Who said “Iran must not have nuclear weapons?”

Middle-East-mapI’d be the first to agree that the world would be a safer place if Iran did not have nuclear weapons, that seems like a “no brainer” to me.  But I’d also be first to recognize that an Iranian might see my “no brainer” as easy to say, coming as I do from a country with a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons.

If I were an Israeli I could easily wish Iran would not develop a nuclear capability.  I don’t know that I could say that I didn’t understand, offensively and defensively, why it might be impelled to develop one.  My own country is “understood” to have nuclear weapons although it does not openly acknowledge that it does.  Whether it does or doesn’t, the fact that it is widely perceived to have them is surely a deterrent against attack from others.  Wouldn’t it still be a deterrent if Iran had nuclear weapons?  If both have them does it fate us (Israel) to a small-scale – but still large and costly –  war with Iran because neither of us wants to confront a nuclear war?

Aren’t nuclear weapons a deterrent to their own use?  As far as I know, there is no nuclear weapon use that can truly be precisely targeted.  Radiation persists, is caught up in wind and water and spreads as nature rather than nations would wish.  Despite some of the regimes that have nuclear weapons being among the least stable in our world, all I’ve been able to read suggests that they behave very responsibly about their weapons.

Once all the “responsible states” (especially those that already have nuclear weapons) begin to say that “Iran must not secure a nuclear weapons capability” are they not setting the stage, within Iran, for an absolute determination to get them?  Pick another powerful state that would respond differently to others telling it what it must and must not do!

“We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran” Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly (update 3: “Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb…?” 01/26/2012)

Most of what’s published on this blog is just my opinion, often based on little more than other blogs I read and the MSM.  And, although I uphold the idea of contrariness for its own sake, most of what’s here is not greatly beyond the mainstream.  Arguing for why Iran should get nuclear weapons and would get them inevitably was, in late January when I posted about it, contrary to all the received opinion I was seeing.  The article linked below is by someone with some genuine expertise in the Middle East.  It is nice to see that I am not the only person who thinks that, however undesirable it might be for Iran to have nuclear weapons, the sky will not fall.

We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran by Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly

US Agencies see no move by Iran to build a bomb. Echoes of WMD findings before we invaded Iraq?

“American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb,” reports the New York Times. “Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”

See item #2 on the following link:

http://law.fordham.edu/national-security/25410.htm

Crude but this does appear to be our strategy…War on terror is in its Third Round – latimes.com, Andrew Bacevich

With over a billion Muslims in the world it is difficult to imagine this as a successful strategy since it risks radicalizing those who now bear us only suspicion, not ill-will.  It also risks eventually crossing the line at which national security interests prevail entirely over individual rights set out in the Constitution, a line I distinguish from the present regrettable situation only by the fact that the population gets excited and active about civil liberties.  (I hasten to say, I have no special knowledge of Vickers’ thinking and am relying on Bacevich to characterize it accurately here.)

With former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates gone, Vickers is the senior remaining holdover from George W. Bush’s Pentagon. His background is nothing if not eclectic. He previously served in the Army Special Forces and as a CIA operative. In the 1980s he played a leading role in supporting the Afghan mujahedin in their war against Soviet occupiers. Subsequently, he worked in a Washington think tank and earned a doctorate in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Even during the Bush era, Vickers never subscribed to expectations that the United States could liberate or pacify the Islamic world. His preferred approach to combating terrorism is simplicity itself. “I just want to kill those guys,” he likes to say, “those guys” referring to members of Al Qaeda. Kill the people who want to kill Americans and don’t stop until they are all dead: This defines the Vickers strategy, which has now become U.S. strategy (Emphasis added)

For Vickers, this means acting aggressively to eliminate would-be killers wherever they might be found, employing whatever means necessary. Vickers “tends to think like a gangster,” one admiring former colleague comments. “He can understand trends, then change the rules of the game so they are advantageous for your side.”

Round 3 is all about bending, breaking and reinventing rules in ways thought to be advantageous to the United States. Much as counterinsurgency supplanted “shock and awe,” a broad-gauged program of targeted assassination has now displaced counterinsurgency as the prevailing expression of the American way of war. The United States is finished with the business of sending large land armies to invade and occupy countries. Instead, it uses missile-firing drones along with hit-and-run attacks to eliminate anyone the president of the United States decides to eliminate (including the occasional U.S. citizen).

