Tehran's Nuclear Endgame

(National Review) Michael Rubin - Qaddafi's rule might be crumbling, but the colonel refuses to quit. On the evening of August 23, Qaddafi loyalists launched Scuds at the rebel-run town of Misrata. The missile strikes will be a footnote to the last days of the Transitional National Council's struggle to unseat Qaddafi, but Western policymakers should not ignore them, for reasons that have less to do with Libya and far more with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a case where regime collapse is inevitable, assumptions that the regime will act to moderate its own behavior become moot. When Qaddafi recognized his hours were numbered, he launched Scud missiles at his own people. What might the Revolutionary Guards do in a parallel situation? Ideological hatred toward the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia may be rhetorical among many Iranians, but for those in the Qods Force or other elite units, the embrace of ideology is sincere. While they might not normally be suicidal, if they believe the regime and perhaps their lives are over regardless of their actions, why not make good on the ideological goal and launch a nuclear weapon against external enemies? Qaddafi's last stand should provide a wake-up call for those who wish to tie American national security to deterrence. Placing a bet on a nuclear Islamic Republic's desire for self-preservation discounts two important factors: The determination of the Iranian people to be free, and the ideological sincerity of the small elite whose fingers would be on the nuclear button.

2011-08-26 00:00:00

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