Thursday, May 18, 2006


Why Iran is nowhere near the top of my list of "Our Problems"

Today a news item from BBC appears to further reinforce my view that there are a lot of other things we should worry before we start worrying about Iran. (Not that we should forget about it altogether.) But I will start chronologically on how I reached that view.

The May 2006 issue of COMMENTARY (a "neocon" magazine) had an article by Edward N. Luttwak "Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran—Yet". (The author is not opposed to bombing in principle.) The first reason the article offers is that by bombing we will alienate the majority of Iranians who are oppressed by the current regime. This is quite a strong reason but someone could argue that Iranians may still love us even after we kill a lot of them during the bombing. However there is no such "escape" from Luttwak's arguments on the other two reasons and I quote them below with my own comments following.

"There is a second good reason not to act precipitously. In essence, we should not bomb Iran because the worst of its leaders positively want to be bombed—and are doing their level best to bring that about."

Indeed it seems that Ahmadinejad is deliberately pushing for a confrontation, as means of diverting the attention of his people from their misery. Otherwise there is no rational explanation for advertising the existence of the "hidden" program. I remember any time the economy would sour in Greece or Turkey, there would be a "national" crisis, often a dispute of some forsaken rock in the Aegean. (And those you who have read 1984 will remember the comments about constant war.)

"There is a third reason, too. The effort to build nuclear weapons started more than three decades ago, yet the regime is still years away from producing a bomb. ... What undermines confidence in Ahmadinejad’s opinion is his rather expansive way with the facts, including his repeated assertion that the centrifuge technology was developed by Iranians in Iran and is “the proud achievement of the Iranian nation”—somehow overlooking the 99.99 percent of it that was purchased from A.Q. Khan."

That seems an excellent point and it "rings a bell". I recall from my service in the Greek Army (almost 50 years ago) how the modern technology given by the U.S. was abused and misused. I forget the numbers, but often only 10% or less of the equipment would be functional.

Today's BBC article seems to give further evidence in favor of Luttwak's third argument.

"Western diplomatic sources told the BBC the material used in Iran's recent uranium enrichment experiments probably came from materials supplied (by China) in 1991. That was before China joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and before it was bound by its export controls. "

In short, it may be many years (if ever) before the Iran nuclear threat is real. In the meantime other factors may damage our country far more seriously.

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