Can We Contain Iran?

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Can the U.S. contain a nuclear Iran?


Danielle Plekta says the U.S. cannot contain a nuclear Iran. The trouble is, she doesn't really specify what we would contain Iran from doing except for a brief mention that a nuclear Iran might "engage in adventurism in Lebanon, Iraq and Israel." In other words, Iran will keep doing what it's doing, only maybe more so.

Then she raises the bar:

Many also scoff at the notion that a responsible Iranian leader would risk using or transferring nuclear weapons or technology. We are told that Ahmadinejad (who most acknowledge is crazy enough to use such a weapon) won't make the final decision. But the regime is remarkably opaque, and shifting power centers ensure that even capable intelligence agencies have low levels of certainty about decision-making in Iran's nuclear program. If our intelligence community's prognostications about Iran's reaction to the Obama engagement policy are any indication (apparently they predicted that Iran was desperate to talk), then it seems safe to conclude that no one knows whose finger will be on Iran's nuclear trigger.

And? What? That means they'll launch a nuclear weapon? I don't see the logic here. We apparently don't know where all of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are either, and, unlike Iran's nuclear scientists, Pakistan's met with Osama bin Laden. That seems much, much more dire.

The only way a nuclear Iran could plausibly be presented as a threat to the United States homeland is if someone produces evidence that, contrary to 60 years of world history, and at least two decades of Iran's own history as a WMD power, that they will try to smuggle into or launch a weapon at the United States. Otherwise, the real fear is not that the lives of Americans are in any concrete danger when Iran goes nuclear but that the power balance in the Middle East might tilt in Iran's favor.

We can have a debate about how bad a development that is and what price we should pay to prevent that - but that is the debate, not scare stories about a potential Iranian nuclear attack.

(AP Photos)

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