Iran

Let's Skip a War With Iran

Lesson for foreign leaders who are in the doghouse with the U.S. government: Get a nuke.

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The best way to keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb is for the Obama administration and its nuclear client Israel to stop threatening the Islamic Republic.

Look at recent history. In 2003 Iraq's government had no nuclear weapons (or other WMD). The U.S. government invaded, and before long Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was hanging from a rope. In 2011 Libya's government had no nuclear weapons. The U.S. government led NATO on a bombing campaign to help a group of rebels, and before long Libyan Col. Muammar Qaddafi lay dead on a roadside. Today Syria has no nuclear weapons. The U.S. government and NATO are currently aiding rebels seeking to overthrow (and likely kill) President Bashar al-Assad.

On the other hand, North Korea has nuclear weapons, and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un appears safe from any regime change sponsored by the U.S. government and NATO.

Lesson for foreign leaders who are in the doghouse with the U.S. government: Get a nuke.

Therefore it follows that not threatening a foreign regime is a good way to keep it from following the yellowcake road. And it sure beats threatening war, which all too easily can become actual war.

Iran is not building a bomb. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies have said so repeatedly. The Islamic Republic, unlike Israel, is a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is thus subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, the Islamic regime long ago issued a fatwa, invoked many times since, condemning WMD as immoral.

Furthermore, a nuke would be useless as an offensive weapon for Iran. (Iran has not attacked another nation in hundreds of years, but it was attacked by U.S.-backed Iraq in 1980.) Israel has an arsenal of at least 200 nuclear warheads, some mounted on submarines for a second-strike capability. The U.S. government has thousands. Say what you want about the Iranian leadership, but it is not suicidal.

Thus, the only value for Iran in having a nuclear weapon would be in deterring an attack. Stop threatening an attack, and that value vanishes.

Why then do President Obama and Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refuse to take war against the Iranian people off the table? The Israeli government wants to prevent any change that would limit its freedom of action in the region — which has included repeated mass violence against the Palestinians and the Lebanese — and the U.S. government, largely for domestic political reasons, backs Israel to the hilt. President Obama and Vice-President Biden are only the latest American politicians to declare that "no daylight" exists between the United States and Israel — despite the absurdity of that claim.

In fact, the American people and the Israeli government have entirely different interests with respect to Iran. Americans have no interest whatever in war with Iran. Countless noncombatants, not to mention U.S. military personnel, would be killed or maimed, and economic well-being would be shaken by the disruption of oil production and trade. This wouldn't be good for the people of Israel either, although their hawkish ruling elite and its boosters in America, including in Congress, apparently think otherwise.

It's more and more obvious that this issue isn't really about nuclear weapons at all. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is trying to reassure the West and Israel about its civilian nuclear program. (This is not the first time.) His foreign minister is meeting with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) in order to strike an agreement that would include lifting the economic sanctions — a form of warfare under international law — which deprive innocent Iranians of food and medicine. Progress in the talks had been reported, but France, with Israeli backing, reportedly threw up roadblocks, among other reasons, due to a conflict of interest, namely, its lucrative military ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia (the U.S.-allied Sunni kingdom that is a rival of Shiite Iran).

But perhaps more important, the Obama administration made an interim agreement unacceptable to Iran by refusing to recognize its prerogative under the NPT to enrich uranium.

Despite early signs of progress in the negotiations, Netanyahu and his biggest supporters in Congress want even more sanctions, as they talk down the potential for a peaceful settlement. One gets the feeling that they will never take yes for an answer to the question of nuclear weapons; they want war and regime change, no matter what the Iranian government does.

The warmongers must be thwarted. Peace is the priority.

This column was originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. Of course, the only sensible option for Iran is to acquire nuclear capability and fast. Let the US and Israel know that there will be a price to be paid if they push too hard with their mass murdering imperialistic designs.

    1. JOOOOOOOSSSSSSSS

    2. “the only sensible option for Iran is to acquire nuclear capability and fast”

      Seems like an odd prescription. For the first time in many years, Iran and US are facing each other at the negotiating table. Why would Iran jeopardize that?

