Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rolling the dice on Iran

I found the David C. Hendrickson and Robert W. Tucker’s article A Test of Power in The National Interest Online an interesting and sobering article about the mistakes the US is making with Iran diplomacy. (link via ald)
A more reasonable understanding of America's true power is that it maintains in abundance the elements whereby to contain and deter threatening actions by hostile regimes. For defensive purposes, it can still marshal an impressive international consensus; it is only when it finds aggressive war necessary to ensure its security that it becomes isolated and friendless in the international community. For defensive purposes, its military power, both conventional and nuclear, is prodigious; it is only when the United States seeks to assign to military power tasks that press against its inherent limitations--e.g. using force to promote liberal democracy, or threatening force to compel change within the national territory of hostile regimes--that it appears insufficient for the tasks it is called upon to perform.
The essence of the argument for waging preventive war against Iran to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons goes like this.

Iran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons.
Iran is a rogue state.
All rogue states are irrational.
Irrational states will blow up the world because they do not care about the suicidal nature of their actions.
Iran will blow up the world once they obtain nuclear weapons.
Therefore, the US must start a war with Iran to prevent them from blowing up the world.

The argument displays the same logic that the US used to invade Iraq. Every premise in the argument is shaky at best. What the argument further obscures is the cost of a preventive strike against Iran. For instance, if you think oil prices are high now, just wait until the US starts a war with Iran. If you think the violence in Iraq cannot get any worse, just wait until the US gets in a war with Iran.

Those leading the hysteria over the Iran nuclear threat are the same people who failed to regard any realistic assessment of the consequences of invading Iraq. Consequences simply do not matter to them.

These same folks say that no price is too high to pay as long as there is the mere suspicion that Iran’s ultimate goal is to become a nuclear power. Yet, these same folks always find a way to pass the risk and consequences of their actions along to other folks. They have no conception of what it is to pay the price and suffer the consequences of their actions. They do not care about making serious cost/benefit and risk/reward analyses. They go with their gut, which for them means their hysterical emotions.

Profligate and irresponsible gambling with other people’s lives and money is easy to do, and too good to be true. As with all things too good to be true, it will eventually end. Fools, however, fail to recognize this.

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