Iran is Going to Get a Bomb–Deal With It


Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Sounds plausible Chris. So far I’d say Obama has been pretty much on-key with regards to Iranian foreign policy. He’s mouthed the appropriate platitudes and ignored the hawks and pretty much left the Persian pot to boil on its own. Considering the limits of our ability to project force into Iran and the consequences of trying to do so I think this has been the correct choice. Note that even the Israelis, no doves there, haven’t actually tried to strike either.
    It’s generally considered advisable to speak softly and carry a big stick. When the big stick isn’t available the soft speaking becomes even more helpful.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    What If?

    Now, of course, we all know that the people who hold the government in Iran are (as all people are) totally down with the whole enlightened self-interest thing. They don’t want the bomb to blow up Israel. They don’t want the bomb to blow up anybody. They want it for deterrence and deterrence alone (as all countries do).

    Any noises that the powers that be over there make regarding religion are usually buffoonish and, where not buffoonish, are perfectly analogous to stuff said at CPAC over the weekend.

    That said.

    What if they bomb somebody?

    I mean, yeah, we bombed Japan, not once but twice. We arguably shouldn’t have dropped the first bomb and everybody with any moral fiber at all knows that we shouldn’t have dropped the second one and so we have absolutely no ground upon which to stand and judge Iran if they bomb somebody unless we live in Canada but it’s not like Canada didn’t benefit from Japan being bombed too.


    But what if Iran bombs somebody?Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Officially and in most left wing circles the line is that if Iran bombed someone (and lets call a spade a spade, if they bombed anyone it’d be Israel) then we’d turn them into glass. It’s a good line. Nice deterrent effect; simple.

      Now sadly I don’t know that we’d actually do what we say we would do. I mean imagine if Iran bombed Israel, or imagine if they smuggled a bomb to Israel via Hezbollah or some other group so they could wave their hands and say “No, no by Allah’s beard it wasn’t us!” I could very easily imagine a lot of leftists wringing their hands. An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind platitudes would be platituted. Perfectly apt observations about the number of innocents that would die would be observed. I’d like to think we’d bomb them if they bombed someone else. It’d be very much in our interests; deterrent is pretty much all ya got when it comes to The Bomb. MAD served the world well during the cold war. But with radioactive ash raining down on Tel Aviv would we actually vaporize millions of Persians in retaliation? I don’t know for sure that we would.

      Now the surviving Israelis would say “Let Allah sort em out” and nuke them with everything they had. They’d be promptly condemned by Europe and the UN Human Rights tribunal too.

      Such is the nature of the further left. Though I prefer it to the “lets nuke em just in case” nature of the further right.Report

      • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

        in answer to jay’s question, there’s a question before the question. In this hypothetical what happened before the bombing? If we are playing what if games, my guess is that Iran only bombs in a case where they are either A)attacked or B)perceived to be under attack.

        B would occur when they are not recognized as the great regional power they want to be if and when they get said bomb. [as this is a hypothetical, I’m speculating of course.]

        Basically the deal that I think will have to be struck whenever that pass some threshold will be basically the deal Pakistan got. We’re not happy about it, we aren’t officially going to recognize it, but we always realize what the implication is. You are now a member of the nuclear power club, here’s how to live in that.

        Rule #1: You don’t use this thing ever. You don’t give it away to some nutter who would.

        If Rule #1 is violated, Rule #2 comes into play–The “D” in MAD is invoked. Destruction.

        When this (hypothetical?) day of Iran’s recognition comes, then it shifts the playing field of the Middle East significantly. Israel will no longer be the lone superpower/nuclear power in the region. That opens up a whole new wrinkle to the Palestinian issue.

        My hope would be the good that could come out of this would be a Palestinian state. That’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is apocalyptic levels of violence and bloodshed.