      North Korea followed your advice and it doesn’t seem to have furthered their position any or changed the underlying dynamics. Commenters here seem to over value the possession of nuclear arms. I suspect that those in power aren’t really concerned with Iranian nuclear plans. It’s pretext, just like the WMD charges that led to the invasion of Iraq. Besides, if Iran wanted to destroy Israel or any other close nation, they have the capacity today with conventional arms. During the last confrontation with Gaza, militias sent a few homemade rockets into Israeli cities, sending thousands of civilians into shelters. Iran is large enough that it could cripple Israel and scatter Jewish refugees to any country that will have them.

      1. The prescription follows from the propensity of the democracies, particularly the United States, to bully and make war against those they deem weak.

        North Korea has not suffered the same fate as that of Iraq or Libya. Put another way, there has been no regime change.

        1. “to bully and make war against those they deem weak”

          You have a point, but I suspect that the US doesn’t deem Iran or the regime to be weak, and never has. Acceptance of this has led the parties to the negotiating table. Let’s hope something good will come of it.

          1. Yes, let’s hope something good will come of it.

  2. I hope, as with the Syria thing in recent months, Americans are perceiving that only a very narrow set of parties could enjoy any benefit from war on Iran, and only at our expense.

  3. But Iran is not building a bomb.

    And Sheldon Richman is totally not a mendacious hack. Are we gonna see any reality-based articles on Iran in Reason?

    1. How would you describe the reality of the situation? Your comments on the subject are pretty content free. Do you know something that US and Israeli intelligence don’t? Do you really think that a regime that has held on to power for over 30 years is going to guarantee its own complete destruction by nuking Israel?

      1. The reality is that we’re going to continue shouting belligerent slogans, using half-baked excuses that the Iranian leadership is going to guarantee its own destruction to achieve an ideological goal.

      2. The reality is that Iran has an advanced nuclear program, a long history of terrorism, and is led by mystics of varying degrees of sanity.

        Iran is already a mortal threat. With a nuke there’d be no hope of retaliating. Israel must bomb them now.

        1. Iran is already a mortal threat.

          Not to the U.S. it isn’t. It barely rises to the level of “Irritation”.

          With a nuke there’d be no hope of retaliating.

          Except for that little thing called “nuking them back”. And since the Israelis’ have the world’s least secret collection of illegal nukes, the Iranian leadership knows that Iran will be nuked back if it shoots off even one nuke.

          Iran has an advanced nuclear program, a long history of terrorism, and is led by mystics of varying degrees of sanity.

          Which could also describe the United States.

          1. Not to the U.S. it isn’t. It barely rises to the level of “Irritation”.

            I was talking about Israel but your words would probably sound odd to the hundreds of Americans killed by Hezbollah or Iranian proxies in Iraq or by AQ for that matter, which does get some support from Iran.

            Regarding retaliation: 1) Israel already destroyed, so not much help.

            2) I was talking about a terror attack. It would be much harder for Israel to hurt Iran if they had a nuke.

            Which could also describe the United States.

            Oh fuck off and get some perspetive. Until you do you have no grounds to lecture others.

            1. 1) Israel already destroyed, so not much help.

              Which is exactly why, as noted in the article, Israel has nuclear bombs on submarines. Probably always in striking distance of Iran.

            2. I was talking about Israel but your words would probably sound odd to the hundreds of Americans killed by Hezbollah or Iranian proxies in Iraq or by AQ for that matter, which does get some support from Iran.

              In other words, they seem to pose little to no threat unless the US fucks around in their backyard.

              Oh fuck off and get some perspetive. Until you do you have no grounds to lecture others.

              I dunno, the Iranian regime hasn’t recently smashed a country and replaced its government in a half-baked scheme to create a friendly government. The U.S. has. The Iranian regime fought the Iran-Iraq War, but that was instigated by Iraq.

              1. No, they have been more involved in helping an authoritarian regime crush a revolt and commit mass murder of its citizens. A fine distinction, I’ll grant you, but it’s something within their current ability.

                If they had the ability to knock off pesky governments, like Israel’s or Egypt’s, I suspect they would be just as happy to do that.

                None of that makes Iran any concern of ours, but that’s different than denying the fundamental evil of their theocracy.

