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It's stupid, dangerous and wrong to demand Iran's humiliation

Whatever he tells the UN, Rouhani will not agree to give up nuclear weapons to please his country’s nuclear-armed enemies. And when it’s clear that he won’t, it’s his enemies who will face humiliation.

I don’t believe Rouhani means it when he says Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons. And even if he does, I don’t believe the supreme leader, Khamenei, would back him up, nor would the Iranian political/military establishment, nor would a very large proportion of the Iranian public, maybe a majority, maybe a large majority. Why shouldn’t Iran want nuclear weapons? Every major power and would-be major power wants nuclear weapons; look at the ones who’ve got them. The present nuclear powers don’t want to nuke anybody, if for no other reason than that they don’t want to be nuked in return. (If Japan or one of its allies had had nukes in World War II, there would have been no Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Ambitious countries want nukes for protection and for the prestige they bring.

This, I believe, is why Iran wants them, too, and this is one of the reasons I don’t think Iran will hand them over, even under terrible economic pressure from sanctions. But the main reason I don’t see Iran giving up its nuclear program is because it would be a colossal humiliation – letting enemy countries with nuclear weapons, including one that actually used them on two cities, force Iran to wash its hands of them, and after all these decades of work and expense and hope and pride, after all these decades of saying no to America, Israel, Britain and the like. There’s no way I can see Iran doing it – and I’m one of those who think Iran is a rational country, one that would not nuke Israel or any other country if only because it doesn’t want to get annihilated in return. Those others who think Iran has to be stopped because it is irrational, yet who at the same time believe it will humiliate itself so abjectly before its nuclear-armed enemies by defanging its own nuclear program – these people, and there are many, beginning with Benjamin Netanyahu, are the real irrational actors in this story.

If it were up to me, I would say: If the Iranians want to build nuclear weapons, let them. If they use them against us, they’re dead. If they give them to some floating terrorist group that uses them against us, they’re still dead, along with lots of their neighbors. That’s our deterrent against Iran and against the terrorist groups. It’s the sort of deterrent that’s kept nuclear peace all this time, even when Stalin and Mao had the bomb, and there’s no reason to think it won’t work with Iran and its friends, too. Nobody wants his civilization wiped out. There’s no need to go to war with Iran, and it’s a little insane to see war as a way of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of our enemies throughout the decades and centuries to come.

But it’s not up to me, or to those who agree with me, to decide how to deal with Iran; that’s up to the leaders of the world, and evidently they can’t say that the way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is to just relax. They have to do something. They have to show that they’re alert, and on guard, and resolute, and determined. They’re leaders, and by God they have to act like it. And none of them, except Netanyahu, really has any heart for going to war with Iran, but they still have to show that they mean business or they’ll look like wusses, so they come up with these sanctions. And not just sanctions, but sanctions that bite! Crippling sanctions! How’s that for leadership?

Now if the Iranians cry uncle and agree to downsize their nuclear program and allow inspections to the point that they couldn’t make weapons even if they wanted to, then the West and Israel can claim victory. If Iran agrees to be grandly humiliated by the Great Satan, the Little Satan and all the other, intermediate Satans, it’s mission accomplished.

But if Iran doesn’t agree? If Iran insists on going nuclear, or even gaining and staying within quick, easy access of going nuclear, then it will be Iran’s enemies, the leaders of the so-called free world who, after decades of talking tough, will be monumentally humiliated. Can the president of the United States allow that? Can the leaders of Europe? (With Netanyahu, it’s a different story; in his mind it’s more than humiliation, it’s allowing a second Holocaust.)

Ironically, now that Rouhani is sounding conciliatory, it’s harder than ever for people to say out loud that the world can live with a nuclear Iran. The attitude is: “If the Iranian president says he doesn’t want nukes, you’re going to tell him it’s okay, he can build them? What, do you want the Iranians to have nuclear weapons in their hands? No, if the Iranian president is going to tell the UN, ‘Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,’ let’s take him up on it. Let’s hold his feet to the fire.”

The “containment camp” on Iran seems to have folded its tent. Everybody’s tough now, everybody’s determined, determined not to be made a fool of. There is no cowardice as dangerous, and as common, as the the cowardice that stops you from saying something that might get you called a coward.

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    1. Joel

      “Why shouldn’t Iran want nuclear weapons?

