Thursday, October 01, 2009

Iran: all choices bad so go for the symbolic

Although I am nowhere near so frightened about Iran eventually getting a nuclear weapon as almost everybody else feigns to be, there is little question that the Iranian regime knows how to push buttons and create tensions. The problem from the U.S./West perspective is that there are no good options. People thrust their chests out and say Israel will bomb them, but not only would Israel have to cross Iraqi airspace (which would mean explicit U.S. approval/cooperation), there's little likelihood that it would locate and damage all or even most of Iran's secret nuclear facilities. If the Iranians have any ambivalence -- several Iranian experts I talked to said it was quite possible they're enriching right up to the point of having the components of a bomb that they could then finish like a "turnkey" operation whenever they decided, but might not build it as soon as it was technologically possible, rather wait until a propitious moment to announce it. Diplomacy might work, but it's hardly guaranteed and would take a long time.

So the feel-good option of imposing economic sanctions is the fallback position. But such sanctions seldom harm the regime that inspired them; indeed, they're more likely to hurt the people who are already oppressed but reinforce the rulers' power. And besides the fact that China is likely to cast a Security Council veto and Russia is hardoly a sure thing, it shouldn't be hard for Iran to beat a sanctions regime with smuggling, probably fuirther enrichjing the Revolutionary Guard along the way.

Perhaps the best choice is to quit meddling and quit paying attention to Ahmadinejad's rants?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it very, very, very hard to believe that Iran is a threat to the United States. Consider the distance of geography. Iran would still have to make the bomb and then have an Inter-continental misile to carry it all the way to America. Furthermore America's inevitable retaliation would be terrible. The Mullahs must realize this. I just wonder how much of this is really due to the Israeli and Jewish lobbies? Note how countries that have neither, like China or Mexico, for instance, are not concerned about Iran. In any case how come it is "okay" for America (and Israel too for that matter,) to have nuclear weapons but not Iran? Hypocrisy? I would add that America is the only country in history to ever actually USE nuclear weapons too. Not once, but twice, and against an already defeated foe.