All of the fearmongering about the dire consequences of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons sounds very familiar to me. Back in the 1960’s the same thing was said about India and then Pakistan, or how a nuclear war between those two countries would be inevitable if they obtained them. I think someone would have noticed if that had actually happened.
It didn’t, of course, any more than Stalin’s Soviet Union obtaining The Bomb resulted in a nuclear war with the United States, or Mao’s China getting it lead into a war with either the West or Russia or India, all of which were rivals to China in one way or the other.
More recently, for many years, the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations all thundered about the disaster which would ensue if North Korea successfully developed an atomic bomb. Well, the North Koreans did, and what happened? Essentially nothing, that’s what, except maybe a little more stability in the region, not less. For one thing, all of the American blustering about the possibility of doing something to accomplish “regime change” in North Korea suddenly stopped.
It’s an accepted fact that Israel somehow obtained nuclear weapons, possibly as early as 1973, and it’s also common knowledge in the global military community that Israel has one or two ballistic missile submarines floating around somewhere. The Israelis have used these weapons exactly as many times as Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have used them: Zero. The only nation with the dubious distinction of ever actually using the gods-damned things remains the United States, and even the Americans have never dared to use them again. Why?
The answer is as glaring as a nuclear explosion: Mutually Assured Destruction(MAD). Perhaps the most appropriate acronym ever created in the English language, MAD is the doctrine that one can never dare risk using nuclear weapons against another nuclear power or its non-nuclear allies because if one does, then one will be destroyed as surely as one’s enemy. In short, it’s madness to use the things.
It seems that what happens whenever a nation acquires nuclear weapons is that all of the others say, “Welcome to the Nuclear Club. There’s only one rule–you can never use your new weapons. If you do, you will die. Got it?”
Nuclear-armed rivals have another mutual benefit: They become very reluctant to even use conventional weapons against each other out of fear that any real war between them could escalate to the nuclear level, either through accident or design. This is why Pakistan and India have not engaged in a full-scale war since they both got nukes, and why the Americans and Russians never turned the Cold War into a hot one with their own non-nuclear forces on any kind of large scale. Even after the Soviet Union broke up, not once has any of its nukes have actually been used by anyone.
MAD works. We are all alive today because it does work.
So what would happen if Iran did successfully test an atomic bomb, and how would this affect the Middle East? First, Iran would join the Nuclear Club and have the one rule explained to its government, though I’m damned sure the Iranians are already well aware of it. Second, no one, not the United States, not Israel, would dare mount an all out conventional attack on Iran, or even try to hard too overthrow its government by other means. They would simply have to learn to live with it.
As the Iranian government would simply have to learn to live with Israel. By the same token, Iran’s allies in the region would become less tempting targets to attack, and the Iranians themselves would act to restrain the former from escalating conflicts too much out of the very reasonable fear that any war in the region could escalate into someone using The Weapon Which Cannot Be Used.
So what’s all the fuss really about? I think it’s because America and Israelknow that a nuclear-armed Iran would be able to successfully blunt their imperial ambitions in the region, and that Iran will probably get them sooner or later(after all, if the North Koreans did it, the Iranians can certainly do it), so they’re doing everything they can to get as much as they can before Iran actually joins the Nuclear Club, with all of the consequences I listed above.
It’s not really fear of the Iranians actually using nuclear weapons that is driving American and Israeli fearmongering, it’s the knowledge that American and Israeli options in the region will be much more limited after Iran acquires The Weapon That Cannot Be Used that is doing so.
I do find it interesting, however, that the Obama Administration has toned down its anti-nuclear rhetoric of late while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has increased his to frothing-at-the-mouth proportions in the middle of an Israeli election where the number one issues are the increasing costs of housing and growing inequality of wealth within Israel. Iran is barely on the radar in domestic Israeli political debate.
Maybe Obama’s been told by people who really do know that Iran will get nuclear weapons sooner or later, what it won’t do with them, and to just get over it. Pity those same people haven’t told our Congresscritters the same thing, or maybe they have and many of the latter are just too stupid to get it.
Anyway, my point is that a nuclear-armed Iran is NOT something to fear. If anything, it will bring more stability to the Middle East, not less, and surely more stability in that messed-up part of the world should be welcomed, not demagogued. There’s no need to panic here.
So I will finish here, listen to the returning cardinals and chickadees in northeastern Ohio, watch the snow continue to melt, and plan my first bar-b-que of the season tomorrow. Spring is coming.
And have a nice day.
crossposted from Ohio Barbarian’s Blog