Stalling for Time

The Islamic Republic of Iran has indicated it has no intentions of halting or dismantling its nuclear program. In fact, the negotiations with the European Union 3 (EU-3) are merely designed to ensure that Iran retains its nuclear program. Ali Agha Mohammadi, the spokesman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has stated as such:

“Iran will never scrap its nuclear program, and talks with Europeans are intended to protect the country’s nuclear achievements, not negotiate an end to them, an Iranian official said Wednesday.”

Despite a recent agreement with the EU-3 to suspend its enrichment programs, Iran is testing crucial components of its nuclear program. The EU-3, ignorant of the statements of Mr. Mohammadi, proceed to lay blame on the United States for failures in the negotiations:

The foreign ministers of several European nations have recently begun to warn that without American participation in an incentive package for Iran, their efforts could founder. “There has to be a sense that there will be a U.S. buy-in to the solution,” John Bruton, the European Union’s representative to the United States, told reporters earlier this week, adding that the administration was “not engaged in the way we would like.”

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice indicates the US will not bargain with Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The stage has been set for European finger pointing when negotiations fail, or even worse, lead to a weak agreement that enable Iran to pursue nuclear weapons much like the North Koreans did.

Iranian Nukes and the impact on the War on Terror

Philip Bobbitt, in The Shield of Achilles looks at the American strategy of the Cold War, the first war where two opposing nations possessed nuclear weapons:

The second issue is why this war remained “cold” . Like the decision to contest the unconsummated outcome of the Second World War, the decision to refrain from an armed conflict in Europe also required the commitment of two parties. On the American side, war meant (1) extending nuclear deterrence to Europe and Japan; (2) restoring conventional force levels in Western Europe to credible size so that this extension of nuclear deterrence would function; (3) refraining from initiating the use of force in Europe; and (4) accepting the challenge in “hot” campaigns outside of Europe. If the war remained “cold,” the United States believed it stood a good chance to win it because the issues, moral and political and economic, that kept the Long War going were thought to favor the West. Because the Long war was constitutional in nature, only a profound change in the Russian polity was certain to resolve it. The leadership of the United States believed such a change would ultimately come about (just as their adversaries [the Communists] not implausibly believed the reverse). (Page 48)

This strategy required that America deal with a rational actor on the world stage. While the Soviet Union and America had two highly competitive constitutional forms of governments, one expressing state control the other expressing individuality, neither state desired the complete destruction of their respective nations. The war was ensured to remain “cold” because both nations possessed nuclear weapons:

In Germany and Japan total defeat had allowed such a remaking of the basis of constitutional norms. After the Soviet acquisition of nuclear weapons, however, that sort of victory was never an option because a total defeat requires a total war. The United States could not afford to risk such a conflict with a nuclear power capable of striking the U.S. homeland and destroying it.(Page 48)

It can be argued that had not the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons, war in Europe would have ensued. It also can be argued a nuclear Soviet Union ensured the war was drawn out, and limited America’s flexibility in confronting Communism and defeating it quickly (the Korea and Vietnam campaigns had to remain long, drawn out wars of containment due to fears of Soviet and Communist Chinese nuclear escalation).

While we considered the Soviet Union to be a “rational actor” on the world stage, we cannot apply the same theory to Iran. An Iranian nuclear weapons program under the command of the theocratic Mullahs would be a nightmare for American foreign policy in the Middle East, reducing America’s foreign policy options and slowing down the spread of democracy.

The acquisition of nukes would provide a nuclear shield for the Islamist terrorists, and could lead to a nuclear exchange. We do not live in the Cold War era, where military actions were driven by states. Globalization has increased the profile and lethality of non-state actors – al Qaeda and Hezbollah are two primary examples. Globalization has also sparked the flow of technology and knowledge. During the Cold War, nuclear programs could only be conducted by large industrial states with vast resources. Today, the smallest of states can start a nuclear program. We are still recovering from the results of A.Q. Khan’s proliferation efforts across the Middle East. States such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt would fear the Iranian bomb, and would work to obtain their own nuclear weapons programs, sparking yet another round of out of control nuclear proliferation in the heart of the backward and hostile Middle East.

There is one other state actor that cannot be ignored. Israel will not tolerate the Iranian bomb, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, (full bio here)the former President of Iran and influential member of the Iranian governing council has made the following threat against Israel; “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” It does nto get any clearer than that.

Couple Iran’s sponsorship of Hezbollah, who is in league with Palestinian terrorists, with the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, and Israel is likely to do everything within its means to stop the Iranian bomb.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • KG says:

    What is astonishing is that the same “liberals” who squealed endlessly about how there were ‘now WMDs’ in Iraq, are now still opposed to any action against Iran, who is openly saying that it has WMD programs.
    This hypocrisy is astonishing, and that it is not even surprising shows how the “liberals” no longer deserve to be treated with credibility.

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