Thursday, January 26, 2006

No Threat Vs. A Real Threat Vs. An Immediate Threat

There's little question that Iran getting the bomb would be a threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East and the worlds oil supply.

There's also no question that some conservative voices would like to send our troops in to fix Iran (presumably the same way we've fixed Iraq).

This desire persists, despite a pair of reports that suggest our military cannot even maintain our presence in Iraq for much longer.

Jeff Jacoby writes a sneering article today at Townhall in support of a military solution to Iran. His sneers are reserved for those who hope that Iran can be contained peacefully, particularly wussy Europeons.
To be sure, not every British politician has been so weak-kneed. Tory MP Michael Ancram has called for Iran to be -- brace yourself -- expelled from the World Cup tournament in June. Barring the planet's foremost sponsor of terrorism from soccer matches -- now *there's* Churchillian grit. Ancram says it will send "a very, very clear signal to Iran that the international community will not accept what they are doing." Sure it will. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's rabid president, must break into a sweat thinking about it.
Later on he does indicate that a peaceful resolution is preferable (although you get the feeling his heart isn't in it), but that such a peaceful resolution is only likely if the United States is ready and prepared to invade Iran.

It's somewhat like Iraq, when President Bush threatened Iraq with invasion if they didn't let inspectors back in. Iraq let inspectors back in so naturally we invaded. I wonder if Iran learned anything about the trustworthiness of the US from that experience.

There's also an interview at Salon with Joseph Cirincione, director of nonproliferation at the Carnegie Center. It's a thoughtful interview and well worth reading for an assessment of where Iran is in their development of the bomb.
There's a real threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons, but it's not an immediate threat. All this talk of a "point of no return" or Iran being in a position within months to have a nuclear weapon is nonsense. There is a broad expert consensus, including the U.S. intelligence community, that Iran is five to 10 years away from the ability to enrich uranium for fuel or bombs. Even that estimate assumes that Iran goes full speed ahead and does not encounter any of the technical problems that plague such programs.
In my opinion we have more to fear, at this moment, from conservative pundits and the Bush administration pushing us into another unnecessary war than we have to fear from Iran.

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