Saturday, March 18, 2006

Suppose We Just Let Iran Have the Bomb

David Sanger in the "Weekend Review" part of the Times has a long think piece about Iran getting the bomb. He quotes all the realists, but never discusses the "Salafi Jihadist" of the problem.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S message to Iran these days sounds unambiguous: The United States will do what it takes to keep the mullahs from getting the bomb. Diplomacy is vastly preferred, President Bush and his aides insist. Yet it was no accident that the just-revised National Security Strategy declares: "This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

To nervous allies, those words echo the run-up to the Iraq invasion, which began three years ago today. But Iran is not Iraq. And some experts in the United States — mostly outside the administration — have been thinking the unthinkable, or at least the undiscussable: If all other options are worse, could the world learn to live with a nuclear Iran?

"The reality is that most of us think the Iranians are probably going to get a weapon, or the technology to make one, sooner or later," an administration official acknowledged a few weeks ago, refusing to talk on the record because such an admission amounts to a concession that dragging Iran in front of the United Nations Security Council may prove an exercise in futility. "The optimists around here just hope we can delay the day by 10 or 20 years, and that by that time we'll have a different relationship with a different Iranian government."
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The Iranians are betting that this confrontation — what Graham Allison, a nuclear expert at Harvard, calls a "slow motion Cuban missile crisis" — has a good chance of coming out the same way. If so, the problem may go beyond Iran.

"Remember, Iran is just one instance of the problem, and in Iran's case, containment might work," says Brent Scowcroft, who was the national security adviser to Mr. Bush's father. "But if that happens, I think we are on the way to a world of proliferation like we have not seen before."

Rest here

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