      Why did South Africa, Libya and the Ukraine disarm?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Stupid, idiotic Netanyahu probably has a lot to do with Iran’s desire to arm itself with nuclear weapons. His very insistence – if not outright demand – that Iran be denied having any nuclear capability probably only whetted their appetite for getting it. If it wasn’t for this bumbling moron who calls himself Bibi (or is it Peepee?), the U.S. could probably have struck a deal with Iran years ago, just like it did with Libya. But for Netanyahu (or is it Nutty Yahoo?) that wouldn’t be enough. No, Iran must be thoroughly vanquished and humiliated for us to feel good about ourselves, so the thinking goes in Israel. And in the end, it is always Israel that comes out humiliated (though for a man who calls himself Peepee Nuttyahoo, that’s par for the course).

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        What are you talking about?!

        1. Netanyahu is PM since 2009, while the Iranian military nuclear program probably pre-dates that by at least a decade. No achievement could have been made – because Iran clears wishes to obtain nuclear weapons.

        2. Iran can have all the nuclear technology it wants. The problem is their military nuclear program. They are going through tough sanctions that cripple their economy. They are very far from being stupid and no leadership would go through that for nothing.

        3. No one is Israel thinks the way you describe (maybe you’re an exception). All we want is for Iran to stop its military nuclear program. So should wish any sane person.

        4. Netanyahu probably achieves more while he’s taking a dump than you do in a year. I don’t always agree with what he does, but the man is far from a fool and his achievements – military, academic and political are impressive. Your inability to respect people you disagree with speak more of you than of him.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Netanyahu and his ilk have been inciting against Iran for at least 20 years (he even wrote a book about Iran after being forced out of office in 1999). The man misses no opportunity to talk about Iran to the point of being absolutely insufferable (it wouldn’t surprise me if the U.N.G.A will be half empty during his latest speech). He has associated Israel with warmongering better than any other PM, including amazingly enough Sharon. He is a buffoon who has more in common with Danny Danon than with Obama and Kerry. He has no real achievements in his time as PM, other than as a stabilizer of the economy, which is not such a big achievement considering Israel has one of the biggest socioeconomic gaps in the developed world, as well as north of 20% poverty rate. I would venture by saying he achieves most during a day when he goes for a dump.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Average American

      Why the concern over Iran? Is the issue nuclear weapons or is it Iran itself?

      I mean to say, Iran could ignite and lead the Shia Crescent even without nuclear weapons. Heck, if you include Pakistan in the Crescent, they already have nuclear weapons. So the issue could be the fact of Iran, geographically and culturally.

      Or is the issue nuclear weapons. Destructive power. Long-term uninhabitability of bombed places. Distorted confidence. Misallocation of resources away from irrigation or schools.

      The issue is not, I hope, Israel’s safety. Israel has lots of nukes and I’ll bet the other countries in the region don’t feel safe from Israel. Don’t the other countries deserve safety too?

      The issue is not, I hope, religion. Rouhani dresses in his traditional clothing so he must be one of those (gasp!) Muslims! Run children!

      The issue could be something even bigger: the petrodollar. Most Americans have awoken to the conclusion that the war in Iraq and the changing of the regime there was because Hussein was going to stop using US Dollars for oil transactions. Not because of the official reasons our government fed to us, like WMD factories (of which there were none), like Israel felt threatened (they don’t have their own army?). So the issue could be that Iran could stop using the dollar too.

      There must be an underlying reason somewhere.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >I mean to say, Iran could ignite and lead the Shia Crescent even without nuclear weapons.

        With nukes it would be much easier.

        >Heck, if you include Pakistan in the Crescent, they already have nuclear weapons.

        Pakistan has India to deal with.

        >So the issue could be the fact of Iran, geographically and culturally.

        Or the fact of political agenda of Iran rulers.

        >The issue is not, I hope, Israel’s safety.

        Oh, thank you so much for your concern.

        >Israel has lots of nukes

        About 80. Much less than USA, Russia, China or India.

        >and I’ll bet the other countries in the region don’t feel safe from Israel.

        That’s pure bullshit.

        >Don’t the other countries deserve safety too?

        Could you please name countries which are threatened by Israeli nukes?

        >The issue is not, I hope, religion.

        Islamic conquest has begun about 1500 years ago and still is pretty much ongoing.

