False Fears About a Nuclear Iran

We've heard this warning before. It's still wrong.


"The stupidest thing I have ever heard." — Meir Dagan, former head of Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, on attacking Iran's nuclear facilities.

Stupid it may be, but it's also the hottest trend since the iPhone. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last year that if Iran proceeds toward acquiring a nuclear arsenal, "we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the same thing.

The Republican presidential candidates (except Ron Paul) strain to outdo each other in bellicose rhetoric. Mitt Romney says, "If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon." Newt Gingrich promises, "Iran is not going to get a nuclear weapon." Rick Santorum is prepared to bomb Iranian nuclear sites.

The United States and Israel are keeping their powder dry, but that could change anytime. A report in The Washington Post said, "Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June."

The prevailing wisdom among policymakers, in short, bears an eerie resemblance to the Iraq consensus of 2002. We and the Israelis allegedly faced an intolerable peril from a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction and a lust for aggression. Fortunately, we were told, it was nothing that a short, sudden military attack wouldn't solve.

But in Iraq, it turned out the solution was anything but quick or easy—and the danger was vastly exaggerated. And in Iran? Ditto.

"The working assumption that it is possible to totally halt the Iranian nuclear project by means of a military attack is incorrect," Dagan recently told The New York Times. "There is no such military capability. It is possible to cause a delay, but even that would only be for a limited period of time."

Another prominent Mossad veteran, Rafi Eitan, said the attack would delay Iran's nuclear program "not even three months."

Americans may be led to assume we will pay no price. But Iran has innumerable options for "asymmetric" retaliation—attacking our ships in the Persian Gulf, sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan or the United States, and ordering its Lebanese Hezbollah ally to rain rockets on Israel. We may find that fighting a war with Iran is like making love to a gorilla: You don't stop when you're done; you stop when the gorilla is done.

Why is everyone so eager to plunge into another war? Because of another false fear: that a nuclear-armed Iran will use its new arsenal to obliterate the Jewish state or bully its neighbors.

This panic requires a total disregard for everything we have learned during the nuclear age. Over the past 60 years, assorted enemies and rivals have acquired nuclear stockpiles: the Soviet Union, China, Pakistan and North Korea. All of them have learned that they are useless as offensive weapons against other nuclear states and their allies.

The reason is simple: Any nation that carries out a nuclear attack assures itself of cataclysmic retaliation. You can't win a nuclear war. You can only lose one.

Alarmists claim the past is irrelevant because the mullahs in Tehran are an entirely different enemy: willing to accept national annihilation for the brief pleasure of erasing Israel. But if the Iranians were bent on mass martyrdom, they could have found a simpler way.

The incineration of Israel could be done with conventional weapons—remember what the U.S. did to Dresden and Tokyo?—which are far easier to acquire in bulk than nukes. For some reason, Iran has passed on this option.

China was equally terrifying back when it was developing nuclear weapons. The dictator Mao Zedong declared, "We are prepared to sacrifice 300 million Chinese for the victory of the world revolution." President Kennedy, however, wisely rejected a preemptive attack.

North Korea provoked intense anxiety when it built the bomb. But in the ensuing years, it has been no more or less intractable or belligerent than before.

Alarmists insist that an Iranian bomb would set off a regional arms race, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey hastening to get their own. But they already face a worrisome neighbor with a nuclear arsenal: Israel. None has seen the need for a comparable deterrent.

The world has seen the rise of one nuclear state after another without the outbreak of nuclear war or nuclear blackmail. Yet this one, we are told, will change the world in ways we cannot tolerate. We've heard that warning before. It's still wrong.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/steve_chapman.



NEXT: Not a Drive By

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  1. There are a couple of things wrong with this article:

    1) The firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden required vast numbers of bombs. Iran couldn’t more cheaply attack those cities: the vast numbers of aircraft don’t exist, and if they did, they’d have no chance getting through Israeli air defenses. The Israeli air force has trounced every other air force it has ever fought and – when I paid attention to that sort of thing – had an outstanding training program that produces some of the best fighter pilots in the world.

    2) What makes Iran unstable is that the state has several factions that are at odd with each other, like Pakistan.

    3) There is no mention of the proxy war between Iran and Pakistan that took place in Afghanistan pre 9/11. If the Iranians were to use a nuke, I expect it would be against Pakistan after the inevitable U.S. defeat.

    4) Some powerful factions within the Iranian government were interested in talks with the U.S. in 2002/2003 and serious talks took place. These unfortunately were scuppered by Bush in one of his usual blunders. I would be thing that there is a decent chance that those talks could be reopened.

    5)The current sanctions against Iran puts the U.S. in violation of the NNPT. At this point I think the Iranian government can legally make the case that the U.S. violations remove their obligation not to make nukes.

