Richard Clarke, the Left’s favorite counterterrorist, co-authored an op-ed for the Sunday NY Times arguing against bombing Iran (link unavailable). The piece argued that in the mid-90s the Clinton Administration was faced with a decision of whether to bomb Iran because of its support for terrorism, but decided instead to act covertly. The article goes on to discuss how bombing Iran would be disastrous because it would lead to higher oil prices, increased Iranian-sponsored terrorism and worse trouble in Iraq.
Their are two main problems with the article. Firstly, it tries to draw parallels between Iran in the mid-1990s and the current situation in Iran, even though the current regime is far more radical and is pursuing nuclear weapons. Secondly, it discusses potential risks of an attack on Iran without addressing the consequences of letting Iran obtain nuclear weapons.
This article in The New Republic (free registration required) should make it clear that the world cannot live with a nuclear Iran. Most of those who argue that we can learn to live with it compare the situation to the Cold War, when we lived with a hostile and nuclear USSR. But the situation is completely different. However evil the Soviets were, they still had an interest in avoiding a nuclear retaliation by the U.S., whereas the Iranian leadership is suicidal.
According to the TNR piece by Matthias KÃ? ?Ã? ¼ntzel:
Consider that, in December 2001, former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani explained that “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.” On the other hand, if Israel responded with its own nuclear weapons, it “will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.” Rafsanjani thus spelled out a macabre cost-benefit analysis. It might not be possible to destroy Israel without suffering retaliation. But, for Islam, the level of damage Israel could inflict is bearable–only 100,000 or so additional martyrs for Islam.
And Rafsanjani is a member of the moderate, pragmatic wing of the Iranian Revolution; he believes that any conflict ought to have a “worthwhile” outcome. Ahmadinejad, by contrast, is predisposed toward apocalyptic thinking. In one of his first TV interviews after being elected president, he enthused: “Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr’s death?”
There are certainly risks to taking military action against Iran. But letting them obtain a nuclear bomb should not be an option.