We Can Live With A Nuclear Iran? No, We Can’t.

Over at the Atlantic, faux conservative Andrew Sullivan says a nuclear Iran is fine with him and that the people who are concerned about it are really just doing the bidding of those sneaky Jews!

On the Iran question, there can be little doubt that waging a pre-emptive war on the Persian regime is now the principal policy objective of the neocon right. To elect McCain is almost certainly to endorse a new war with Iran within the next four years. Again, this could be justified on the grounds of America’s interests and not Israel’s. But again, the case is getting a little harder to make. The world and the West can live, after all, with a deterred and contained nuclear Iran. Israel cannot. McCain and Lieberman hold the Podhoretz position on Iran; Obama is a few pragmatic notches away. Those notches – minor to most observers – nonetheless render Obama unacceptable to the Jewish right. Even after his AIPAC speech.

Let’s consider what living with nuclear Iran would mean.

First of all, we would not just be living with a “nuclear Iran.” We would be living with a nuclear Iran, a nuclear Syria, a nuclear Iraq, a nuclear Saudi Arabia, a nuclear Egypt, a nuclear Kuwait, etc., etc., etc. For all their anti-Israeli bluster, the nations in that region understand that Israel has nukes for defensive purposes. They may hate the Israelis, but they understand that they’re fundamentally moral people with no interest in conquering the region. But, Iran? Iran is run by fanatical maniacs with a history of supporting terrorism and making outlandish and violent threats. If Iran builds nukes, all the other nations in the region that are capable of acquiring or building nuclear weapons will do so out of fear of what Iran will do with their nuclear weapons.

Now, once we get to that point — and we have 7 or 8 unstable dictatorships in nations full to the brim with anti-American, anti-Israeli religious fanatics — how long do you think it will take for a nuclear weapon to be used in Israel or the United States?

People like Sullivan would say, “Oh, but if they fire a nuke at Israel or the United States, we’ll eradicate them! Deterrence worked with the Soviets.”

Here’s the problem: if they give the nuclear weapons to a terrorist group and a suicide bomber detonates it in Tel Aviv or for that matter, Los Angeles, New York, and Houston, whom do we eradicate in retaliation? The Iranians? The Saudis? The Syrians? The idea that we will definitively know where the nuclear weapon that destroys a city comes from would seem to be a very iffy assumption.

The next step — and I have actually heard people suggest this — is that we nuke every nation in the region with nukes if we’re hit. Are we really going to do that? Are we going to fire off nukes and kill 100 million people, atop the world’s oil supply, all of whom had nothing to do with nuking us? Hell, we get squeamish about killing a dozen civilians when we’re going after high value terrorist targets as is. What makes anyone think that the sort of person who will plausibly become President of the United States will have the terrible will required to kill 100 million innocent people to make sure the people responsible for hitting us suffer, too?

PS: I don’t think putting McCain in office means a war with Iran — and I would certainly hope it would never come to that — but if we got down to the unpleasant choice between war with Iran and letting them have nukes, I would unquestionably favor war with Iran. The consequences of doing otherwise, which would likely include nuclear weapons going off in multiple US cities without our knowing where they came from, would be unthinkable.

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