Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nuclear Deterrence and Iran

According to an article from Haaretz, the Obama administration will "offer Israel a 'nuclear umbrella' against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran." This would also include "a new and improved Israeli anti-ballistic missile system." 

I'm already seeing some criticism of this from the right, assuming the story is even true.  I'm not going to join in.  In my opinion, a policy of deterrence is our only realistic option.  Iran is not going to give up its nuclear aspirations, and we simply do not have the political will, let alone any popular support,  for the type of sustained attack on Iran necessary to cripple its nuclear program.  [See my previous post on that subject here.]  As for the Israelis, unless they are prepared to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons, it is difficult to see how they could carry out such an attack either, without U.S. acquiesence & support -- which would cause most of the same sorts of difficulties as a solo U.S. attack.  Given the state of the U.S. economy, the planned withdrawal from Iraq, and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, there is simply no support for a war with Iran.  It's not going to happen unless Iran starts one.

I still fear that Obama might be suckered into making some sort of deal with Iran, in which they pretend to give up their nuclear program ala North Korea, and we naively provide them with some sort of quid pro quo.  But I view Obama's focus on deterrence in the case of Iran as a welcome sign of realpolitik.  If true, it will raise my low estimation of his foreign policy acumen by a couple of notches.  

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