        Futile are your hopes.

        >Rouhani dresses in his traditional clothing so he must be one of those (gasp!) Muslims! Run children!

        Tell me children, what scares you the mose, a Muslim dressed in traditional clothing who is reading Koran, or a Muslim dressed in military uniform who is beheading a Christian?

        >The issue could be something even bigger: the petrodollar… So the issue could be that Iran could stop using the dollar too.

        As a matter of fact, Iran has already stopped using dollar.
        ‘Iran accepts renminbi for crude oil’, Financial Times, 7 May 2012.

        Dude, your understanding of surrounding reality is a bit too much outdated and incomplete.

        Reply to Comment
        • Marcos

          I love when you take the non-thinkers among us and take them to school. They owe you a humble “thank you”.

          Reply to Comment
    4. mt noise

      Why is it stupid and dangerous to demand Iran’s humiliation when you’re asking it of Israel every day?

      Reply to Comment
    5. aristeides

      Iran has the right to defend itself – from Israel, which is constantly inciting against it.

      So if the world is going to ask Iran to disarm, who will defend it? Will the US pledge to act in Iran’s defense if, say, Israel attacks it?

      Thought not.

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        I think Russia probably would defend Iran, it is Iran’s strongest ally. Iran used to be a strong US ally. Russia supports Iran and Syria as we support Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both sides have their tokens on the playing board. I think both sides are playing for oil, not political or religious ideals. What do you think?

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          But there’s no quid pro quo in it for Russia. Russia has been defending Iran for some time.

          It’s the US that’s making demands of Iran to disarm. It’s the US that has to pay for it.

          The reality is that Israel wants Iran disarmed so it can attack with impunity, so Iran can’t strike back. Why would Iran agree to this?

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >The reality is that Israel wants Iran disarmed so it can attack with impunity, so Iran can’t strike back. Why would Iran agree to this?

            You see, if Iran is disarmed, there are hardly any reasons to attack her.

            Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          The only real player is China. Strongest economy, strongest military. Only lacks oil.

          Chinese would love to occupy Iran. And really would not have a problem doing so.

          Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            That is an interesting thought. It’s true China lacks only oil. Is that why US wants to control Afghanistan, because geographically that’s the most likely route, the terrain through which a pipeline from Caspian oil to China could most easily be constructed by someone, including constructed by Iran, so US blocks it with Afghanistan?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Is that why US wants to control Afghanistan…

            No. Poppy.

            >because geographically that’s the most likely route

            China had practically occupied quite a few African countries, slowly taking over eastern regions of Russia, has immense influence on Iran, N. Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Kazakhstan, etc.

            The best thing you can do now with your life now is study Chinese.
            Thank me later.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Interesting article link.

            Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Aristid: You must be a stark raving lunatic for suggesting that Israel would attack Iran, period.

        I don’t believe Israel has the capability to attack Iran even if the incentive for it would be to stop a nuclear Iran. And if Iran would stop it’s nuclear initiative, Israel would not even have an incentive to attack Iran. Only a lunatic like you would think of suggesting such a possibility.

        Grow up, you are really tiresome.

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Bibi thinks of nothing but attacking Iran. Except when he’s attacking Syria or Lebanon or some other neighboring nation. Israel is a mad dog nation, and its neighbors have every reason to want weapons to defend against it.

          No one thinks that Iran would attack Israel, with its own nuclear arsenal. The “Iran threat” that Bibi can’t shut up about is solely the threatened ability to retaliate in response to Israeli aggression.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Israel is a mad dog nation”

            If I said that Arabs or your favourites, the Palestinians, are a mad dog nation, I wouldn’t hear the end of it Aristeid. You and your self righteous cohorts would have a field day calling me a racist. But you are not a racist, Aristeid?

            Grow up and stop being such a hypocrite.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            It was Moshe Dayan who said Israel should adopt the mad dog strategy. That anti-semite Dayan!

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Really? The same Dayan who let the Waqf keep control of the Dome of the rock, Judaism’s holiest site, after Israel’s stunning victory in 1967 against three Arab nations who openly promised to drive the Joooooooos into the sea?

            You are some piece of work Aristid.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Really. As in, reality instead of Zionist raving.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            So according to Morons like you Aristid, because Dayan was supposed to say what you said, because of that, “Israel is a mad dog nation”? And according to you, I am the one who is raving? Not you? And you are not racist? But I am?

