Re-Thinking the Iranian Nuclear Threat

Almost everyone seems to believe that Iran must be prevented at all costs from acquiring nuclear weapons. But, while every effort should be made to dissuade Iran from “going nuclear,” the floodgates to nuclear proliferation would not open if such efforts fail; a more likely outcome would be a “balance of terror” between Israel and Iran, as exists between India and Pakistan.

Would it be a great disaster if Iran had nuclear weapons? As a habitual contrarian, I pose the question because almost everyone seems to believe that it would, and that it must be prevented at all costs. But is that true?

John Bolton, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said in April that “if the choice is [Iran] continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you’re at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point.” Bush, too, has compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler.

But these so-called statesmen never consider what might have happened had Germany and Britain both had nuclear weapons in 1939. Would Hitler, wicked as he was, have gone to war had he faced an assured threat of total destruction? Have we forgotten all about the theory of deterrence?

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