Saturday, November 12, 2011

Iranian Nukes - There Is No Deterrence

I didn't see tonight's GOP Presidential foreign policy debate, but a couple of quotes caught my attention. First, I have to applaud Perry for his position that we should reset foreign aid to zero, and not give any to uncooperative nations. Second, I was disturbed about the zeal of some of the candidates for going to war to prevent Iranian possession of nukes. To be clear, this was discussed as a last resort, but is still a bad idea, regardless. The threat of war is normally considered a deterrent, but, to paraphrase Israel Kasnett, deterrence only works when one's opponents have rational self-interest. However, Iranians leaders desire war with the west as a way to hasten the return of the 12th Madi.
The basic tenet of deterrence is built on a foundation of rational decision making by both sides – a capacity which Iran lacks.
So what is to be done? I think a policy of deliberate de-escalation on the part of the United States, coupled with a publicity campaign that makes it clear to the Iranian people that their leaders are endangering the safety of their people. Ultimately, we are going to have to play a subtle game, because public breast beating and escalation of tensions plays into Iranian desires. Newt, who thinks himself very clever, has apparently not thought this through. My opinion is that the Iranians are counting on the Israelis being the ones who will take action. However, the Saudis are probably the nation most threatened by Iranian nuclear ambitions. This is because the Saudis control Muslim's holiest cities and are the chief expositors of Sunni theology, which relegates the Shiite Persians to second class status. As this threat becomes more real the potential to pick up allies in the Middle East increases. However, early unilateral action allows the Saudis and others to sit on their hands and blame us for being Islamophobic.

If the Iranians only have a few nukes initially, they aren't going to target a nation with BMD defenses and potentially wasted their one invaluable resource, getting all of the downside associated with a strike, but none of the upside.

Let's be clear, the Iranians may end up launching a nuke, where it might land and whether it would detonate are open questions. As regrettable as that might be, we may have to wait and use that opportunity to reshape the world. I don't think the Iranian people are going to be too happy with a regime that puts them at risk.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting view. I have to partially agree. Sometimes it is best to let the other guy throw the first punch. A strategic defense initiate would be preferable, although the idiObama administration has been dismantling that in Europe.