    I agree with the main thrust: that the prospect of Iran with a bomb is less scary than North Korea or PAkistan having them. If I were in the Iranian govt, I would want a nuke, as a deterrent to the US.

    1. Tarran, that is some weapons grade stupid. Iran with a nuke is a threat to everyone. This is why no one takes libertarians seriously. You sound like a bunch of Jew hating leftists on Iran.

      1. Kosher John

      2. John, if you’re trolling then lulz, else you need to understand that merely stating an opinion isn’t sufficient for proving it. Your claim is “A nuclear Iran is a threat to everyone”, but don’t say why. This is why no one takes you seriously. This is why you sound like mindless war monger.

        1. It’s not obvious to you why a state run by terrorist theocrats whose theology encourages suicide bombing as a way of getting into Heaven is a threat to everyone if it gets nukes? Then STFU, you brain-dead limp-noodle appeaser boy.

          1. Not at all. Iran gets a nuke – so what? Even if they get half a dozen (which is way outside of their technical capability), what can they do? As soon as one missile is in the air, they face the 20,000 nuclear weapons of the Western allies. Even if we don’t nuke them, we firebomb the entire country. Unrestricted warfare – the world’s most advanced military with the gloves completely off. Tehran would be glass within a matter of hours and Iran would simply cease to exist. This isn’t mutually assured destruction – it’s a pretty single sided exchange.

            And even if the weapon were developed and used, why do you assume it would be teh tuhrists who use it? Do you really think that the Iranians will put the billions of dollars of development in and give weapons to a bunch of uneducated suicide bombers? Seems like a waste of resources, especially knowing the U.S./Israeli response.

            Analysis allows trumps jingoism.

            1. DK – Yes, analysis trumps jingoism. It also trumps Pollyannaism.

              1. Estimates are that they currently have enough LEU to create about half a dozen uranium bombs if they run it through their centrifuges some more for about 3 to 12 months (uncertainty based on the efficiency of their equipment).
              2. The western allies do not have 20,000 nuclear weapons, nor are they likely to use them all. The largest arsenal is 2,200 weapons held by the US. It is also quite possible that both the PRC and Russia will step in to stop a massive nuclear exchange. Israel’s nukes are the only ones unlikely to be held back.
              3. The reason for passing on nukes to terrorists is deniability. Pakistan descends into chaos and it’s unclear whether they have control. A boat in NY harbor blows and takes the bottom half of Manhattan with it, the statue of liberty and parts of Brooklyn and NJ. Who gets the retaliatory strike, Pakistan or Iran?

          2. While their theology encourages suicide bombing, you will take note that the mullahs and terrorist leaders never, ever go out and blow themselves up. They encourage their underlings to do so, while they remain safe and sound. The leaders are not suicidal, so you can be damned sure they will not risk all-out nuclear war wherein Israel or the US would flatten Tehran.

        2. Im guessing that was a spoof.

      3. @John: And you sound like a narrow-minded Israel-firster who conflates US and Israeli interests, and who defends that conflation by lobbing antisemite at anyone critical of your Likudnik wishes.

        Israel is a racist, apartheid regime which destabilizes the Middle East and our uncritical support for them is a large reason why much of the world despises us as a hypocritical, dishonest diplomatic broker.

        AIPAC has worked to ensure that there’s been no serious diplomatic effort on the part of the US and has been successful because of Israel-firsters and chicken hawk neocons of all stripes.

        Israeli aggression and terrorism are not entitled to automatic and uncritical support from the United States.

        Dissembling intellectual hacks like yourself can throw the antisemite card all you like – you remain the warmongering, ethnocentric hypocrites whose support for Israel, right or wrong, amounts to a callous disregard for human life.

        1. Israel is racist in comparison to whom? Yes, they are not pure as the driven snow. Their neighbors, by and large, are as bad or worse. The PA has a “jew free” policy which tremendously complicates their quest for a homeland. If they were willing to accept a jewish minority (as Israel accepts a muslim one), they’d have already had a state because then the settlements would no longer be a barrier to peace.

      4. Now you are coming across as stupid, or at least, well indoctrinated.

    2. Steve Chapman

      1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically?the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president.

      Why should anyone trust you on anything, Dave? You didn’t know jack shit about this Stalinist when you voted for him, and you don’t know jack shit about the Middle East either. Above all, you are a shitty judge of anyone’s character or intention if you couldn’t see what was obvious to those of us on the right from the moment we first saw this smug Stalinist shitbag and all his megalomaniacal race-baiting and posturing.

      Now you can’t see how hellbent Iran is on building and using nukes. You’ve always been every dictator and terrorist’s lapdog, Chapman; together, you and the aPauling moRon are enough to discredit the whole “anti-war” movement for the pants-wetting leftard appeasers and cowards you truly are.

