The Right Coast

January 18, 2006
The bad news on Iran
By Tom Smith

Krauthammer is usually right about these things.

You have to think about these things from a game theory perspective, which just means strategically and assuming the parties are rational (in a limited sense). Doing that, the correct move on our part might be to make a credible threat, quite apart from any UN or EU3 action, that we will take some massively destructive action to remove Iran's nuclear threat, if they do not convince us they are not going to develop weapons. We would have to make such a threat credible, which would be possible to do, but not easy. If the threat works, we stop Iranian weapons without war. But this requires a credible commitment to make war if necessary -- not easy to do with our system.

Alternatively, we could enter into some sort of mutual nuclear defense pact with Israel, to the effect that any attack on Israel by Iran or by an Iranian proxy, would be viewed as an attack on the US and would trigger massive retaliation. This would also have to be credible. It might involve some sort of public sharing with Israel of nuclear weapons and delivery technology. If we gave Israel 100 high yield nukes and the missiles to deliver them, Iran would have to think twice about "wiping them off the map." It is one thing for Israel to have nukes. It is another thing for Israel to have a whole lot of them from us, with reliable delivery, and for everybody to know it. We could also enter into an agreement with Israel that we would deliver to them such weaponry if and when Iran acheived some milestone in its nuclear weapons development (which might include failing to convince us they had not stopped the development). In short, if the US can make credible commitments to respond to certain actions or inactions by Iran in appropriate ways, we might be able to avoid a descent into regional and quite possibly world war. I doubt this or any future president will have either the political will or the political support to do this. Later we will be able to say, we had a world war, but at least we did not have an imperial presidency.

Without a doubt, these are very dangerous times.