                1. Note the on-going deflection.

                  Has Iran overturned the United States government? Then unleash one of the most barbaric, brutal secret service agencies ever to exist against los Americanos?

                  Does Iran have military installations all over the world?

                  Does Iran have a history of belligerent interventionism on par with the gringos?

                  Does Iran outspend the rest of the world on war?

                  Does Iran outspend the rest of the world on weapons of mass destruction?

                  Stop waving the flag.

                  1. You’re a pussy, STFU.

                  2. Current inability does not equal no desire and no strategy to accomplish these things. Iran did commit an act of war against the US (and has used its proxies to commit acts of war against several other countries).

                    Being against us bombing them now does not require denying that they are a bunch of vicious evil fucks, and being too stupid to recognize that at some point, we may have to defend ourselves, either reactively or proactively.

        2. With a nuke there’d be no hope of retaliating.

          That’s right. With even one nuke Iran suddenly becomes invincible.

  4. they want war and regime change, no matter what the Iranian government does.

    They’re crazy! They just want to blow up their neighbor, even though it would be suicide! They just want to blow up Israel, even though it would be suicide! They’re suicidal! We must kill them! Kill them! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!

    /Red Tony’s war boner

    1. Because you know, a regime that actively recruited kids as young as 10 to act as human mind sweepers would never sacrifice a large swathe of its civilian population for the cause.

      1. Nuking Israel would guarantee the regime’s own destruction, not just a bunch of civilian deaths.

        1. How so? They’d be sitting in their hardened bunkers with the revolutionary guard and then emerge when it was done. Those that hate the regime, who primarily live in the large cities would be dead while the regime’s base would remain alive.

          It wouldn’t be pretty, but sacrifice never is.

          1. They’d lose the entire economy which they currently control. They’d have reduced their lifestyle to bare subsistence in a destroyed country. They’d go from rulers of something to rulers of nothing.

          2. I don’t buy it. Iran is not Afghanistan under the Taliban. The regime is not trying to take the country back to the middle ages. They rule a fairly modern and prosperous country. They aren’t going to just throw that away. It is simply absurd to think that they would trade all of their power and wealth for a chance to hit Israel. They aren’t going to sacrifice everything they have to rule a pile of shit and be even more isolated from the rest of the world.

            1. If we simply must invade Iran, I say we get rid of the government and give all the power to Parsis who we will import from India.

            2. This is the thing, though – the “Bomb Iran” crowd thinks Iran is a sandbox full of Bedouin on camels ruled by shepherd mystics. Their profound ignorance of the world is what makes them think it should all be ruled by “civilized” countries like the US and Israel.

      2. They’re be sacrificing themselves too, not just the Iranian civlian population. Much easier to kick back and enjoy the dictatorship than to get killed in a nuclear exchange.

        1. Even Rafsanjani, who is described as “moderate” claimed that while they could destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, at best Israel would be able to wound Iran.

          1. And you take nationalistic rhetoric at face value? The regime has a sweet gig, pulling in enormous revenues for itself through control of the Iranian economy.

            1. When are we to take bellicose “nationalistic” rhetoric seriously? Only when the scary j000s are engaging in it?

        2. That’s the thing. What is there possibly to gain from using a nuclear weapon? Maybe they will build one, but I don’t buy for a minute that they would use it offensively. The Iranian regime may be evil religious zealots, but they are not insane or suicidal. They have managed to maintain power for 30 years and remain relatively prosperous despite pissing off a big chunk of the rest of the world. And they are just going to throw that all away?

          1. Who knows. I don’t, you don’t. Who knows what crazy person could seize power in an internal coup. Rubble makes no trouble.

            1. Who knows what crazy person could seize power in an internal coup.

              Goalposts go WHOOOOSH!

              1. Goalposts go WHOOOOSH!

                WTF are you talking about now? The voices in your head don’t count dipshit.

                This applies to any nuclear-armed country in the world.

                FALSE EQUIVALENCE ALERT

                Until the survivors crawl out of the rubble with a burning rage at the country which just slaughtered their friends, neighbors, and children. They might cause a little trouble.

                Yeah, post WW2 Japan has been such a problem.