      You’re just as blind and retarded as that asshole Pat Buchanan, who tries to assure us Hitler would totally not have started World War II if those mean old Poles (and Zionazis! don’t forget the Zionazis!) hadn’t been so mean to him when he asked them to share their country with him. Yeah, and you’ll be telling us next that Iran is just the poor widdle victim of us Western persecutors and they totally aren’t run by theocrats hell-bent on exterminating Jews and then anyone else they decide they don’t like from the face of the earth. Say hi to Leni Reifenstahl, Joe Goebbels, Walter Duranty, and Molly Ivins when you meet them down where you’re going, Steve Chapman!

      1. This is some epic lulz.

        1. Yeah, nearly as funny as the past voting record of Reason contributors.

    3. Yeah, a “deterrent” to the US, as in a way to “deter” us from living. Fuck you, you anti-American fuckbag. If we’re so awful and Iran is so nice, why aren’t you over there posting this bullshit from Iran? Oh yeah: because if you went over there, first they’d rape your faggot ass, and then they’d hang you for being a rape victim because obviously you were asking for it; not to mention those theocrats have shut down the internet so you couldn’t post from there anyway.

      You don’t know shit about Iran, traitor, so STFU!

      1. Unleash your impotent anger. Next, join the Armed Forces so you can actually kill.. GOOOD….GOOOOOODD…..

      2. Here’s an idea, fuckface. How about we don’t go over there in the first place? No one said Iran is a nice place where they’d like to live. They just said we should maybe stay the fuck out of the country and not waste another trillion dollars and thousands of American (probably hundreds of thousands of non-American) lives on an endeavor that is most likely to fail on every imaginable level.

        But I forgot – you fucking neo-cons love the idea of sending Americans (and especially non-Americans) to their deaths. Fuck you!

        1. Actually, Iran has sent hit squads to other countries, including the US in the past. Most recently, they decided that it was OK to try to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US on our soil. The ‘stay at home’ mullah regime is a myth.

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  3. Pakistan got nukes before 9/11, and they are a US ally. Things are different now. We can’t let any of the ragheads get a nuke.

      1. What race are muslims? I’m sure the muslims would be quite interested to hear about that.

  4. The Soviets and Norks weren’t a bunch of durka durka jihad idiots, either. We could be reasonably certain they wouldn’t start a war that would destroy them, too. The Iranians are crazy enough not to care about that, which is why they are a different threat.

    1. what is the basis for writing that the iranians (presumably the mullahs) dont care if they’re destroyed?

      1. How about that when they were fighting Iraq they would send their children out into the mine fields to specifically fine them by stepping on them. If they don’t care about your own kids who do they care about.

        1. But the people that are sent to their death aren’t the deciders.

          It seems obvious that those that sent others to their death are quite interested in their own survival, otherwise they would put their own asses out on the line.

          That’s why they are not, and will not, be a nuclear threat.
          The mullahs are not suicidal.

    2. Please explain in simple words why you think the Iranians want to commit suicide. The very fact that they stage elaborate elections is all the proof I need that they care about their public relations image.

      If they were to use their nuclear weapons on *anybody*, they be the pariahs of the world, with probably North Korea being the only nation to applaud them. Russia and China would no longer block any action by anyone, UN or Israel or the US.

      To pretend otherwise is to act as if nuclear weapons are a laugh, that their use is a laugh, that they are so insignificant that no one cares if they are used. You can’t have it both ways — either they are terrible, or they are harmless.

      Or you can pretend that the Iranians are suicidal as a nation, which is just as loony as pretending that nuclear weapons are harmless.

      1. If they were to use their nuclear weapons on *anybody*, they be the pariahs of the world, with probably North Korea being the only nation to applaud them. Russia and China would no longer block any action by anyone, UN or Israel or the US.

        Again, see my post concerning the Shanghai Treaty Organization.

        Or you can pretend that the Iranians are suicidal as a nation, which is just as loony as pretending that nuclear weapons are harmless.

        Twelver Islam isn’t loony/suicidal? For fuck’s sake, man! They have a yearly holiday where they cut themselves (including children) raw and bloody. They are the Muslim analog of apocalyptic “Left Behind” Evangelicals the difference being is that they are fully in control of their nation’s government.

        1. What percentage of Shia are nutjob cutters? What percentage of Iran’s ruling class are?

          1. More importantly, why does ritual cutting equate to dreams of nuking Israel?

          2. What percentage of Shia are nutjob cutters?

            85 percent.

            What percentage of Iran’s ruling class are?

            By law, 100 percent.

            More importantly, why does ritual cutting equate to dreams of nuking Israel?

            Read up on how they believe the 12th Iman, the Madhi (i.e. the Muslim messiah), will return to Earth. [Spoiler Alert]
            Like a bizzaro version of the Book of Revelation, it also involves a war in Israel, but on the “other side” so to speak.

