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The True Reason US Fears Iranian Nukes: They Can Deter US Attacks

World  (tags: america, Iran, conflict, ethics, freedoms, government, israel, middle-east, politics, war, world )

- 2088 days ago -
"Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?" - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 12:35 pm
(picture from Common Dreams)

In the Washington Post today, Richard Cohen expresses surprise that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "starting to make some sense" and "wax rationally". Cohen specifically cites this statement from the Iranian president last week:

"Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?"

Cohen's surprise notwithstanding, numerous Iranian leaders, including Ahmadinejad, have long made the same point. And it's a point so obvious it should not even need to be made. No rational person takes seriously the claim that Iran, even if it did obtain a nuclear weapon, would commit instant and guaranteed national suicide by using it to attack a nation that has a huge nuclear stockpile, which happens to include both the US and Israel. One can locate nothing in the actions of Iran's regime that even suggests irrationality on that level, let alone suicidal impulses.

"That Iran will use its nuclear weapons against the US and Israel is rather obviously the centerpiece of the fear-mongering campaign against Tehran, to build popular support for threats to launch an aggressive attack in order to prevent them from acquiring that weapon. So what, then, is the real reason that so many people in both the US and Israeli governments are so desperate to stop Iranian proliferation?"

Every now and then, they reveal the real reason: Iranian nuclear weapons would prevent the US from attacking Iran at will, and that is what is intolerable. The latest person to unwittingly reveal the real reason for viewing an Iranian nuclear capacity as unacceptable was GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the US's most reliable and bloodthirsty warmongers.

On Monday, Graham spoke in North Augusta, South Carolina, and was asked about the way in which sanctions were harming ordinary Iranians. Ayman Hossam Fadel was present and recorded the exchange. Answering that question, Graham praised President Obama for threatening Iran with war over nuclear weapons, decreed that "the Iranian people should be willing to suffer now for a better future," and then – invoking the trite neocon script that is hauled out whenever new wars are being justified – analogized Iranian nukes to Hitler in the 1930s. But in the middle of his answer, he explained the real reason Iranian nuclear weapons should be feared:

"They have two goals: one, regime survival. The best way for the regime surviving, in their mind, is having a nuclear weapon, because when you have a nuclear weapon, nobody attacks you."

Graham added that the second regime goal is "influence", that "people listen to you" when you have a nuclear weapon. In other words, we cannot let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because if they get them, we can no longer attack them when we want to and can no longer bully them in their own region.

Graham's answer is consistent with what various American policy elites have said over the years about America's enemies generally and Iran specifically: the true threat of nuclear proliferation is that it can deter American aggression. Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute and the New American Century Project has long been crystal clear that this is the real reason for opposing Iranian nuclear capability [my emphasis]:

"When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent regardless of the balance of conventional forces … In the post cold war era, America and its allies, rather than the Soviet Union, have become the primary objects of deterrence and it is states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea who most wish to develop deterrent capabilities."

He added:

"The surest deterrent to American action is a functioning nuclear arsenal …

"To be sure, the prospect of a nuclear Iran is a nightmare. But it is less a nightmare because of the high likelihood that Tehran would employ its weapons or pass them on to terrorist groups – although that is not beyond the realm of possibility – and more because of the constraining effect it threatens to impose upon US strategy for the greater Middle East. The danger is that Iran will 'extend' its deterrence, either directly or de facto, to a variety of states and other actors throughout the region. This would be an ironic echo of the extended deterrence thought to apply to US allies during the cold war."

As Jonathan Schwarz has extensively documented, this is what US policy elites have said over and over. In 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned:

"Several of these [small enemy nations] are intensely hostile to the United States and are arming to deter us from bringing our conventional or nuclear power to bear in a regional crisis."

In 2002, State Department official Philip Zelikow said that if Iraq were permitted to keep its WMDs, "they now can deter us from attacking them, because they really can retaliate against us." In 2008, Democratic Senator Chuck Robb and GOP Senator Dan Coates wrote an incredibly hawkish Washington Post op-ed all but demanding an attack on Iran, and wrote:

"[A]n Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be strategically untenable. It would threaten U.S. national security … While a nuclear attack is the worst-case scenario, Iran would not need to employ a nuclear arsenal to threaten US interests. Simply obtaining the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent."

The No 1 concern of American national security planners appears to be that countries may be able to prevent the US from attacking them at will, whether to change their regimes or achieve other objectives. In other words, Iranian nuclear weapons could be used to prevent wars – ones started by the US – and that, above all, is what we must fear.

(Graham's questioner said that she believed Iran was not committed to developing a nuclear weapon, and Graham responded that Israeli leaders had reached the opposite conclusion. That is simply false.)

Whatever one thinks of Iran, the signal the US has sent to the world is unmistakable: any rational government should acquire nuclear weapons. The Iranians undoubtedly watched the US treatment of two dictators who gave up their quest for nuclear weapons – Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi – and drew the only reasoned lesson: the only way a country can protect itself from US attack, other than full-scale obeisance, is to acquire nuclear weapons. That is precisely why the US and Israel are so eager to ensure they do not.

by Glenn Greenwald | Common Dreams |

JL A (281)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 1:40 pm
"Iranian nuclear weapons would prevent the US from attacking Iran at will, and that is what is intolerable. The latest person to unwittingly reveal the real reason for viewing an Iranian nuclear capacity as unacceptable was GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the US's most reliable and bloodthirsty warmongers." Doesn't this rhetoric echo the language of the warmongers and those who lead us to this military-industrial state during the Cold War?