                As ever, the peacenazi fantasy bubble is just as strong as the progtard fantasy bubble. Noninterventionism is a faith and reality is hetersy!

                1. Yeah, post WW2 Japan has been such a problem.

                  Culture matters.

                2. WTF are you talking about now?

                  Well, I believe the conversation was about the current Iranian regime. Not what may or may not happen after a coup that may or may not happen.

                  That’s what’s called “moving the goalposts.” Does that make sense, or would you like me to try again with smaller words?

                3. Dude, there is space in between “peacenazi” and “eternal war boner” which most people are capable of comprehending.

                  1. Dude, there is space in between “peacenazi” and “eternal war boner” which most people are capable of comprehending.

                    No, no, no, no, NO!

                    If you question attacking Iran then you don’t want the military to do anything at all! You don’t even want a military! You want nothing! Nothing at all! Nihilist! You want nothing! And you hate the troops! You hate America! Hater! Peacenazi hater!

                    1. You forgot anti-semite.

                4. FALSE EQUIVALENCE ALERT

                  What’s the false equivalence? Any nuclear-armed country could, hypothetically, be seized in a coup by an ideological loon who wishes to throw some nukes around.

                  1. What’s the false equivalence?

                    I think he was alerting us that he was about to give us an example of false equivalence by equivocating post WWII Japanese to the Iranians.

                5. peacenazi

                  Yes, who can forget how the Nazi party seized control of Germany and brutally imposed a pacifist foreign policy on the German populace?

            2. Who knows what crazy person could seize power in an internal coup

              This applies to any nuclear-armed country in the world. Who knows if Marine Le Pen will take power in France and nuke Romania in a mad quest to rid the world of gypsies forever? NUKE THE FROGS.

              Rubble makes no trouble.

              Until the survivors crawl out of the rubble with a burning rage at the country which just slaughtered their friends, neighbors, and children. They might cause a little trouble.

              1. Until the survivors crawl out of the rubble with a burning rage at the country which just slaughtered their friends, neighbors, and children.

                Blow-back can’t exist because it’s not the intention! Are you saying the military intends for people who watched loved ones die at the hands of our military to take revenge against America? How dare you! How fucking dare you! Our military has no such intentions, so blow-back is impossible! How dare you imply something like that against our troops! You should be flogged!

            3. Who knows. I don’t, you don’t.

              I really don’t think that’s a good basis to start a war over. Especially a war that will likely be far more difficult and costly in lives and money than anything we’ve done since WWII.

              Did you learn your Political Science from Randy Newman?

          2. What is there possibly to gain from using a nuclear weapon?

            Wrong question. The right question is, “What is there possibly to gain from possessing a nuclear weapon?”

  5. Iran’s not building a bomb? Then what’s the purpose of the Arak heavy water reactor? What? Sheldon has no answer? Colored me shocked.

    And if the Iranian regime is damn interested in peace, why is broadcasting simulations of a strike on Tel Aviv during the peace talks?

    I cannot understand why Reason gives publication space to someone as mendacious and stupid as Richman. Does he have incriminating photos of Welch using Gillespe’s jacket as a cum rag? I just don’t get it.

    1. Does he have incriminating photos of Welch using Gillespe’s jacket as a cum rag?

      In what way would this be incriminating?

    2. Because the peacenazi faction of libertarianism is just as mendacious and detached from reality as progs and they demand tribute. All who disagree with them are NEOCON.

      1. The same “give peace a chance!” shit gets tiresome. Not because I don’t want peace but because they don’t even know what they’re arguing against (similar to progs as you said). As if anyone wants war.

        1. As if anyone wants war.

          Plenty of people want war. Lots of warmongering doesn’t rise much beyond a primal desire to attack an enemy tribe. Sure, they have to honor formalities and say that they don’t want war, but at a very basic level they DESIRE war. They “don’t want war” in the same sense that Ted Haggard “didn’t want” to have a dick up his ass.

    3. Then what’s the purpose of the Arak heavy water reactor?

      I am not a nuclear physicist, but my understanding is that the heavy water route to an a-bomb is a long, hard slog. The germans were trying to go that route and didn’t get very far.