            By the way, I accept your compliment. I AM a Zionist. And I am proud of it. I hope that pisses you off.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            You know, it’s easy enough to look these things up, if you just let loose of your comfy Zionist myths about gentle, harmless Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Two things Aristid:

            1. I did not say that Israel is gentle and harmless. If it would be, then there would be no Israel. But there is a huge difference between saying that and the racist thing that you said which was: “Israel is a mad dog country”.

            2. This is what Nasser, the president of Egypt, said in 1965 (March 8, 1965

            “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood”

            And this is what Shukeiry said on the 1st of June 1967:

            “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.” – Ahmed Shukairy, chairman of PLO in Jordanian Jerusalem, asked in news interview what will happen to the Israelis if there is a war.

            Now what should one call the Arabs and your Palestinians if one would use your racist logic?

            Reply to Comment
          • Peter Hindrup

            “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”
            General Moshe Dayan, Former Israeli Defense Minister

            Reply to Comment
    6. Laurent Szyster

      Yet another rant from the geostrategic grepser.

      And what about that war against Iran you announced countless times ?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Richard Witty

      The only way that the nuclear deterrent functions is by the “MAD” polarity.

      That is both the “mutually assured destruction” set of ‘agreements’, AND the madness of being willing to use nuclear weapons as a retaliatory second strike.

      It is the second madness that is utterly questionable among a rational actor. NO rational or power with any compassion at all would execute a second strike.

      I personally don’t believe that Israel would. I believe that it is more likely that the US would onto a power very remote from the US (for two reasons, one that the US is so big geographically, that almost all of the country would still be habitable after the first strike, and that Europeans or Asians are far far away and foreign).

      That is not the case with Israel. A first strike on Israel (say in retaliation for a large bombing) would devastate Israel (it would also devastate Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, which Iran claims to sympathize with).

      The MAD formula is not functional currently. It is better that nukes be gradually reduced and then eliminated than that they proliferate. (You are sadly siting the logic of the NRA, that the best way to preserve order is if everyone is armed. I think not.)

      They should be tested at their word. If they truly don’t want nuclear weapons capacity, then they should agree to the 5% or even 20% grade, with the offer of Russia technical assistance.

      Even the desire for nuclear power is really dumb frankly. In the states and Europe, plants are closing because of the long-term prospects that natural gas generated electricity costs half of what nuclear generated electricity does.

      All while Iran has abundant natural gas, and generating plants are relatively easy to construct, can be really quite small and modular, and without the risk of sabotage.

      The ball really is in Iran’s court about whether it intends to be a peaceful nation.

      The contention that it has not initiated military action in 300 years (often sited by the left) is false if you include actions by clients such as Hezbollah, overtly participating in the civil war in Syria (without having first been attacked). While Rouhani was not president when the Hezbollah action was initiated, he is now prime minister and Hezbollah is still in Syria and encouraged to be.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Well, Larry, you are entertaining and provocative, what opinion writing needs to be.

      Institutions are not necessarily rational, especially when in conflict internally and with other institutions. Iran’s nuclear program has cost dearly, from high inflation, paralysis in electronic world exchange, to an apparently free falling middle class, this last probably taking decades for recovery. It is not clear that superimposing a “nuclear club” goal makes their trajectory rational. I would also point out that you tend not to characterize Bibi as rational, so why various individuals in Iran?

      I suspect something else is going on. There are two major drains on Iran, their nuclear program and Syria. Both are heavily invested, with different military men vying for resources. Syria is irrecoverable if lost and, under your own logic of MAD, geopolitically more important. The nuclear program can be stopped and started later without too much cost, as they will keep a civil use nuclear potential. From what I read, they can shut down much of their refining technology and still do fine for civilian use, restarting these later. I can see Iran agreeing such a shut down, even with monitors, but refusing to remove the technology they have as an unacceptable intrusion into sovereignty.

      This give a win to the military involved in Syria, as well as a win to the Iranian Presidential Administration. The former win will help keep the nuclear losers in check. The Supreme Leader will be able to show his potential stopping hand to the military and decrease the net burden on foreign policy while sustaining the fight for Syrian control; he plays part of the military off the President. Since nuclear can be restarted, those losing this inside game won’t be able to effectively resist.