            1. I asked how many were nutjob cutters, not how many were Twelvers.

              Does Iran’s ruling class ritually cut themselves for anything other than show?

              1. Celebrating Ashura is one of the defining things of Twelver Islam. If you’re in good health, you’re expected to participate in Tatbir.

                1. We take most of our male children and ritually cut off the tips of their penises. What’s your point?

                2. “As suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) have been prohibited by Shi’a marjas like Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran….”

                  From that article you linked. Next time, you might try reading it.

                  1. “As suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) have been prohibited by Shi’a marjas like Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran….”

                    From that article you linked. Next time, you might try reading it.

                    Oh, trust me I have read it. However, I figured that people participating in a discussion about Iran would have some knowledge of, you know, Iran. For your information, Khamenei is also the same guy who issued a fatwa against the production of nuclear weapons by Islamic countries. It doesn’t seem as if his countrymen are listening to him, does it? Indeed, Khamenei is not well-regarded among the Iranian elite.

                    Furthermore, it would take some balls to deny that Tatbir is not being practiced in modern-day Iran, there is tons of photographic evidence that it is. Just as “child prostitution” is “illegal” in Cambodia doesn’t seem to stop it there, Tatbir is alive and well in the Persian world.

                    1. So which is it? Are they following his orders into suicide, or against it?

                      You can’t have it both ways.

              2. Does Iran’s ruling class ritually cut themselves for anything other than show?

                As I am not a telepath, I cannot answer that. However, I tend to take people at their word (and actions speak louder than words, yes?) until given reason not to do so.

              3. By the way, as batshit insane as Twelvers are, I don’t believe we need to go into Iran with guns blazing. The best thing to do is not to add and fuel to the fire.

            2. Heroic Mullato>Steve Chapman

              We’ve heard this warningshit before. It’s still wrong.
              -Every article by Chapman on Iran.

      2. Stupid… you don’t need the nation to be suicidal; all you need is for the guy in charge to be willing to risk the lives of the other people in the country. Somehow I don’t put that past Ahmedinejad….

        1. If only dear Mahmoud was in charge in any meaningful way…

          1. He has more influence than you think, and Khamenei isn’t exactly the biggest Jew-lover, America-lover, and peace-lover either…

            1. He has to be either a Jew-lover, America-lover and peace-lover OR a Jew-destroyer, America-destroyer and war-crazy motherfucker?

              Ahmadinejad’s job is to be a shrieking harpy that makes people like you wet their beds.

              1. “Jew-Destroyer” sounds like some kind of dildo.

                1. It is.

                  1. ::::::::::::::::>

                    1. ::::::::::::::

                2. Tell me more

        2. Mahmoud seems to be venal and cutthroat but towards the end of personal power, not mass suicide.

      3. Don’t even bother. John can’t get past his hatred of brown people long enough to reason through these issues.

    3. Spoof, I know it.

  5. Oh great – the Name-Stealing Griefer troll didn’t check out at the end of the weekend. We get to deal with its awesomeness the entire week! Thanks reason staff!

    1. You give it power by acknowledging it.

      1. I would prefer it not be permitted to steal others’ names in an attempt to make them look bad.

        In other words, banhammer.

        But you’re right, I shan’t acknowledge it any longer.

        1. What do you mean an attempt to make them look bad? Have you not read any of the recent Iran threads? Those are pretty much real arguments that the real John makes.

          I wouldn’t say that it’s stealing the name, either, since the real John has an e-mail address. Btw, where is all this complaining about “stealing” names when someone is spoofing MNG, Tony, Max or any of the other left leaning commentators? Selective outrage anyone?

          1. If you look at the weekend comments, it’s the Libertarians STEALING White Indian’s name.

            He even stated he won’t use it anymore because of Libertarian THIEVERY.

            Libertarian “principles” are merely debate conveniences to grief their political opponents.

            Libertarian motivation is jealously because they never get elected, and thus feel somehow “persecuted,” because the free market of ideas rejects their pure bullshit.

            1. Only someone that believes in property can have anything stolen, which means nothing can be stolen from you.

              1. Would steal candy from a baby.

                Because a baby doesn’t have 4 years of legal training on property theory.

                What a bunch of numbnuts!

                Now you know why people reject your bullshit ideology in the free market of ideas every election. They know you’re justifying TAKING MORE STUFF, no matter how you get it.

                KOCHsuckin’ useful idiots for the 1%, even if it hurts them too.

                1. I can TAKE what you got if you don’t hold the same property theory as I do.


                  Must have got such a convenient property theory from their batshitcrazy Dear Leader:

                  “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land … ANY WHITE PERSON who brought the element of civilization had THE RIGHT TO TAKE over this continent.” ~Ayn Rand, US Military Academy at West Point, March 6, 1974

                  Libertardism = justifying the RIGHT TO TAKE.

