In my earlier posting, A walk down memory lane, I had this to say about the Bush Doctrine:
It was crystal clear to me and to anyone else who was able to listen to what Bush actually said rather than what he was reported to have said that OFI was part of a campaign that included Iran. Iraq serves as a political and, if necessary, military bridgehead in the Mideast. We saw some of the political benefits from the liberation of Iraq when Libya abandoned its nuke program – we’re seeing more now.
I concluded by saying that Iran was the “final target” of the Bush administration’s grand strategy. “Final target” doesn’t mean that the grand strategy entails preemptive war against Iran. If Iran vouchsafes that it has abandoned its nuclear ambitions, then the grand strategy will have succeeded and war becomes unnecessary. But, will Iran disarm?
From the perspective of the mullahs, Western culture is a mortal threat. Against the freedom, affluence, and vitality of the West, the mullahs can only offer a decadent medievalism that was on the way out 500 years ago. The mullahs realize that without nukes, Iran will be unable to maintain its closed society and the theocracy will collapse of its own weight. Against this is the fact that “Old Europe” and the U.N. are appeasers and will actively obstruct the U.S. The mullahs also have to be aware of political opposition to the Bush Doctrine in the U.S. As long as they believe that no one has the will to stop them, there is no incentive stop nuclear development.
An important question to ask at this point is, “Why is it so bad if the Iranians develop nukes?” There are two assumptions implicit in this question. The first is that Iran will cease supporting terrorism. The second is that Iran will be deterrable.
The first assumption is wishful thinking. Militant Islam, by its nature, is not going to turn inward and abandon jihad by terror as part of its armamentarium (see, for example, this recent report detailing Iranian political and military leaders calling for martyrdom to further jihad). A nuclear-armed Iran will be an essentially invulnerable terrorist sanctuary because of the risk that a U.S. attack on terrorist camps will provoke a nuclear response.
The second assumption has some validity. Deterrence has worked in the past. For example, the Germans had nerve gas in World War Two and never used it for fear that the allies would retaliate in kind. Are the mullahs as deterrable as the Nazis? The Iranian politico-religious celebration of martyrdom, coupled with Iranian military men implying nuclear martyrdom is valid suggests they are not. We also know that Japan was not deterred from using biological warfare in World War Two. In fact, the Japanese were preparing to hit the U.S. with plague bombs before atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war. Even if Iranian leaders stop short of fighting a war of nuclear martyrdom, fighting a proxy war by making nukes available to national or sub-national third parties is an attractive alternative.
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