        An in between scenario is something like, Iran is still quasi-contained though not really, still stirs up s–t in the neighborhood, has a bomb or a bomb-like deterrence capacity, but is kept still pretty isolated economically. But basically a deal is struck to keep the Revolutionary Guard in power. Where the ferment then goes in Iran is anybody’s guess.Report

        • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

          iow, I see it heading towards a Pakistan-India situation. Tense, at times possibly very tense (a la ’99 with Pak-India), but (hopefully?) cooler heads prevailing. Pakistan/Iran likely still funding some baddies in the region. Iran (like Pakistan?) having a strong civil society ruled? jostled with by an unelected military junta. India/Israel having to hold some higher ground, not have the nationalist grievance the other country has, and able to stay forward looking.

          But I’m not sure Palestine is quite the same thing as Kashmir. That adds a whole other (potentially very detrimental) addition to the Israel-Iran situation.Report

          • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

            I should say Iran (even ruled by the Revolutionary Guard) is far less scary to me than NoKo.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I agree in general with all of the above Chris. Heck, I’ll go a step further and say I’m inclined to find Junta ruled Iran less scary than Mullah ruled Iran. But I’m hopeful that Junta ruled Iran is even less acceptable to the Iranians. The ideal turn out is that the green revolution actually tips the government over. Forget Iraq, the Iranians really have most of the ingredients to put together a nice modern democratic country.Report

        • Avatar Scott says:

          You seem to be assuming that the Iranians agree to and will play by the same rules that we in the West do. Clearly they don’t in other areas so why would you assume it in this area?

          I find the Iranians more scary that NoKorea b/c the Iranians are religious nutters while Kim is not.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          “In this hypothetical what happened before the bombing?”

          Let’s say something akin to the status quo.

          Maybe Israel kills a Hamas dude in a hotel, maybe Israel doesn’t. Hostilities are, for the most part, at a low level… as have they been since the Six Day (SIX DAYS, BITCHES!!!) War.

          I’m wondering if Iran comes out and says “we got one!” and a bomb then goes off in… oh, let’s pick a country out of a hat… Israel what will then likely happen?

          You think apocalyptic?Report

          • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

            I think if Iran used a nuclear weapon it would be responded to in kind and in fact probably by orders of magnitude worse. You can call that apocalyptic or not or whatever word is preferred, but it would be unimaginably horrible.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              That’s not what I was saying (I mean, I totally understand what you were saying).

              The main thing I’m wondering is what will happen if Iran uses a bomb. Mostly… how will the rest of the world respond? Israel bombing the crap out of Iran qualifies as apocalyptic in my book (will someone be able to say “they talked about this in Revelation” and it will make sense? Then we’ve got legit apocalyptica there).

              The questions I have were more in the vein of:
              What will Israel do?
              What will Saudi Arabia do?
              What will Egypt do?
              What will France do?
              What will England do?
              What will we do?

              I suppose that if Israel responds in kind, the answers to the next questions become a lot less relevant.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Israel: Destroys everyone else in the region.
                Saudi Arabia: Nothing. They’re dead.
                Egypt: Ibid.

                The last three? God knows…but I hope there’s a secret cache of oil somewhere that we don’t know about.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Hrm. This scenario makes sense to me, I guess.

        As a measure of my cynicism, I see it as the most likely scenario… but, hey. I was wrong about the aftermath of the attack on the school in Belsen. I’m probably wrong about this too.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        With Israel’s Samson Policy on nuclear deterrence (which is: if they get nuked, they take everyone in the region down with them) no Iranian regime that wasn’t suicidal would risk giving a non-state actor like Hezbollah a nuclear weapon.

        I mean really, of all the possible scenarios…

        If anything the likelihood is that Iran becomes incredibly sensitive to fissile material moving around non-state actors like that and moves to crack down on them.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      How can you compare the US bombing Japan and with what the Iranians might do? We nuked the Japs as part of a war they started, and anyway Curtis LeMay’s firebombing killed more people.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Won’t someone think of the children?Report

        • Avatar Fish says:

          At least one could say that Hiroshima and Nagasaki had some strategic value as targets, whereas firebombing Tokyo only served to (gulp) terrorize the Japanese people while trying to get Hirohito to wise up to the fact that he wasn’t going to win. Also, the second bomb was as much for Stalin as it was for defeating the Japanese.Report

    • Avatar Louis B. says:

      The only two such attacks took place when a single nation had a monopoly on nuclear weapons.

