23 May 2006

Nuclear Iran

Yglasias patiently explains why a war with Iran is a really bad idea.
with all due respect to those who correctly ascertained in advance that backing Bush’s march on Baghdad was insane, following the neoconservatives to Teheran would be far, far, far more insane
But wait, what about the Bomb? Isn't a nuclear-armed Iran bad news? Of course it is, says Matt, but let's not panic. They're just not going to nuke Jerusalem.
Just as they taught me in Hebrew school, the Islamic world’s governments like to talk a big game about Israel, but don’t actually give a rat's ass about the issue and never have.

They’ll do anything to help the Palestinian cause unless it involves spending money, risking the stability of their own regimes, or deploying their military assets. Now we’re supposed to believe that, suddenly, the Mullahs are willing to guarantee their own destruction in order to turn the holy city of Jerusalem into a radioactive wasteland. That’s absurd.

Of course, Billmon observes that a radioactive Jerusalem is actually a fulfillment of the apocalyptic fantasies of the folks in Bush's base who see it as the curtain-raiser for the Rapture.
Israel's national security elites don't seem to mind. From their point of view, who cares if Pat Robertson is bat shit crazy .... as long as it can be assumed with a high degree of certainty that the President of the United States doesn't share their maximum program — which, let's not forget, includes the destruction of Israel, even if it is for the greater glory of Christ.

Unfortunately, we can no longer make that assumption with the degree of conviction we would ordinarily like to have about the man with his finger on the button. To say that Bush is an emotionally unstable man under absolutely skull-crushing pressure isn't to say he's gone completely off the deep end and thinks God wants him to start the countdown to the Apocalpyse. But it's pretty hard to ignore the growing signs of megalomania ("I'm the decider, and I decide what's best.") We also know from his personal history that religion is Bush's crutch — his substitute of choice for the drugs of his youth. When a dry drunk who came to Jesus rather than seek treatment starts talking obsessively about protecting Israel from the Iranian Hitler, it seems reasonable to be worried, particularly when he has the world's largest military machine at his instant disposal.

Jim Henley, on the other hand, uses Yglasias' essay as a starting point to suggest a more prosaic description of how the motives and rhetoric of the Bush administration are likely to spiral our of control on this.
Just as the Bush Administration and its more straightforward freelance publicists in the hawkosphere said we needed to topple Saddam Hussein to show that we could, the same crowd may feel that we need to bomb Iran for the same reason. So they superheat a problem (for the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is that) into a crisis (which it is not).
And as Billmon observes in another terrifying post on the subject ...
a nuclear first strike on Iran would be the worst war crime imaginable, save for mass genocide
... which leads me to quote Ken MacLeod again:
You know how this stuff ends? It ends with your cities in rubble, your capital occupied, and your leaders hanged.
And God help us, we'd deserve it.

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