After the big kerfuffle at Columbia over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit, the issue of Iran’s nuclear program has once again come to the fore of media attention (though it hasn’t seemed to make in onto Mr. Ahmadinejad’s blog recently). Besides the utterly bankrupt position of hiding your head in the sand and pretending it isn’t so (much like Mr. Cline on Obama’s run for the presidency), the number of options remaining on Iran have dwindled tremendously. Here they are, as I see them and why they’re all bad. In our long standing tradition of multi-part series on complicated issues, I’ll be looking at America’s options in four parts. Unfortunately for us in America, they range from bad to worse…
Option #1: Accept the inevitability of Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state.
This is, largely, the position of Gen. John Abizaid [ret]. The argument here is that we’ve dealt with nuclear states who don’t like America before (the USSR and China) come to mind, and things have worked out alright. Like the Soviets and Chinese, the Iranian regime doesn’t desire it’s own annihilation, and would be incredibly unlikely to use the weapon unless directly threatened with their own destruction. The big problem with Gen. Abizaid’s approach is that it will tear a very large hole in the non-proliferation regime (though after Bush’s devil’s deal with India, there might not be much worth saving).
You see, a Persian bomb gives Iran the #1 spot in the middle east and will exacerbate the Arab world’s already overgrown inferiority complex (because, you see, the hated Persians, who also happen to be Shiite heretics, are now provably “better” than Arabs). This means that there will be serious pressure to develop an Arab-controlled nuclear weapon. My money is on Egypt doing the dirty deed, since they actually have the technical expertise for it, though I’d wager that the Saudis’ would be quietly helping to foot the bill. Syria, who has never been Iran’s patsy (no matter what the news media and the Bush administration would have you believe), would also need a weapon to rebalance their relationship with Iran (witness the recent Israeli airstrike inside Syria shortly after a North Korean ship off-loaded it’s cargo). They’d probably try to buy a weapon off Pakistan or North Korea (good luck with that) or try to buy they’re way into the Egyptian/Saudi project. Either way this puts us at 2-3 new weapons states in addition to Iran, all run by non-Democratic strongmen. This will not end well. To make matter worse, all these bombs will have the nasty side effect of increasing the price of oil even more. This is bad for everyone (now even the House of Saud has to worry about getting nuked), except perhaps Hugo Chavez (where the increased oil prices might give him a better shot at staying in power).
You might wonder why I don’t mention the possibility of Iran selling the bomb to the likes of al Qaida. I feel this is unlikely because the Iranians know that should al Qaida get the bomb, Persian Shiites are up on their hit list right after the US and Israel (witness the sectarian killings perpetrated by al Qaida in Iraq). From my perspective, this makes Iran very unlikely to share the technology with al Qaida. Besides, if you’ve got the biggest bomb on the block, the last thing you do is give it to your neighbors.