      I think this is what’s happening right now. The new President does want to reign in the military, which had considerable sway under the previous Administration, giving potential for economic recovery which might enhance the position of the moderates. He’s not going to give an inch in Syria. Russia should like all of this, for on the margin they would rather not see a nuclear Iran, their Security Council votes so showing, while they and Iran are on the same side in Syria.

      The problem with a country wide rational analysis is that countries are made of many institutional players. Internal fights can create external irrational outcomes. In this case, ignoring the carnage of Syria, internal fights seem to point to an Obama favored outcome, which I guess we in the West can call rational. Such is my guess.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Vadim

      “If they use them against us, they’re dead. If they give them to some floating terrorist group that uses them against us, they’re still dead, along with lots of their neighbours”

      As if the world will let Israel retaliate, as if the world would retaliate instead of Israel.
      Just like with Syria. We saw how the world united, ignored narrow interests and did the right thing.

      “after decades of talking tough, will be monumentally humiliated. Can the president of the United States allow that? Can the leaders of Europe?”

      Again we have the case of Syria, in which Obama and the Europeans didn’t allow themselves to be humiliated and did the right thing.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Very interesting, Greg. Dunno – seems to me their strongest card is to get and stay w/in range, hold onto that leverage, and bargain down the sanctions from there, while keeping that leverage. Some Israeli sources, BTW, are saying Iran already has a bomb, others are saying it’s weeks away from capability. One thing – if I ever gave the impression of saying Bibi is irrational, then let me correct that. When I say “irrational” in the Iranian context, I mean attacking an enemy and getting your country annihilated. The Iranians aren’t that crazy, nor is Bibi or any other national leader I’m aware of.

      Reply to Comment
      • While I don’t keep up much on these things, I too think I saw an interview on PBS saying a bomb could be basically here, but not delivery system, which could take up to a year (that is, a missile). But that close means shut down is rather cost free medium term. The noises coming from the Iranian President are pretty positive. I could see him shutting it down (or, rather, freezing it) just before completion as an internal power move, saying they wanted nuclear energy all along. I don’t think there will be any hurry to remove sanctions if Iran is nuclear, and I began with the premise that the economy is really hurting, this why the Pres won over hard line rivals. I also have the implicit premise that military incursion into the civilian economy has the reformists quite worried. They would much rather do a Syria (and believe in it) than watch this local incursion grow.

        On crazy leaders: one may make a case that Stalin was so crazy given he sacked his command structure, thinking safe from Hitler. One can call this a miscalculation, or an instance where internal institutional struggle created an inferior global position. I tend to opt for multiple actors, or, at a stretch, one actor embedded in inconsistent competitive worlds, rather than single controlling leader.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Richard

      There are so many things that don’t make sense about this article, but since we’ve all got lives to live, here’s a top three:
      (1) It doesn’t explain why its dangerous or wrong or to demand that Iran not build nuclear weapons. The article itself has only a spider web’s connection to the claim in the title. Well, we get a whiff of Larry morality at the very beginning (its wrong to demand that someone not have something you want or already have), so ok, I guess its wrong to…ask anyone not to build nukes??? Are you serious??? Yes let’s let the whole world have a nuke because the US has them, great morality there. How about the NPT? How about the enforcement of treaties, the highest form of international law? Are you FOR nuclear proliferation Larry? Because, hey, who wouldn’t want one??, let’s all sympathize! The world does not operate, could not survive using Larry morality, precisely because there are such things as nuclear weapons that raise issues more important than fairness. Let’s grow up a little bit shall we?
      (2) “If it were up to me, I would say: If the Iranians want to build nuclear weapons, let them.” Right, because the only danger of Iran having nukes is that they’d nuke Israel…willful denseness here. No consideration of what it means for the ability of Hezbollah, or Syria, or even Iran itself, to attack Israel or US interests. Of course Iran won’t nuke Israel, but a nuclear Iran can make Israel a hell of worse place to live, and less viable as a state. Larry doesn’t care about this though because its not part of his personal reality.
      (3) The containment camp has folded its tent? What on earth are you talking about? Do you think that now the US has decided to allow Iran to have nukes, it won’t try to contain it? Talking tough? You’re not on the same planet as the rest of us it seems.