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 5:09 pm
Noted. The greedy fearmongers like wars because of all the war profiteering, which is suppose to be treasonous---but, I guess when Cheney's Halliburton & KBR were profiting to the tune of billions, that became a moot point.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 5:13 pm

All wars have war profiteers, and in the US it's almost a patriotic to be a war profiteer.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 5:28 pm
Noted. Thanks.

Nikolas K (94)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 6:08 am
The perceived fear of the American state department is just a false flag to facilitate the support of the American people and the EU to start ww3 to enable the final establishment of total enslavement of this planet unless we wake up and start learning the lessons of whats been happening so far.

S M (0)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 9:14 am
Green star to Kit B. and others saying the same.

Plus I add, it is plainly hypocritical to tell others with none they cannot have when you have, not just one but thousands. ... so why should you be listened to?

Past Member (0)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 9:50 am
Given the rising tensions between Syria and Turkey today, we may find ourselves in something resembling a Cold-War era conflict. China didn't want to fight us directly, so they used North Korea as their front man. Likewise, the Soviets didn't want to fight us directly, so they used North Vietnam as the front man. Iran does not want direct confrontation with the U.S., but it may be willing to use Syria as its front man.

That being said, the US has been at war in the Middle East for some time, using Israel as its front. And, it is absolutely true, no matter who fights whom, American weapons manufacturers always seem to win.

Kit B (276)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 10:11 am

I would disagree with part of that, Brian. Korea, like Vietnam was far more about some old generals still wanting to take a shot at gaining more influence and territory in Asia then a conflict directly or indirectly with China.
When NATO was still significant, Israel provided a buffer, now NATO has far less meaning, or need as far as nuclear confrontation with the Russians.

Past Member (0)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 10:18 am
I'm not sure we actually disagree, so much as we may be approaching the same consensus from different directions.

Kit B (276)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 10:37 am

Very possibly true, Brian.

Kenneth L (314)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 1:09 pm
The only glitch in this concept is if the person in charge is not rational.. I realized once that anyone can say anything. A child killer can be completely capable of saying things to a child like "I'm your friend. I wouldn't hurt you. I wouldn't harm a fly. I love children. Would I give you candy or a puppy if I was a bad person? On and on, it's sickening, yet true.. Perfectly reasonable sounding and convincing. Though Hitler is a tired cliche, how could a person subject his own people to millions of them dying to 'achieve' his personal goals through his actions of invading and conquer the world for some ideology? One can say anything. Actions are more important and can be entirley different from words..

Tom Edgar (56)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 4:26 pm
The main aim is to maintain the Atomic weapons superiority in the region, currently held (illegally)by Israel. Should ANY other adjacent nation also be armed Israel's dominance would be negated, Israel might even have to give back the stolen property to their rightful owners, when, once again, Greater Palestine would become a multi religious and not a singular Theocratic aligned nation.

Ira Herson (13)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 5:54 pm
So I guess the Iranian statement that there is no intention of having a nuclear weapons program is a lie. I think the statement that they now have to enrich their uranium to 90% for fuel for their subs is the only reason they need to have more plutonium. The continuous rhetoric that Israel should be wiped out is just so much hot air.

So President Ahmadinejad says one time that it would be foolish to attack the USA and Israel using their "one Bomb" is a sign of rationality.

It means nothing that in the last week Hamas and Iran signed a mutual war plan against Israel?

Yes war is the refuge of incompetent politicians and greedy warmongers. The USA has both. However this is not an exclusive club. The Iranians have their membership well and truly represented.

Aletta Kraan (146)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 6:34 pm
Noted !!!

Past Member (0)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 8:15 pm
Brian ..."I'm not sure we actually disagree, so much as we may be approaching the same consensus from different directions". ..I must say I have been reading alot more than posting today. In regards to this post ,your comment makes alot of sense. Two people can indeed look at something differently but in the end still come to the same conclusion.
Thanks for the post Kit
And Kenneth I see some truth in what you said.

M B (62)
Friday October 5, 2012, 3:41 pm
I think Israel and the U.S. are not superior to Iran. Do they really want to make us believe that their nukes are "good", and the Iranian's is "bad" ?? That's so hypocrite. We know that Israel wants the U.S. to be her me this is pretty dangerous !

Gloria H (88)
Saturday October 6, 2012, 8:22 am
I would feel safer in a world where NO ONE had nukes. If I was incenarated in a nuke "attack", would I ca,re if the US struck back?...hell no, I'd be dead! If Ireland, Iran, China, Zimbabwe dropped a bomb would it matter? I'd STILL be dead.
We are ALL gonna die no matter how much youthful plastic surgeries, donor parts and pieces, fiber or donuts ingested or avoided.
How about no man's lands areas loaded with landmines, unfarmable for winner or loser, vets and civilians, legless, minds ravaged by sights no one should ever experience.
When are all sides going to put away the toys of war? when the sun grows cold and flickers out?

Paulo R (13)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 10:17 pm
Iran will not stop their nuclear weapons program and Israel will certainly bomb Iran for it. It is not a question of if but when. Actually, I’m surprised they have waited this long. Israel has bombed both Iraq and Syria in the past. “Operation Opera” was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on 7 June 1981, that destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction 17 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. “Operation Orchard” was an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria carried out just after midnight (local time) on September 6, 2007. Arab reaction to both incidents was slim, also known as the "synchronized silence of the Arab world." Outside experts and media commentators have filled the data vacuum by offering their own diverse interpretations about what precisely happened. Western commentators took the position that the lack of official non-Arab condemnations of Israel's action, threats of retaliation against Israel, or even professions of support for the Iraqi and Syrian government or people must imply that their governments tacitly supported the Israeli action. Even Iranian officials have not formally commented on the Israeli attacks.
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