Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Nuclear Iran?

Iran's nuclear development program is proceding apace. The Iranians claim that their program is directed solely toward developing nuclear power capabilities. There may be some truth to that claim; the country imports gasoline even though it is a major exporter of petroleum. The rest of the world thinks that Iran is slowly but surely developing the capability of producing nuclear bombs. The only disagreement in the rest of the world is over the question, is Iran with nuclear weapons an existential threat or merely a nuisance? Perhaps the truth lies between those extremes.

Israel certainly views a nuclear Iran as a threat to its very existence. The political leaders of Iran all give at least lip service to the notion that Israel ought not exist, certainly not as a Jewish state in the midst of the Muslim world. To the extent that American foreign policy is directed toward unconditional support and defense of whatever government Israel chooses, Iran with nukes is regarded as a serious threat to the United States.

Iran with nukes is also evidence of the mistake of the American claim of special or exceptional virtues. We are better than other countries; we would never use nuclear weapons to attack another country; we can be trusted not to start wars or to do other dishonest and destructive things. In short, America is exceptional and should not be bound by the limits placed on all other nations. It's all right for America to have a huge nuclear arsenal. It's wrong for Iran to have even one nuclear weapon. This notion of American exceptionalism is so obviously self-serving and hypocritical that countries like Iran, North Korea, and others justify their own progress toward creating nuclear arsenals on what America does, not on what America says. For example, only one nation has ever used a nuclear weapon during a war. Do you remember what nation that was? The Japanese do.

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