                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.
                  MORE STUFF FOR ME.

                  1. Right Wing Marxists

                    1. and supporter of jackboot State EcoKops.

                    2. Who dares not put the blame on whom it REALLY belongs.

                    3. Supporter of State Surveillance of the Internet.

                    4. WI does not support the agricultural city-STATE.

                      Agenda 21, etal, are just city-Statist schemes to keep the city-State functioning in the face of inevitable environmental collapse.

                    5. and enemy of NOT Tribe.

                    6. Anti-State “schemes” while hiding an Ultra-Big-State agenda. What’s your neighbor doing, WI?

                  2. Ayn Rand hated libertarians btw.objectivism and libertarianism are not the same philosophy. Libertarianism has a rich intellectual tradition. Objectivism is just Ayn Rand’s personality cult.

    2. Are all 3 John comments someone spoofing him? I almost replied to the one that replied to tarran but then I saw the next two and made a guess as to what was happening.

      1. They’re all spoofs, but they’re not terribly far off.

        1. I disagree. John makes cogent arguments. Even when he’s wrong, he will show some rationale rather than merely arguing by assertion.

          1. I don’t disagree with you there. I guess I really mean they’re a sort of argumentum ad absurdum version of John.

    3. Weird how “Blue Moon” isn’t concerned when his fellow Libertards steal White Indian’s name, and then “Blue Moon” tries to falsely blame WI when other of his fellow Libetards steal John’s name. What a KOCHsuckin’ whore.

      Now you know why people reject your bullshit ideology in the free market of ideas every election. They know you’re being mendacious.

      1. Things happen, like signatures going on marriage vows and investment newsletters that we didn’t really don’t want some people to think we meant to sign.

  6. You have to admit dude that makes a lot of sense. WOw.


    1. Hey Tommy, if you’re feeling lonely you should scroll up a bit higher and meet Kate. You two have a lot in common

  7. The thing about taking this position is that you’re always right until you’re wrong. And it only takes 1 wrong to have dire consequences. Anyone not fearful about North Korea and Iran having nuclear capabilities needs to have their head examined. You’d be fearful if you encountered somebody emerging from the shadows in a dark alley with a gun in his hands. There’s no reason we should be any less prudent at the national level. That doesn’t mean we need to get into another ground war and nation building project in the middle east, but it is beyond stupidity to pretend that a nuclear armed Iran poses no threat to global security.

    1. Yeah, but North Korea does have nukes. So does Pakistan, who hid Bin Laden from us.

      Can you honestly say Iran is any worse than Pakistan or North Korea?

      1. North Korea having nuclear weapons is actually almost more frightening than Pakistan. It may not justify a war, but it’s beyond ridiculous to pretend that rogue authoritarian regimes having access to weapons that can wipe out entire cities in a single incident isn’t threatening. Not being a war monger is one thing, being Neville Chamberlain is another.

        1. I meant more frightening than Iran, not Pakistan. Typo

          1. It may not justify a war, but it’s beyond ridiculous to pretend that rogue authoritarian regimes having access to weapons that can wipe out entire cities in a single incident isn’t threatening.

            There’s an old saying that goes, “We’re always fighting the last war.” It usually means that after Vietnam, the military geared itself to fighting in a jungle somewhere, after WWII, it was about air superiority, …

            I think something like that happens in the public’s heads, too. Everybody looks at our foreign policy now as if it’s all about avoiding another Iraq. There are a few general lessons to learn from all wars, like that troop deployments and occupations should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, that Reverse Domino Theory is a farce, …

            But other lessons learned from Iraq are applicable to Iran only insofar as they’re applicable to Iran. And applying the lesson of how NOT to justify a war in Iraq based on non-existent terrorism ties and a non-existent WMD program–is not applicable to Iran.

            It just isn’t.

            1. You’ll get no argument from me. That’s basically what I was trying to articulate. It’s prudent not to be gung-ho for a war in Iran, but not to pretend that no threat would exist from a nuclear armed Iran, or that none exists from nuclear armed North Korea or Pakistan.

            2. Point;

              We are always fighting the last war because the last war is the last data that we really have. Everything else is speculation, and most of that is wildly off base. The history of military idiocy is full of uniformed clown who went off the deep end planning the ‘next’ war, based on some new wrinkle that never panned out. We only hear about the blunders that depended on looking at the last war, because they are, for the most part, the only blunders that get to the operational stage.

              For every General Billy Mitchell who was right there are probably a dozen crackpots who died in well deserved obscurity.

            3. You just put the finger on what was bugging me about this article. Ultimately, Chapman might be right about Iran – but his rationale sucks.

        2. The thing about North korea having nukes is that there are two possibilities;

          1) North Korea, despite appearances, is a puppet state of Communist China, in which case their having nukes does not materially alter the situation.