      Any of the nuclear experts here care to comment?

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_water_reactor

        While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yields greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel-enrichment facilities (mitigating the additional capital cost of the heavy water) and generally enhancing the ability of the reactor to efficiently make use of alternate fuel cycles.

        So if you want the peaceful reason then a heavy water reactor means no uranium enrichment and ability to burn a larger variety of fuels like 238U (see CANDU). On the hand because you’re burning 238U you are also making 239Pu which does make some pretty good bang stuff, and since it is chemically distinct from Uranium is easily extracted.

  6. You were doing OK up until “Iran has not attacked another nation in hundreds of years,” which ignores the proxy organizations such as Hezbollah through which Iran has initiated violence against other countries.

    1. Well, sure if you move the goalposts, you’re right. Every major nation, and some piddly ones, has engaged in proxy warfare. No moral high ground there.

      1. So the route to good standing in the international community is to do all of your military aggression via proxy? Because it’s totally not military aggression when you merely arm and finance somebody else’s military? And poof go any criticisms of American international meddling. Including, ironically enough, the “American military aggression” of the Iran-Iraq war that played so prominently in Richman’s comparison of bellicose Washington D.C. vs peacenik Tehran.

        What was that about goalposts now?

  7. In Iran we have a country whose populace, especially the younger generation, is pretty Westernized. Give it a generation, probably even 15?20 years, and the West would have a strong ally in a country that would at least be well on its way to a liberal democracy, if not there already. The Persian populace has always been (in my reading of history, at least) reluctant Muslims at best. They were the major power at hand to be conquered by the expanding Jihad, and were pretty much forcibly converted early on in Islam, and it seems to me that ever since they’ve been trying to make Islam more comfortable to Persian sensibilities.

    But sure, let’s throw all that away for a splendid little war. Guess you guys gotta get your petty Scotch-Irish border-chieftan rocks off some way, and if that means sacrificing a few foreigners who would likely be sympathetic to the West, and pissing off the others who would otherwise also likely be sympathetic to the West, well . . . you gotta break a few eggs and all that.

    1. *chieftain

    2. Can I at least tell y’all “I told you so” without being accused of not supporting the troops and Mom and apple pie and freedom when this all inevitably goes to shit? It wouldn’t make the horrendous loss of lives worth it, but it’d be something.

      1. The whole “you hate the troops, america and gawd” if you don’t oil up our war-boner is so 2003.

        Now you’re a #8 anti-semite on the hitlerian scale.

    3. You are right. The Iranian populace has always been more westernized than other Muslim countries.
      I for one think you do indeed support the troops when your effort is to keep them out of a needless war, and to give negotiations every chance to succeed. That is the definition of supporting the troops.

    4. That is just not true. That’s a myth that’s constantly been peddled.

      Young people in Iran are like all the other people – Islamist.

  8. Agree with some of your comments,however you can not expect Israel to trust a country that one the one hand denies the holocaust and on the other hand threatens to wipe Israel of the map.Not our fight though,Israel and Iran can settle their hash amongst themselves.

  9. A nuclear war in the ME? Good for the US? As long as the US stays out of it? Here is a guy who thinks about these things:

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfern…..ddle-east/

    Prevention is the better option. If it can be accomplished.

  10. France also has a commercial reason to restrain Iran’s nuclear industry . France has few competitors in nuclear power technology and services . Iran has stated specifically it wants to get into that business after it masters the processing of its own uranium ore .

    I bet Iran would accept any proposal which applied equally to Israel .

  11. “Lesson for foreign leaders who are in the doghouse with the U.S. government: Get a nuke.”

    You idiot. Sheldon Richman is an idiot.

    You forgot to mention Iran’s leaders publicly deny the Holocaust and call for the complete destruction of Isreal.

    Pakistan has nuclear capability. And we continually bomb the Taliban in Pakistan with drone strikes.

    1. “Iran’s leaders publicly deny the Holocaust.”

      No, they don’t. One of them mentioned once that Jews were not the only people killed in the Holocaust.

      “and call for the complete destruction of Isreal.”

      No, they don’t. They said Israel shouldn’t be represented as a sovereign nation on maps.

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