Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stanley Kurtz on Iran on National Review Online

By Aussiegirl

This is a long and and troubling article, but realistic. We are going to have to face a dangerous future, and we better start thinking about how we are going to deal with some unpleasant possibilities now.

The thing that is most worrisome in this article to me is the idea that the U.S. would be reluctant to retaliate for a nuclear strike with a nuclear response, but would opt for a major conventional military invasion of the country responsible. There are a number of problems with this possibility, although I agree that sadly, we have become so civilized that our nuclear deterrent is useless, because no one really believes we will ever use it. The first problem is identifying the country from where the attack originates, and the second is the hopelessness of a conventional ground war against a country like Iran. All you have to do is look at the killing fields that was the Iran/Iraq war - and that was with Saddam being willing to use all sorts of horrific methods. We would, as always, be constrained by our own civilized Geneva accord rules, while Iran would employ tactics such as using children in waves of suicide attacks like they did in the war with Iraq. None of these scenarios is good - but steeling ourselves to the necessity of overwhelming nuclear retaliation is by far the preferable solution.

Stanley Kurtz on Iran on National Review Online

American politics is about to undergo a sea change. Our lives are going to be transformed on a more personal level as well. Sometime between now and five-to-ten years from now we’re going to be forced to choose between preemptive war with Iran, and living in a post-proliferation world. War with Iran will probably mean casualties on American soil. Iran has likely placed terrorist agents in the United States, with instructions to retaliate against civilian targets in the event of war. We’ll also likely see attacks on Persian Gulf oil shipments, and therefore a huge spike in the price of gasoline, with major economic consequences.

But what if there is no preemptive strike? What if Iran gets the bomb? (I find it tough to credit the notion that a negotiated agreement with Iran can prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. At any rate, only an imminent American military strike would have any hope of generating a verifiable bargain.) An extraordinary new article by Stephen Peter Rosen, “After Proliferation: What to Do if More States Go Nuclear,” makes it obvious that our lives and our politics are going to change dramatically in a post-proliferation world. So either we go to war with Iran — likely a more costly war than any we’ve faced since 9/11 — or our lives will transform forever. To see what I mean, let’s take a tour of Rosen’s remarkable argument.

Who Hit Me?
Rosen begins by sidestepping (or seeming to sidestep) the controversy between hawkish proliferation pessimists and dovish proliferation optimists. Proliferation pessimists (like yours truly) see only a limited chance of averting disaster if states like Iran get the bomb. For hawkish proliferation pessimists, tough action in the present is our last, best chance to keep the dangerous nuclear genie corked-up in his bottle.


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