          2) North Korea is, in fact, separate from China, in which case North Korea with nukes is the biggest threat to China since Imperial Japan disappeared with two bangs. But if this case is the real one, that’s China’s problem, and we probably don’t want to get involved.

          1. By and large I agree though I would add an addendum to point 1). That would be if they are a puppet state how much control does China really exert?

            Or they a puppet state that is marginally under Chinese control. i.e the north korean leadership is simply buying their time. Or are they completely beholden to Chineses support? Given the export data of North Korea I’d say it was the latter.

            1. If North Korea is only marginally under China’s thumb, then the moment they kick over the traces they go from case 1 to case 2…and we can still leave China to sort out the odds and sods.

    2. The difference between “alone in a dark alley confronted by shadowy figure” and “national geopolitics” is so wide as to make your analogy completely worthless.

      1. Yeah, but I think North Korea has a shiv, so….be careful

        1. Ready the Rape Whistle!!!

    3. Ok. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you’re pretty opposed to government intervention in climate change. Your argument could be used to justify massive governmental economic interventions in order to avert a potential ecological disaster.

      Just saying…

    4. So why didn’t the U.S. invade North Korea or destroy its nuclear development capability?

      Answer: Because it was not deemed a real threat to U.S. interests.

  8. The other countries in the middle east don’t need to worry about Israel attacking them (with nukes or anything). If you leave Israel alone, they’ll leave you alone.

    While on the other hand, they do have to worry about Iran possibly starting a war.

    1. Why would Iran start a nuclear war which would make them an instant pariah and guarantee that Russia and China would no longer protect them in the UN? Are you saying the entire nation is suicidal? They’ve had plenty of chances to commit suicide already and haven’t done so. Very good with the tantrums they are, knowing exactly when to calm down and when to kick it into high gear again.

      I’d really like to see a real explanation of why Iran is assumed to be on suicide watch.

      1. I’d really like to see a real explanation of why Iran is assumed to be on suicide watch.

        It’s simple, really: 72 virgins.

        1. 21+ million people are going to share the same 72 virgins? I don’t think anyone will like that.

          1. BLASPHEMY!

      2. You assume that nuclear weapons are for use in a war as opposed to a means of deterring any attacks in a conventional war- or retaliation for a conventional attack by proxies.

      3. I don’t think Iran is suicidal. I do think their culture is barbaric and their leadership is pathologically stupid. Which is worse, because it means they might actually think they can win.

        Which is also what makes an Iranian nuclear arsenal different from an Israeli nuclear arsenal. Everybody in the Middle East loves to hate on Israel, but they know that Israel is neither stupid nor insane. They know the hated Jews really aren’t inclined to take over the Middle East. The Persians? Not so sure about them.

  9. I don’t think a state sponsor of terror with a WMD program is immediately comparable to a non-state sponsor of terrorism without a WMD program.

    And since the comparison breaks down from the get go, it’s hard to say that since we didn’t really need to worry about the apples, there’s really no need to worry about the oranges.

    Whether a sudden attack would fix everything is, of course, another question entirely.

    1. I agree entirely.

  10. Alarmists insist that an Iranian bomb would set off a regional arms race, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey hastening to get their own. But they already face a worrisome neighbor with a nuclear arsenal: Israel. None has seen the need for a comparable deterrent.

    I disagree with this argument. Until very recently, Turkey was a strategic ally of Israel and Egypt had a peace treaty with Israel. Furthermore, the Saudis have always conducted their anti-Zionist propaganda with a wink and nudge, i.e. just to keep the Salafi rubes happy.

    Even now, all three countries know that things would have to change drastically for Israel to ever consider a first strike with its nuclear arsenal. On the other hand, they have no such history with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a government that has been hostile to all three of these countries since its inception. Just do some research into recent Saudi orders with companies like BAE Systems to get a sense of the fear they have concerning Iran’s belligerent rhetoric.

    1. Until very recently, Turkey was a strategic ally of Israel and Egypt had a peace treaty with Israel.

      And the increasing regional isolation of the announced target of Iran’s nukes doesn’t give you pause?

      1. To be frank, Israel’s alienation of both Turkey and Egypt is its own damn fault. Israel went out of its way to humiliate the Turkish ambassador on many occasions. Likewise, her cross-border raids on Hamas in the Sinai which killed Egyptian soldiers did her no good.

  11. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the U.S. wants to strike Iran before its inevitable ascension into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; after which, it will be untouchable (unless one is interested in starting World War III.)

    1. (unless one is interested in starting World War III.)

      Starting WWIII is exactly what all this is about. And “all this” includes intervention in Syria.

      1. I wouldn’t put starting WWIII past Keynesian nor Kenyans.

        1. It’s all money, no matter the theory.

  12. Incidentally, if anybody does want to talk about avoiding another Iraq, it might be more on point to talk about what’s going on in Syria.

