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Iran and the Bomb

Via Meadia has often made clear our supreme confidence that Iran would use the bomb responsibly, if at all, should the peace-loving mullahs manage to develop it. The Guardian reports more news of a confidence-building nature:

A multinational investigation into bomb plots targeting Israeli diplomats earlier this year has produced the clearest evidence yet that Iran was involved, illustrating the risks to the west if it fails to reach detente with Tehran over its nuclear weapons programme…

In India, local agencies told ministers a bomb attack which badly injured the wife of the Israeli military attaché in New Delhi in February was the work of an Iranian “security entity”.

As stories like this one make clear, Iran is exactly the sort of regime we want to empower with nukes. Who better to be responsible stewards of the most destructive weapons known to man?

In all seriousness though, it should be obvious by now to all reasonable observers that Iran is an unstable regime shot through with dangerous anti-Semitic impulses, apocalyptic fantasy and convoluted conspiracy thinking that has no business anywhere near nuclear weapons. In this regard, much ink has been spilled over whether the mullahs are “rational actors” or not–i.e. whether they would bomb Israel even if this would result in devastating retaliation–but Via Meadia thinks that such speculation misses an important point: anti-Semitism is never a rational policy, yet it persists. Infamously, Hitler and the Nazis exiled their own best physicists because they were Jewish, enabling the US to win the nuclear arms race and ultimately World War II. History is replete with stories of countries driving productive citizens into exile because Jew-hatred is an irrational passion that overmasters common sense and destroys the ability to perceive ones own best interests.

True, risking a retaliatory nuclear strike requires an unusual degree of paranoia and hatred, but enough Israelis have enough historical memory of the irrationality that Jew-hatred brings in its wake that it’s unrealistic to expect Israel to accept an Iranian bomb no matter how rational the experts say the mullahs really are.

Those fears cannot just be dismissed. If there were an Olympics of Jew-hating, the competition for the gold medal would be tough, but few could deny that Iran fields a strong team. Few countries, if any, have engaged in more anti-Semitic activity or can match the hothouse conspiracy thinking routinely encountered in the Islamic Republic that made Ahmadinejad a world famous religious nut. While it’s true that not-so-mysterious computer viruses and other untoward accidents involving nuclear scientists give Iranians solid ground for worrying about Israeli measures against their government, Iranian hostility and paranoia about Israel and Jews predates official Israeli hostility toward Iran and its nuclear program.

It’s important to remember that Israel didn’t start the clandestine war between the two countries. Way back in 1994, Iran was implicated in the bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people and wounded scores more. It was an act of unprovoked overseas terrorism for which Interpol has charged five Iranian officials–including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi. When not carrying out such attacks themselves, Iran has been funneling money and arms to anti-Israel terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah for many years; back in 2002, during the Second Intifada, Iran sent 50 tons of weaponry to the PLO aboard the Karine-A freighter, which was intercepted by the Israelis and brandished as the link between Iran and the terrorist group by the EU’s Javier Solana. Iran’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish escapades, in other words, are nothing new, and certainly not a response to recent tensions.

Even if there were no Israel, Iran’s nuclear drive threatens some vital American interests and allies, and the US would have to resist. Countries like Saudi Arabia view Iran’s government with a deep fear and loathing. Throw Israel into the mix, as a factor in Middle East politics and the US domestic politics on the issue, and President Obama’s oft-repeated judgment on the matter looks sound: the US must stop any Iranian bomb drive because the effort to contain a nuclear Iran will make everything in the Middle East even worse than it is.


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  • thibaud

    Excellent post by Dr Jekyll-Mead, the better angel of VM: fact-based, knowledgeable, free of sneers and snarls.

    But also nothing that hasn’t been said many times already. What course of action, exactly, does Dr Jekyll-Mead propose?

    What should the current administration do over the next four months?

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I continue to advocate the Strategic bombing of Iran’s entire soft target energy industry, putting them all on foot and in the dark. By making an example of Iran, not only would we stop the flow of money to terrorist groups like Hamas, and Hezbollah, we would send a message to every one of our enemies that they enjoy modern technological civilization on our sufferance.

