Q&A Friday #54: How Would We Deal With A Nuclear Iran?

Question: If Iran manages to acquire nuclear weapons, which is looking more and more likely, what do you think the US response will be?” — Ben89

Answer: I wouldn’t say it’s a given that Iran will be allowed to acquire nukes. Bush does not strike me as the sort of guy who would willingly let that happen on his watch and we, in the general public, really have no idea how far away the Iranians are from nuclear weapons. So, it’s entirely possible that Bush or for that matter, maybe even Olmert, is biding his time and waiting for the right time to hammer them.

But, if they do get WMD’s, it’s going to be extremely difficult for us to deal with.

That’s because #1, if Iran gets WMDS, a half-dozen other countries will probably develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves from Iran. You can expect Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and who knows how many other nations over there to instantly start working on nuclear programs.

That’s going to lead to the 2nd big problem. The M.A.D strategy, you launch nukes at us and we launch nukes with you, isn’t going to work very well if there are a half-dozen countries with connections to terrorists that could have been responsible for a suicide bomber with a nuke leveling D.C. If someone launches a missile with a nuclear warhead at you, you know who’s responsible. If Iran gets nukes and that very predictably starts a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, a day could come where we would lose multiple cities to nuclear weapons without even being sure who was responsible for it.

Beyond those very serious problems, there’s the fact that Iran has, in so many words, threatened to nuke our ally Israel out of existence. Furthermore, Iran is not a country that would be above nuclear blackmail. You know, we’re about to invade Iraq / Saudi Arabia / wherever and if you try to stop us, we’ll nuke you.

If we allow Iran to acquire the bomb, it will forever change the world for the worse and will likely lead to the United States getting nuked at some point in the future. That’s why, if it came right down to it, there is no such thing as going too far in an effort to stop Iran from acquiring nukes. If the only way to stop them from acquiring nukes is for us to bomb every population center in their nation back to the stone age, I’d say do it. If the only way for Israel to stop them from acquiring nukes is to pre-emptively nuke them, I’d say do it. The Iranians have to be stopped from getting nukes by any means necessary.

Just a possible suggestion, M.A.D. could be salvaged, just in a way I think those who are screaming for its resurrection might not be all too happy with. Specifically, we could go with what I’m provisionally calling the “Strangelove option”. That is, set a list of countries that we will immediately launch a full-scale nuclear assault on in the event of nuclear detonation within the U.S. No investigation. No proof. No questions. Just the go code. The only way a given country could hope to “save itself” would be to get off of the list.” — Bill_Dalasio

I’ve heard this suggested before and while theoretically, it might work, if we don’t have the guts to bomb Iran now in order to stop them from getting nuclear weapons, does anyone really think we’d really be willing to nuke a half dozen countries in the future if a nuclear weapon were to go off in the US?

In other words, if we don’t have the will to do something much less destructive today in one country, what makes anyone think we’d be willing to unleash this tsunami of nuclear destruction across a half dozen countries, especially given that we’d know that most of them didn’t deserve it?

Moreover, even if we did it, what sort of chain of destruction would we be unleashing? Let’s say Saudi Arabia has nukes, but didn’t have anything to do with a terrorist attack on us. If we were to turn Riyadh into a glowing hole in the ground in retaliation for, let’s say, an Iranian nuclear attack, who’s to say that the Saudis wouldn’t then be inspired to try to sneak a nuke into another city in retaliation or cut off our oil or screw us some other way. I mean you simply can’t nuke a nation that didn’t attack you and expect them to just take it lying down or forgive and forget.

Long story short, Iran has to be stopped before it gets to that point.

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