    The Arab League inserted itself more forcefully into the Syria conflict, calling on the United Nations to help it create a peacekeeping force….The resolution by the pan-Arab body, which formally ended its largely unsuccessful monitoring mission in Syria on Sunday, shifts the onus for resolving the increasingly militarized conflict back to the U.N. Security Council.

    —-Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2012


    I oppose sending US troops into Syria, and that goes regardless of whether they’re wearing blue helmets.

  13. I oppose sending US troops into Syria, and that goes regardless of whether they’re wearing blue helmets.

    But why do you hate America?

    1. Haters gonna hate, anon, haters gonna hate…

  14. I see no evidence in this article or any other source which says that Iran is building a nuclear weapon or has even made the decision to build a nuclear weapon.

  15. CAPTION!!!

    “Only YOU can prevent a nuclear Iran, my main man.”

  16. Ain’t city-Statism wonderful?

    1. Yes!

    2. Fuck yeah.

    3. Makes us lots of money! Hurrah!

  17. Only someone that believes in property can have anything stolen, which means nothing can be stolen from you.

    Libertards would steal candy from a baby.

    1. Libertard Priestcraftery has justified it.

      Steal it all, and let God ME sort it out!

      Cuz, you know, your property theory was inadequate to mine. That justifies it.


      It’s a virtue.

      1. …is all Libertards have to compensate for lack of human relationships.

        1. Uh huh. And you’ve spent the past few hours posting dozens of comments on a libertarian red meat blog.

  18. Someone’s butt appears to hurt this morning 🙁 Two sad faces for you, butthurt one 🙁

  19. The excuses to attack Iran are lame, lots of people who want war with Iran simply want war for wars sake, thats all there is to it.

  20. It seems this man’s entire argument is, since it hasn’t happened, it can’t happen.

    1. Seems the bedwetters’ argument is “since it statistically could happen, it will, thus WARBONER!”.

      1. Timon19, I am curious and love watching liberals attempt rational thought. Are you suggesting my summation of the argument is logically flawed? You went off topic and addressed something I did not state.

        1. I’m surprised to learn that I am a liberal.

          My comment was in reply to you, showing how the argument you made can very easily be turned around. Both are, strictly speaking, logical fallacies (I did not RTFA, so I can’t really take your characterization of Chapman’s argument at face value). If Chapman said it precisely that way, he’s engaging in a logical fallacy. For some reason, I doubt that his arguments are that simple. It would be a mighty short article if so.

        2. Well space aliens from Procyon haven’t invaded… but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen!

          Bewdetters think their dumbshit hypothetical situations merit serious consideration.

          It has a lot in common with the ignorant, superstitious, bible-thumping train of thought.

      2. It’s actually part of the job description on the military side to ignore intentions and only focus on capabilities (ie be a bedwetter). That’s because capabilities take time to build but intentions can change at the drop of a hat.

  21. It seems to me we just keep poking the hornets nest that is Iran. I’m not saying if we send them milk and cookies all will be okay, but we just keep poking it harder and harder and now that their good and pissed off, we are offended that they might want to start stinging.

    1. The government is creating a hornets nest in their populace because they realize the only way for them to stay in power is to create common enemies.
      But it doesn’t matter so much that we’re the bogeyman – in the end the Muslims of the ME will use the nukes on each other. So the only question is whether we want to protect the Sunnis of the ME.

  22. Only one country has attacked “targets” in a half dozen countries in the last decade.

    Only one country has ever actually used nukes on another.

    Only one country devotes more resources to military spending than the next ~20 combined.

    And it isn’t Iran.

  23. Only one country has attacked “targets” in a half dozen countries in the last decade.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure Iran has attacked targets in at least half a dozen countries in the last decade, if you count “deniable” attacks by “rogue” elements and proxies.

  24. make a list of all the war drum beaters; when a stupid war starts, they can go in first.
    bunch of fucking assholes, if you ask me.
    I can’t believe we’re hearing this shit again, already.

    1. And when it comes here,people like you will be the first to cower and cry-Save me,Save me

  25. North Korea is hermit state under the aegis of China, who does business with Korea, Japan, and many western nations. Outside of random missile exercises gone awry, NK is not a threat. They have an interest in not nuking random nations.

    The middle east is a volatile place, and what small chances of a nuclear attack is likely to develop there. Nukes (theoretically) can be miniaturized for the convenience of state sponsored terrorism. It’s a little naive to say “we have nothing to fear from Iran” based on past precedents that are apples and oranges, or that the only rational solution to stopping a nuclear Iran is an all out war.

    1. In 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong, killing 4 and wounding 19. In 2011 North Korea sank a South Korean navy ship, death toll 46.

      North Korea is not a threat? Tell it to the graves of those recently killed by it.

