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Umm, worlds leading sponsor of terrorism? Care to back that up with some figures? Cause I think Pakistan and Saudi may be contenders for the title...


What you suggest would create an opportunity for other nukie states who see Iran as a threat ... Pakistan and who else, hmmm? ... to get the US to do their dirty work for them. (And of course in the aftermath of such retaliation, we would NEVER get the correct forensics on the table.)

Perhaps the time for such a declaration would be before the Iranian test. Actually I don't know that a declaration is required; that would seem to be the situation we are in already.


That's exactly the problem. The net result would be the US setting herself up to be used as the hammer by any nation or organization that wanted to do harm to Iran. And if they also had no love for Israel, you can see the strategy here - attack Israel and destroy Iran, all without consequence. No - you can't designate a punching bag for any bad act.

But more important is to set aside the hyped 'boogey man' view of nuclear weapons and think about their actual deployment. As was discovered during the cold war, no advantage accrues from their offensive use. Indeed, nuclear states struggle to find ways to AVOID their possible use because the offensive nation cannot survive a nuclear exchange.

What ARE nuclear weapons for? Deterrence. Why would Iran want to build one? Regional deterrence against the Israeli nuclear threat and the potential Saudi nuclear threat. Strategic deterrence against the Israeli and American conventional threat.

Just as the Pakistani nuke threat is over-hyped (no way to get control of a warhead in secret, no way to enable it, no way to tamper with it, no way to transport it, no way to deliver it), the Iranian nuclear "threat" is a fairy tale. Even if they build a first-generation warhead, they have the north korea problem - there is nothing they can do with it but hope to deter conventional attacks...


Really, man? Next to that let's bomb Pakistan piece, this blog is starting to look like it's looking to be hosted at Commentary.

Come on.


Yes, only a neocon might want to craft a deterrent strategy for a nuclear Iran. You've cracked it. Commentary is a big fan of my FBI Islamophobia series, after all.


There are a couple of problems with your scenario.

First of all, terrorists don't need access to a state nuclear program to pull of a radiological attack. (In fact, they don't need it for a nuclear one either....) They can find the radioactive materials required at a large hospital or certain industrial sites. So in your scenario a white supremacist from Maine could cause the U.S. to attack Iran?

Second, there is a lot of fissile material in Russia and other former Soviet states that has never been properly accounted for at the same time Pakistan is increasing the size of its arsenal and therefore its stockpile of fissile material. So in an effort to clarify its deterrent strategy for a nuclear Iran, the U.S. will have to resort to Cuban Missile Crisis 2.0 without the accompanying clarity of ownership?

Besides, Robert Gallucci got there a few years ago: http://ann.sagepub.com/content/607/1/51.short


Man, I like this blog, but, really? That's your deterrent strategy? Really? If so, you should hang out with Tancredo.

Not only did the US give up the doctrine of massive retaliation in the early 1960s, but even back then, it was never formulated in such a meat-headed, knee-jerk way. Nuclear deterrence theory is, you know, a whole object of inquiry with an enormous literature, and this kind of red-meat stuff is a bit of a caricature.

This is the kind of thoughtless machismo that I'd expect to hear on right-wing AM radio. Frankly, I expect something more thoughtful on here.

The islamophobia stuff is solid reporting, and I'm glad you're doing it, but this and your recent let's-bomb-the-fuck-out-of-Pakistan post really take away from more serious fare.


Sanger's complaints about deterrence are silly in the extreme.

Lets game this out:

1) Hezbollah detonates a nuclear bomb (your choice of targets). Intelligence links the bomb to Iran. Result: US immediately attacks Iran.

2)Hezbollah detonates a nuclear bomb (your choice of targets). Intelligence cannot establish clear links to its origin. Result: US immediately attacks Iran.

3) Hezbollah detonates a nuclear bomb (your choice of targets). Intelligence clearly links the bomb to Russia (or China or Korea or Israel or anyone). Result: US immediately attacks Iran.

The deterrence works of course because Iran gets blamed for everything in the Middle East, from rockets to bombs to hang-nails. The idea that they wouldn't get blamed for a nuclear bomb (and that they aren't perfectly aware of this) is absurd on its face. You proposed policy is already the reality and is understood by all, despite not having ever been formally stated.


weasel---the sheer insanity of blaming Iran for a nuclear weapon detonated by the Iranian client Lebanese Hezbollah is mind-boggling.

(and BTW....almost all of their 60,000 + rockets were assembled from old refrigerator and stove parts or were bought at local yard sales.)


Fuster - thanks for making my point. Iran would get blamed automatically. Hence, there is no chance that deterrence would fail because Iran would believe it could sneakily slip a nuke to another group.


yup weasel, if the Knights of Columbus detonates an Iranian-supplied nuclear weapon, we'll be gobsmacked and Iran will have escaped before we make the connection.


completely insane idea spencer

I have been reading you for years and I have no idea where this idiotic idea came from

have you seen any Pod's in your basement recently


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