Nearly all the frightening forecasts of what life would be like with a nuclear Iran strike me as being hollow. I’m not worried about Iran nuking Israel – because the Iranians don’t want to commit suicide. I’m not worried about Iran giving nukes to terror organizations that would nuke Israel – because Israel’s second-strike capacity, with its estimated 200 nuclear bombs, would devastate the Islamic world and the Islamic world knows it. I’m not worried that Iran’s “proxies,” such as Hezbollah and Hamas, would feel free under an Iranian “nuclear umbrella” to attack Israel at will – because, again, the Iranians don’t want to commit suicide. And I’m not worried that terrified Israelis or the money of terrified foreign investors would leave the country en masse – because this never happened in any of the many, many other countries of the world that have nuclear-armed enemies.
But I said “nearly” all the forecasts are hollow; one strikes me as being very realistic: that a nuclear Iran would set off a Middle East nuclear arms race, which would be highly destabilizing, escalate tensions and create the possibility that somebody would start a nuclear war simply out of fear of being attacked first.
If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it makes perfect sense to me that Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and other countries around here would want to follow suit ASAP. In fact, even if Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons, I see no reason why other ambitious countries, in the Middle East and elsewhere, wouldn’t want to build or otherwise acquire their own. All the best countries have them, don’t they? (Except Germany and Japan, but that could change one day.)
This is not good; nuclear proliferation is very dangerous, especially in a place like the Middle East, and it should be prevented if possible. So Israel and the U.S. do have one solid argument for why Iran must be prevented from going nuclear at all costs.
The problem is – who the hell is Israel or the U.S. to tell anyone not to go nuclear? Who is Israel or the U.S. to start a war with Iran for the sake of enforcing nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East?
The nuclear arms race in the Middle East was started by Israel over 40 years ago. If Israel and the U.S. want to stop it, let Israel give up its nukes and sign a non-proliferation agreement with Iran, Egypt and the rest of the region.
I can understand, though, why Israel, even with the best of intentions, would not want to do that – for fear that an enemy country would cheat, build the bomb and have Israel at its mercy.
Fine. If Israel wants to keep its nukes, it is well within its rights to do so, in my opinion. But it is not within its rights to bomb other countries or kill their scientists because they want to build nukes, too – even if those other countries’ leaders publicly wish Israel to disappear and deny the Holocaust, or give arms to Hamas and Hezbollah. If every country that gave arms to another country’s enemies became a legitimate target for attack, there would be no peace anywhere, anytime, certainly not in Israel or the U.S.
Israel and America may think they have the right to bomb Iran because, after all, they’re good and Iran is bad, Iran wants to kill and enslave people while Israel and the U.S. only want people to be free and happy. But this is a tough sell when they’re the ones threatening to start the war, not Iran. And even if we set the whole issue of Iran aside, there are a lot of people in the world who can make a strong case against Israel’s and America’s claims to be forces for only goodness, peace and freedom.
The chance of Israel attacking Iran before the November 6 U.S. election now is nil, but the chance of America doing it it with or without Israel’s help not too long after the election is considerable. In Iran, the centrifuges are still spinning, as Bibi likes to say, and Western powers aren’t going to just sit back and take it like wimps – they’re kicking the Iranians out, they’re cranking up the sanctions.
We are still on track for a U.S./Israeli strike on Iran, which, aside from being a war of aggression with unimaginable consequences, is no way to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The 57 Muslim nations will not accept that the region’s one Jewish country can hold the exclusive franchise on nukes and bomb any country that “violates” it, and with the backing of the world’s first and greatest nuclear power – the only country that ever dropped the bomb, and on two cities, yet.
If Israel and America want to prevent a Middle East nuclear arms race, let Israel give up its nukes first. And if Israel is unwilling to do that, let Israel and America stop complaining about Iran – or anyone else.