian atomic bomb would be of only the most marginal use in promoting aggression against Israel; for obvious reasons, she couldn’t actually use it on Israel.

        Moreover, I doubt if Iran would even be all that interested. For all the rhetoric, Iran’s real geo-political and even ideological interests are considerably closer to home than Israel; Israel’s a useful whipping boy to delegitimize her opponents, but that’s about it.

        Iran would like to see Israel go away; I’d like to see the mountain gorillas of the Eastern Congo survive and prosper. However, at the end of the day, the issue doesn’t pay the rent for either one of us, and we just aren’t going to do all that much about it.

        Israel is perfectly well aware of all this. What this is really all about is Israel’s own need for conflict with an external enemy, and Iran just happens to be the most suitable candidate at the moment.

        We are pursuing a futile and evil policy at the behest of a state whose own sociological problems are so overwhelming that they drive her own foreign policy. It’s like stealing chickens to feed to your neighbor because he likes to bite their heads off. It makes that much sense.

    • Citizen
      October 3, 2012, 5:56 pm

      Israel has the bomb, lots of them. Israel has engaged in preemptive war many times in its short life, and is not a member of the NNPT. Israel constantly threatens Iran, & its enabler superpower US does nothing to stop this.

      Iran has no bomb. Iran has not initiated an attack on another country in 250 years. Iran is a member of the NNPT. Iran is constantly subject to threat by USA & Israel.
      Both countries supported the Iraqi attack on Iran and both supported the installation of the tyrant Shah over the democratically elected Iranian regime in 1953.

    • eljay
      October 3, 2012, 6:16 pm

      >> … you WANT Iran to have the nuclear capaility not to defend itself … [but] … because you hope that it will use it and drive the jews into the sea or into the grave.

      You WANT Israel to have nukes not to defend itself but so that the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” can continue, unimpeded, with its 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

      Actually, never mind Iran having nukes – give ’em to the Palestinians. They REALLY need ’em!

    • ColinWright
      October 6, 2012, 4:33 pm

      asherpat says: “…You want Iran to have nuclear capability because you hope that it will use it and drive the jews into the sea or into the grave. C’mon, be sincere and admit it.”

      How — precisely — would an Iranian atomic bomb make that possible?

  9. libra
    October 3, 2012, 5:10 pm

    PW: I’ve used the word “containment.”

    Even containment is an essentially negative long-term policy, implying a danger that must be caged up. What if the US had just continued to contain China?

    I’ve used the word “engagement” as the polar opposite of sanctions to promote economic growth and integration with the rest of the world. Certainly such a policy would create a more powerful Iran but one with too much to lose by behaving aggressively (though there is little evidence of such behaviour anyway).

    Who would lose from such a situation? Corporate America with a new market for iPhones and airliners? Or Zionist Israel becoming a minnow (though potentially a very prosperous one for all its people) in an economically advanced Middle East? The answer tells you who is pushing current US policy and why.

    The problem is the current generation of US politicians make Nixon look like a giant.

  10. piotr
    October 4, 2012, 12:31 am

    I do not think that Iran is truly pursuing nuclear weapons. They want to have an ability, but actual nukes would not be more helpful to survival than conventional capability to lob missiles at the tankers in Strait of Hormuz and resist bombardment, the way Hezbollah resisted in Lebanon in 2008. The difference would be a much better grade of missiles that Iranian military would be using.

    The nuclear issue is only tangentially related to American conflict with Iran. Iran was “our” country on the eve of revolution. Undoing the revolution/Islamic regime was an American goal ever since, which included all possible steps that would hurt the economy of Iran and its military options. Conversely, it was and is an Iranian strategy to collect as many malcontents with American policies as possible to have some allies and strategic points. The fact that Israel generates such malcontents is to a degree boon for Iran, but given the nature of Israeli influence within USA, it also adds a hysterical edge to American opposition to Iranian regime.

    While in 2000 the question of an American attack on Iran was quite debatable, since then we have learned enough to predict a huge debacle. In a nutshell, the regime has an ability to mobilize and survive a prolonged external conflict, while USA cannot sustain a conflict with a country that has

    3 times population of Iraq
    much more modern military than Saddam’s Iraq
    lots of mountains
    capability to block Strait of Hormuz, activate proxy warfare in Afghanistan
    possible support and supplies from Russia and China through secure routes

    Thus “who benefits” analysis shows that American policies require “containment” of Iran that stops short of a direct attack, while conversely, Iran can benefit from such an attack. After all, a blockade of oil in Persian Gulf or our forces in Afghanistan may force us to humiliating concessions, but Iran cannot pull that out without Sino-Russian support (that support does not need to be particularly active, but one can expect credible threats from China and Russia that would stop escalation of the attack on Iran).

    Thus the reason for the nuclear program of Iran is to be sufficiently “nuclear” to drive USA and Israel to conniptions, and peaceful enough to retain the necessary degree of military backing.

  11. ColinWright
    October 6, 2012, 4:09 pm

    On the one hand, I’ve long felt that it is all equivalent to my neighbor repeatedly threatening to kill me if I buy a gun. I become all the more motivated to buy a gun as soon as possible. Iran has every reason to want some impressive deterrent in place as soon as possible. In this connection, I’ll point out that bombs are hardly the only possibility; we’re giving Iran every reason to paddle around with various unstable and potentially quite uncontrollable chemical and biological agents. Her and her high school chemistry set…not a reassuring prospect.

    On the other hand, I don’t see Iran acquiring nuclear or other agents of mass destruction as actually a good thing. Screw Israel: Iran is an unstable fundamentalist Shi’a state surrounded by Sunni states with large and often restive Shi’a populations; it’s a recipe for disaster.

    Fairly obviously, one would think the answer is to drop the threats and continue with the sanctions. Simply make it overwhelmingly in Iran’s interest not to acquire a bomb.

    Right now, we are making it overwhelmingly in her interest to acquire a bomb. Aside from all the other problems with our current policy, it’s nonsensical.

  12. ColinWright
    October 6, 2012, 4:44 pm

    Another aspect of it all is that with this pathological attempt to engineer a war with Iran, Israel is of course pushing Iran to fight openly for her right to develop nuclear weapons — she is, in effect, further legitimizing the concept.

    …and who’s going to pick up on that? Why Turkey, of course. I kind of like Turkey — but they do like to see themselves as the regional big dog.

    …and if nuclear weapons are on the table, they would be something the big dog would have. And if there’s anyone in the region who is perfectly capable of pursuing their acquisition while fending off any attempts at sanctions, etc, it’s Turkey.

    So Israel’s just screwing herself. A nuclear-armed Turkey can and will do far more to make Israel’s life miserable than a nuclear-armed Iran ever would. I imagine Turkey will start the program — and when others object, calmly offer to disarm if Israel does so as well.

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