Iran's Nukes Are Not Just about Israel

(Slate) Christopher Hitchens - I have lost count of the number of essays and columns speculating about an Israeli "first strike" on Iran's covert but ever-more-flagrant nuclear weapons installations. The whole emphasis on Israel's salience in this matter, and of the related idea of subcontracting a strike to the Israel Defense Forces, is an evasion, somewhat ethnically tinged, of what is an international responsibility. If the Iranian dictatorship succeeds in "breaking out" and becoming a nuclear power, the following things will have happened: International law and the stewardship of the United Nations will have been irretrievably ruined. The "Revolutionary Guards," who last year shot and raped their way to near-absolute power in Iran, are also the guardians of the underground weapons program. A successful consummation of that program would be an immeasurable enhancement of the most aggressive faction of the current dictatorship. The power of the guards to project violence outside Iran's borders would likewise be increased. Any Hizbullah subversion of Lebanese democracy, any Iranian collusion with the Taliban or with nihilist forces in Iraq, would be harder to counter. The same powerful strategic ambiguity would apply in the case of any Iranian move on a neighboring Sunni Arab Gulf state, such as Bahrain. There will never be a settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute, because the rejectionist Palestinians will be even more a proxy of a regime that calls for Israel's elimination. The concept of "nonproliferation," so dear to the heart of the right-thinking, will go straight into the history books along with the League of Nations.

2010-08-20 08:57:43

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