      Reply to Comment
      • You’re an obnoxious piece of work, Richard.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          At least I write things that make sense, which is a lot more important than not being obnoxious in a discussion about nuclear weapons. Sometimes being obnoxious is what’s required to get people who are stuck thinking the wrong things to change their minds – people who don’t respond to cool, soothing prose, because they’re personally, emotionally invested in certain ideas about the world, and have emotional reasons for saying what they say. But when those ideas are dangerous to people other than themselves, its worth being obnoxious. It takes provocation, creating an emotional response, to get such people to change their minds.

          Reply to Comment
          • But you don’t write things that make sense – your writing is extremely woolly, very hard to figure out. But worse than that, you don’t take a stand. I wasted a lot of time going back and forth with you. You don’t address questions put to you. You don’t even give your name. And on top of all that, you’re obnoxious.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard

            The fact that you’ve already spent so much time responding to me demonstrates that my writing is lucid and that you don’t consider it a waste of your time – you’re obviously not comfortable with how persuasive I’m being. I take stands about the claims you make in articles that I’m commenting on, and I address questions that are about the article. I’ve even answered some questions that weren’t about the article, that were designed to muddle the debate about the article, just to be a good sport. My name is Richard, btw, in case you haven’t noticed, and +972 has my email. Are commenters here obliged to email you their CV’s before the substance of their comments is taken seriously? I should hope not.

            Reply to Comment
          • It took me a long time to figure out how the points you were making connected to what I’d written, and the reason I invested the time, I’m sorry to admit, is because you framed your comments in such an insulting way that, since I didn’t want to trash them, I didn’t want to let them stand, either. That policy is finished. If you want to comment on my channel, go ahead, but if I don’t like the way you express yourself, I’ll trash it.

            Reply to Comment
    12. Aaron Gross

      The “rationality” argument doesn’t convince me. The US and USSR were rational, but they came very close to nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. If in a crisis you think that your enemy might irrationally strike, then given the huge advantage of a first strike, the rational thing might be for you to strike your enemy first.

      I have no idea what to do about Iran. But unfortunately, the “rationality” story isn’t very comforting.

      Reply to Comment
      • During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy ordered the blockade around Cuba to contract to give the Russians more time to decide to avoid a direct encounter (their ships thereby having more time before such encounter). At first, the order was ignored. When Kennedy sent a representative to Navy to find out why, such was informed that retracting the blockade would put navy ships in range of Cuban artillery, and the navy manual forbade that. So a direct order of the President was ignored. Where’s the rationality? (A direct call from the White House forced the blockade to contract.) Countries are not single minds.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          Greg, if your point is that even normally rational political agents don’t always act rationally in a nuclear crisis, then you’re arguing against Larry and supporting my general position, which is “Damn right we should be worried.”

          I remember that some American adviser involved in the Cuban missile crisis said, many years later, that there was about a five percent probability of its leading to a nuclear war. Five percent is a terrifyingly high number.

          On the other hand, the good news is that we’re all going to die sometime anyway, so nuclear war isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

          Reply to Comment
          • When I say Iran is rational, I’m saying it’s not what the typical Israeli/pro-Israeli thinks it is: Waiting eagerly for the moment it has a nuclear bomb to drop on Israel, after which Israel will destroy them and they will all go to heaven for their 72 virgins. (This doesn’t explain why Iranian women suuposedly all want to die; statistically, only a small percentage are going to be lesbians.) But sure, I know that things can go wrong, there can be miscalculations, people can push the button “rationally” because they think the other guy is about to do it. I’m not saying that Iran’s rationality, in this context, is an ironclad protection. I just don’t see how in the long run to stop countries that really want them from getting nukes, and if not nukes then biological weapons that can also kill millions. I certainly don’t see that non-proliferation can be presided over by nuclear-armed countries; they have no moral authority, so at best other countries will obey them temporarily out of fear of reprisal, but sooner or later they will get their weapons, WMD of one sort or another. The Israeli model of bombing as one-sided arms control is not sustainable, and the American/British/French model of saying “we can have them but you can’t” isn’t sustainable either. (I’ve just used up my lifetime quota of the word “sustainable.”)

            Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Witty

      Do you realistically think that Israel will nuke Iran if Iran nukes Israel first, or even in escalating retaliation for some other spiraling out.

      Iran is frankly less likely to nuke Israel as if they do, they will also inevitably do serious damage to friends in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Palestine.