    “From time to time you have to swing the Big Stick to effect; if you want your Speaking Softly to carry any weight.” Jacksonian Libertarian

  • Alex Scipio

    As Syria is showing now, as the decade of Iraq-Iran war showed then, and as 1400 years of history prove, the best solution to an unstable Iran having a Bomb… is to give Saudi Arabia one. Arab Sunni have been killing Shia Persians every chance they’ve had – for centuries. The Saudis already have given the Israeli air force overflight permission for an Iran attack. Perhaps Israel could just GIVE the Saudis ONE BOMB, and then stand back & watch history continue. Of course Israel could make a trade: Saudi resettles the Palestinians kept in refugee camps by the Saudis for generations — and israel will give Saudi a bomb. Problems fixed, no American fingerprints. If no one tells Obama about it, perhaps it even could remain secret.

  • donzi_boy

    The Saudis already have their nukes in storage in Pakistan and planes with pilots permanently stationed in Pakistan to bring them home if necessary. Saudi Arabia is a financier of Pakistan. Saudi Arabia has had this arrangement for some time as a counterweight to Israel’s imminent nuclear capacity. So nuclear capacity is already in the hands of middle eastern powers. Iran’s game is to displace American hegemony in the middle east. Nuclear capacity for a poor country like Iran is just a tactic of the larger strategy to create a Persian/Islamic empire. The idea that Iran could dominate the middle east is the dangerous delusion. Nothing short of regime change is going to thwart their ambition. Destruction of their nuclear capacity will be a good start to that project.

  • Lorenz Gude

    Since the Enlightenment the Western mind has often been besotted with ‘Reason’. And for the good reason (sorry) that applied reason – ie science – has transformed the world. So Westerners who place too much faith in Reason (sorry again) often project their reasonableness on people who are otherwise motivated. Many Jews of the highest intelligence and education died in the gas chambers because they projected a greater rationality on Der Fuhrer than was warranted. And, like Alchminidjad, he told them up front too – and they didn’t believe him. Many also had the sense to run. And that sense was not a kind of reason. More an ability recognize a psychopath and then using reason to take appropriate action.

  • Kris

    Lorenz@5: “And, like Alchminidjad, he told them up front too – and they didn’t believe him.”

    it took
    a nipponized bit of
    the old sixth
    el;in the top of his head:to tell

  • Ritchie The Riveter

    This is what we get, when free people view a totalitarian regime (with small appearances of democracy) as deserving equivalent sovereign respect to a rights-respecting government … another example of how neither “democracy” nor “self-determination” are sufficient to create conditions for sustainable peace.

    Confrontation with the Mad Mullahs is inevitable … the question is who will set the terms of the confrontation: free people, or the tyrants?

  • Kris

    Ritchie@7: I’m not a Randian, but I’m partial to this quote:

    Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

  • Maranello550

    But what is President Obama really prepared to do to prevent this disastrous scenario? One thing is for sure, we’re not going to find out in an election year, and the Iranian regime knows it.

    I believe that the only way we can truly solve this problem is if the US, Russia, China and the EU develop a common approach, or even an international alliance to protect stability. There are things we all agree on despite our differences. I believe that an honest approach needs to be made by the US to these nations, an approach that maybe gives some concessions for a more important goal. This, dare we say, coalition’s, new authority after perhaps solving the Iranian issue could also make new demands on Israel, the Palestinians and lead to change in Syria. It takes political bravery though.

    China and Russia have human rights issues, but those we can get back to later. Right now we need to prevent an unpredictable regime from putting a warhead on an ICBM.

  • Proyectos

    Eric thanks for the link to the Antwerp aiporrt happening. It reminded me that an tour group that I had hoped to join, would be returning from Tehran by way of Europe in the midst of the volcanic cloud disruptions. I’m wondering how the group has fared. I imagined group members scrambling to extend their visas in Iran; I had that experience (my visa was 6 hours short so my tour organizer insisted I apply for an extension, a process that took about 14 hours. I thought is was silly what’s the worst that could happen if my visa expired prematurely Iran would throw me out of the country!) I had those thoughts in mind as I watched the Tehran University students discuss Obama’s NowRooz messages to Iran. Flynt mentioned forthrightly that the perception of Iran amongst Americans is quite negative. Yet, as one of the students said, American tourists in Iran have always been treated very well, and that was certainly my experience. But the Tehran students seemed to project a cooling in their assessment of Americans. I wonder if I will experience the same degree of welcome and friendliness toward Americans the next time I visit Iran, for the astonishing thing that Obama has accomplished is to give Iranians reason to think as unfavorably towards Americans as he allows propagandists in the US to poison Americans’ perceptions of Iran. Heckuva job, Obama.

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