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Published on November 17th, 2011 | by Jasmin Ramsey

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The Daily Talking Points

News and views related to U.S.-Iran relations for Nov. 11 – Nov. 15

Salon: Jordan Michael Smith argues that while nuclear non-proliferation is preferred, a nuclear Iran wouldn’t be the end of the world. One reason why:

…the Islamic regime in Iran has not invaded a single other country, instead relying only on the low-risk strategy of supporting proxy groups like Hezbollah. According to the prizewinning book “Treacherous Alliance,” by Iranian-born scholar Trita Parsi, Iran also had extensive dealings with its sworn opponent, Israel, throughout the 1980s. If the religious extremists who lead Iran are prepared to commit national suicide, they have never displayed it. Just the opposite, in fact. They have shown they prize survival above all else.

Guardian: An unsigned editorial takes Smith’s argument further, stating that instead of  focusing on the “lost cause of what can be done to impede Iran’s nuclear efforts,” governments should be considering “how a nuclear-capable Iran will fit into the Middle Eastern security landscape”:

It does not do to be Panglossian about nuclear weapons. Any spread of them is dangerous, and arguments that they sometimes buttress security are vulnerable to the counter that they only have to be proved wrong once. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is flawed, yet there is no case for discarding it. But we surely have passed the point where the risk represented by Iranian weapons can be eliminated. The priority must be to contain it, to set what rules can be set, and to prepare to live with it.

Huffington Post: M. J. Rosenberg charts the battle between stalwart pro-Israel Democrats, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, to out-hawk each other on Iran, this time by arguing for legislation that would prevent the president from permitting the inspection and repair of U.S.-manufactured engines on Iranian civilian aircraft. As Rosenberg notes, this would “almost surely lead to the deaths of innocent and random Iranian and Iranian-American men, women and children”.

National Journal: All of of the National Journal’s 43 national security “insiders” polled said that a unilateral US strike against Iran would be a bad idea and 52% said no military strike should be carried out.

Reuters: Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal agreed with Israeli and U.S. security elite when he said in Washington that a military attack on Iran would have “catastrophic consequences”:

“If anything it will only make the Iranians more determined to produce an atomic bomb. It will rally support for the government among the population, and it will not end the program. It will merely delay it if anything.”

Washington Times: Several hawkish analysts predict the devastating ways Iran would retaliate to a military strike and agree that strikes are unlikely to slow down any alleged nuclear programs by much. While some of the responses are simply alarmist and have no basis in facts (John Pike: “[Iran] would infiltrate commandos across the Mexican border and blow up elementary schools in Iowa”), others line up with what moderate analysts have said about Iran retaliating against Israel through its proxies and shutting down the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of all the world’s oil moves.

U.S. News: Bush administration hawk Jamie M. Fly declares that the U.S. should not “outsource” the “problem” of Iran to Israel (as though the U.S.’s problem with Iran has nothing to do with Israel) and attack Iran (at the end of his piece are two articles by infamous MEK lobbyists, Alireza Jafarzadeh and Raymond Tanter, arguing that the U.S. should be more actively pursing regime change):

America cannot shirk its responsibility when it comes to Iran. To so would be irresponsible and dangerous. Military action should be the last resort, but increasingly appears to be the only option that will prevent a nuclear Iran.

New York Times: Roger Cohen says that Iran’s nuclear ambitions can be halted by containing and constraining it. As Gary Sick notes, his sharpest observation comes at the very end:

Iran, more unpredictable than the Soviet Union, can be stopped short of a bomb through measures short of military action. What is needed is a contain-and-constrain policy. Contain Iran through beefed-up Israeli and Gulf defenses, a process underway. Constrain it to circle in its current nuclear ambiguity through covert undermining (Stuxnet 2.0, etc.), tough measures to block its access to hard currency, and, as a last resort, a “quarantine” similar to John Kennedy’s interdiction of shipping to Cuba during the missile crisis.

How you judge patience depends on how you judge time. Time is not on the Islamic Republic’s side.

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One Response to The Daily Talking Points

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  1. avatar scottindallas says:

    “It does not do to be Panglossian about nuclear weapons. Any spread of them is dangerous, and arguments that they sometimes buttress security are vulnerable to the counter that they only have to be proved wrong once.”

    Funny argument from people who support the 2nd Amendment. I support the second Amendment, and am not alarmed by Nukes.


About the Author

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Jasmin Ramsey is an Iranian-born journalist based in Washington, DC.



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