      I’m not counting on it.Report

  3. Avatar Kweku says:

    Israel steals Palestinian lands, Kills their children and women and bombed them with white phosphorus bombs–and the world says nothing. A palestinian man straps a bomb on himself and kills Israelis, and the whole world shout TERRORIST. Did we say we are God’s children who are religious and impartial? Satan may be laughing his lungs out!Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Not exactly accurate. You left out the unprovoked invasions of annihilation against Israel, the pogroms of the Jews in all the other Arab nations, the wanton and in many cases intentional targeting of Israeli civilians and the blatant use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. The Palestinians are not angels in this sorry story either.

      Goodness knows though that there’s blame enough to spread around. And there’s no arguing that the Israelis have to either man up and drag their fruitcake right wingers out of the West Bank just like they did in Gaza or else enfranchise the Palestnians and cease to be a Jewish nation.Report

  4. The idea that Iran might acquire a nuclear bomb, or a few of them, or even a quite a few of them, is not the main issue, scary though it is. The worse and most dangerous aspect of the whole thing is that it would undoubtedly lead to other nations in the region seeking to acquire their own nuclear bombs. Saudi Arabia, maybe Egypt, possibly Jordan, Turkey, maybe even somewhere down the road, Iraq. And of course, Syria. It could turn into the world series of nuclear programs. And sooner or later, somebody is going to use them. Or a bunch of them. And there’s really not a hell of a lot we can do about it, except make sure we keep up to speed and get set to respond when, not if, we eventually have to. When you consider the degree of corruption that plagues some of these countries, you have to wonder how long it will take before some religious fanatical group bribes somebody, or prevails on someone with similar sentiments, to sell them some of their materials, or even worse, grants them access to an actual missile site, complete with the codes necessary to fire one off.Report

  5. Avatar Jon says:

    This may be a a coup supporting Ahmadinejad; that’s what one well-connected opinion thought a few months ago. Or maybe they’re a secondary coup replacing him with the Revolutionary Guards’ leader. There’s just not enough evidence on the ground to be sure of much.

    Military dictatorship’s ‘s somewhat more dangerous than the old Iranian constitution replaced. Though the fact was a little hard to understand from American media, Iran used to have checks and balances keeping theocrats from getting too stupid. Consider Fascism’s longevity vs Communism’s, despite hopeless economics; that’s because Communist states have checks and balances as well. They’re also, of course, like Communist states in being authoritarian (note – Pakistan’s nothing like as authoritarian as Iran).

    Still, Ahmadinejad didn’t hack his constitution by being stupid enough to want to replace power with life in fear in a hole in the ground, so I’m not too worried. Remember, propaganda by the ton’s been printed about impending American military defeat since Hiroshima while the real world’s stayed deterred. I’m guessing Iranian anti-Israeli talk’s more of the same.

    I think the US and NATO would most likely respond to an Iranian nuclear attack by trying to organize a coalition for regime change like for their to their neighbors we wrongly suspected of WMD ownership. After all, the launch’d hardly be the idea of the Iranian people. Israel might beat us out with nuclear retaliation on innocent parties, though.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Personally, if I lived in a postage stamp sized country and someone dropped a nuke on me I’d definitly nuke them back if I had the ability to.Report

  6. Avatar Carl Scott says:

    “Deal with it.” “There’s not much we can do about it.”

    Spineless irresponsibility masking itself as adult realism. Once again, our grandchildren will curse us.Report

  7. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    I’m afraid the last thing civilization wants is for Muslims to have nukes. I’m afraid Mr. Scott is correct.Report

  8. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Ask the Indians.Report

  9. There’s nothing we can do about it. They have them, and I can promise you they aren’t giving them up. They have every reason in the world to keep them, they’re the greatest bargaining chips imaginable. As long as they have them, they can play off our fears of them falling into the hands of Al-Queda or Taliban agents or sympathizers, and that translates into pretty much whatever they want, within reason, in the way of aid. All they have to do is promise to at least make a concerted effort to keep things on a pretty even keel in regards their relations with India and in reining in their insurgents. It’s not an accident that there hasn’t been any full-blown hostilities with India since they established their on-going nuclear production capabilities.Report