This is America’s new M.O. Paraphrasing a threat issued by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Washington Post dispatch succinctly summarized what this implies: “The United States reserved the right to attack anyone who it determined posed a direct threat to U.S. national security, anywhere in the world.”

Furthermore, the president exercises this supposed right without warning, without regard to claims of national sovereignty, without congressional authorization and without consulting anyone other than Vickers and a few other members of the national security apparatus.

via War on terror is in its Third Round – latimes.com.

If I were a loyal Iranian… (update: “Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb” 01/26/2012) Will Romney’s promises match national security realities?

Romney has repeatedly said that “Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” He often has emphasized that the option of attacking Tehran’s nuclear facilities is “on the table.” In that sense, his position is no different than Obama’s, who in his State of the Union speech said, “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.”

via Will Romney’s promises match national security realities? – The Washington Post.

Once again, don’t US national security realities indicate that, if Iran wants atomic weapons, we and our allies are powerless to do more than delay their development?  Changing the regime would mean war and a long term commitment in the area.  Americans will fight wars but tend to lose patience with long term commitments in other areas of the world.  A war strategy would also require assessing how other countries in the Middle East would respond to our once more taking military action there.  Those who can be influenced toward violence toward us and our allies would have another recruiting tool.  Would even the most reasonable of Muslims in 2001 when we were attacked might, in the aftermath of Iraq, the continuation or aftermath of Afghanistan (depending on timing), see one more war initiative by the US as different from a “crusade syndrome?”

Isn’t the question whether any of the candidates promise national security strategies, policies that match national security realities?

Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb…or why wouldn’t it…Am I the only one?

There is some reason to believe that our policies on nuclear agreements and proliferation of nuclear capabilities for energy and possibly warfare at some point, are recognizing the obvious, however sad the reality may be.

From the Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2012 (emphasis added):

“The Obama administration in 2009 signed a nuclear-cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates that bound the Arab country not to enrich uranium domestically or reprocess spent plutonium fuel, the two technologies that can be used to produce atomic weapons.

[USNUKE] Yonhap News Agency/European Pressphoto AgencyWorkers in Ulsan, South Korea, applaud the installation of the South Korean-built reactor core in July 2010.

President Barack Obama cited the U.A.E. agreement as the “gold standard” for future nuclear-cooperation pacts. Washington has used the deal to press Iran over its nuclear program, arguing that Tehran should follow the Emirates and rely on the international market for nuclear fuel.

U.S. officials involved in the policy review said the Obama administration concluded that most countries wouldn’t be willing to follow the U.A.E. model, and that insisting on it would hurt American interests.

They said Washington risked losing business for American companies seeking to build nuclear reactors overseas, and could greatly diminish its ability to influence the nonproliferation policies of developing countries.

I know why many countries in addition to the US don’t want Iran to get the bomb and see it as a threat to their security.  What I don’t know is how all these pronouncements about how it cannot be allowed to get the bomb have any meaning.

Absent going to war with it, a security-threatening step not taken when India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and, much earlier, the Soviet Union, got the bomb and in part because all the named countries and the US have it, the argument for why Iran should not get it is far from obvious.

Iran, for better or worse, is the place where conclusions about what will adequately defend it from aggression or prepare it for pre-emptive war is to be made.  It may want it for the latter purpose: to wage aggressive war against its perceived enemies but it is far from clear to me why it shouldn’t prepare for its plans, aggressive or defensive, as it chooses, if the other nuclear powers have done so.

What possible activity, especially long-term activity, short of war (which, although the US seems at times to forget its own experience, is a “long-term activity”, extending beyond the engagement of troops), can stop Iran?  Agreements, inspections, and embargoes may delay the process or make it necessary for Iran to be more covert about how it secures atomic weapons but all are delaying tactics.

It looks to me like Iran will have nuclear weapons no matter what the rest of us want.  I suspect that even after “regime change” any new regime would feel obliged to continue the process of securing them, just to show it was independent and not subject to Israel and the West.

Don’t hesitate to explain where you think I misunderstand this issue.