  26. Wow, I have never seen so many logical fallacies thrown about before… Then again, there seems to be a fair number of non- libertarians on board. In any event this is my insight on the matter.
    I had taught for 3 years in Dubai. In that time, I have taught numerous Iranian students. It was suggested by almost all of them the issue with them is the lack of respect Iran gets from the rest of the world. There is also a perception that the US acts like an international bully. Iran is an ancient culture that dates back to Cyrus the Great. They obviously consider themselves as important especially regionally. It may be this lack of recognition of Iran’s primacy in the region that is the real driving force behind Iran’s ambitions. It is an interesting alternative to the normal rhetoric concerning Iran’s ambitions. It is a perspective I would not be privy to if I have not had the teaching experience in Dubai.

    1. How would they be able to tell we respected them? How would we recognize their regional primacy? How are nukes supposed to help this?

    2. Iran regularly violates world norms. In fact its regime stability depends on keeping itself isolated, which it does by stoning a rape victim or publicly hanging a homosexual whenever they perceive that they need to launch a new crisis. They regularly persecute their dual US/Iranian nationals. Currently we’ve got a US marine who was visiting family on death row on a bogus espionage trial.

      The regime provokes the world and when the world responds, the regime uses the response to distract its population from regime failures to focus on how Iran is not respected in the world.

      This is a very sad and old game. It’s pretty effective though.

  27. Please tell me I’m not alone when I say I could REALLY do without the visual about the gorilla.

  28. There’s a shocking amount of stupid in these comments from both sides. Though I almost always agree with RP, on this issue he is wrong. Iran has been at war with us for decades, we just haven’t figured it out yet. 241 of our Marines were murdered by Iran in 1983(not to mention the mass kidnapping) and they never received a comeuppance. So…it’s more than reasonable that we not allow them to have a nuke. This article is pretty much entirely folderol.
    a. Iran doesn’t have the planes or bombs to destroy Israel, using conventional weapons.
    b. North Korea isn’t run by apocalyptic religious nutjobs(nutjobs, yes, but not religious ones).
    c. Israels neighbors understand that Israel will not preemptively nuke them(there is no such assurance with a nuclear Iran).
    d. I’m sure, judging from this article, that Steve will agree that being raped by a gorilla is not a big deal, since they only have a two inch penis.

  29. How many of your sailors were murdered by the Jews in 1968?
    Nuke Israel. Get it over with, already.

  30. There is a persuasive strand of opinion that fear of a potential Iranian nuclear program is, in reality, a smokescreen. The real worry is that Iran now has accurate long-distance missile capabilities which threaten Israeli hegemony in the region. It is the fear that Iran could (theoretically) target Israel’s own nuclear and chemical weapon research sites with accurate conventional warheads that’s keeping the Jewish State’s bosses awake at night. Israel’s once full-spectrum dominance is now it’s Achilles heel. This is a tragic, although entirely foreseeable predicament. It’s time to put an end to the criminal insanity of nuclear weapons – and the myth of nuclear power. We didn’t really need Fukushima to tell us that, did we?

    1. You do realize that Israel has anti-missile capabilities, right? They’re both imported from the US as well as home grown variants. It’s unlikely that Israel’s got much to worry about from the few medium range missiles Iran has at present.

  31. “Alarmists insist that an Iranian bomb would set off a regional arms race, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey hastening to get their own. But they already face a worrisome neighbor with a nuclear arsenal: Israel. None has seen the need for a comparable deterrent.”

    This isn’t comparable because neither of those three states view Israel as a threat to regional hegemony that Iran is viewed with.

    Both Pakistan and India likely realized neither government would preemptively use nuclear weapons on the other, but if one had a nuclear weapon, the other felt compelled to have one too.

    1. Well no, sorry Chairman Mao was pretty crazy and that quote speaks for itself.

      Countries realize that they have return addresses, that’s why they don’t use these bombs. Israel has sudden strike capability and they will be fine.

  32. We can,t live with assumptions and weap. If you can,t speak truth you are also traitor as our prophet said”help traitor and victim, then the friends ask to help a victim we do understand but how we can help traitor,he if you stop him from doing it. This is the truth rest is lies.As Koran says, if you kill uninnocent person is as if you have killed whole humanity and if you safe one person to be killed illegally is as if you have saved whole humanity.
    I hate those who talk only for wars.

  33. Does no one yet realize that the threat is not in Iran using a nuclear weapon itself,but the fact that it will surely make them readily available to its surrogates like Hezbolla,Hamas,the Taliban etc who cannot really be connected to any one country or government and hence there would be no clear enemy to retaliate against.Iran has always acted through surrogates and this would be no different.Israel would still be attacked and if at all possible so would we and we could never retaliate against the true enemy because we could never justify it.

  34. Rothschild’s want Iran banking system and war with Iran. – http://americanfreepress.net/?p=2743

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