      Israel on the other hand does not regard really any neighbors of Iran as friends, not Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, even Turkey.

      But, I can’t imagine ANYONE undertaking a second strike, so the theory of MAD is then useless, not practicable in fact however much repeated.

      Other deterrents are far far more useful.

      But, like relative to Palestine, good relations is best.

      That is DIFFICULT with Iran. While they have relaxed the talk of US as demon (still in press, but contrasted with smiling direct contact on TV between Rouhani and other officials and US officials.)

      But, they are NOT relaxing their commentary of Israel as demon, unnamable even as democratic Israel (regardless of the insistence of Jewish state).

      The relationship has to change from an unconditional animosity to a conditional acceptance for change in the dominoes of relationships to change.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard, if Iran nukes Israel, Israel will nuke back. Would it nuke first in a spiral of escalation? Obviously, that depends on all sorts of specifics – in principle, Israel doesn’t want to nuke anybody first. But second? Oh yeah – and with my endorsement.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Witty

          I don’t think that ANY civil state with any sense of kindness at all would nuke back.

          Its been researched for a very long time, the reluctance of button pressers at individual sites and at master locations (president and officers) to undertake a return strike.

          I think the MAD doctrine is a useless one.

          I don’t see ANY reason at all for anything beyond tactical (small) nuclear weapons capacity (as if killing even the “limited” 30,000 people target is small).

          Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >if Iran nukes Israel, Israel will nuke back.

          Not really.

          1 – Iran can’t nuke Israel that easily by conventional means – missile or aerial bomb.

          Israel has air defences, meaning that Iran will have to launch multiple nukes and multiple false targets to break through it.

          2 – However, Iran is totally capable to load a nuke on, say, shipping container and send it to Israel. Or transfer nuke to Hamas/Islamicm Jihad/Tanzim/Hibullah.

          In such case, even if there is a nuclear explosion in Ashdod port, there would be no-one to blame for.

          Reply to Comment
        • rick

          In discussing Netanyahu’s antics what is going unspoken is the benefit to Israel’s gov’t. of changing the conversation away from what amounts to on-going ethnic cleansing by means of home demolition and land grabs, followed by settlements. In other words, the more Kabuki Netanyahu generates the less discussion of the forbidden subject: Palestine and Palestinian rights. That is the 800lb gorilla in the room.

          Reply to Comment
    14. TobyR

      “Every major power and would-be major power wants nuclear weapons”

      Yeah, well: No.
      Countries ranging from Germany and Japan (which one would definitely call major powers if that term is to mean anything) to Canada, Sweden and Spain all have the technical ability to build nuclear weapons – since they have the ability to develop, build and operate nuclear power plants, which is actually harder than building nuclear weapons.

      And they are not weaponizing their nuclear capabilities.

      Of course they could become a nuclear weapons power due to the very capabilities I mentioned above. In some cases, on very short notice. (I’d estimate that if Japan, for example, decided it needs a nuclear deterrent, its assembly would be a matter of months, maybe even just weeks.)

      And this is what Iran – which I do believe has no current intention to develop a nuclear arsenal, same as all the countries mentioned above – would be capable of as well if it had a working nuclear industry. If at some point in the future Iran came under an existential threat so great that only a nuclear deterrent could ward it off, it could build one.

      And this, to come to a conclusion, is exactly what Netanyahu wants to prevent. Ultimately, he wants the entire Middle East at Israel’s mercy, if not directly, then through Israel’s faithfully one-sided ally, the US. A country which has even the potential for an effective deterrent against US or Israeli military attack is not part of the plan.

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        I think you are correct on one point. There is a plan, there has been a plan from the start, the zionist manifesto to control “from the Nile to the Euphrates”. We’re talking about a philosophy that transcends governments and geographies. It has its own objectives. It has its own funding. Israel is the puppet of zionism, it is the face and voice and hands and feet of zionism, it was created as the vehicle to implement zionism.

        The next question is why is US so completely one-sided in support of this? Is it to our advantage somehow and we’re running the show, or is it to zionism’s advantage and we are already one of zionism’s conquests? Seeing our US politicians grovel to Israel makes us wonder.

        Reply to Comment
      • rick

        when talking of nuclear deterrent Germany- this just happened – has recourse to those weapons through something called NATO….Japan is rumored to have such weapons ready to use on its very soil!!

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