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The Obsession with Iran Continues

Leading the (rhetorical) charge against Tehran at The Corner, Stanley Kurtz points us to this amazing agitprop:

All the reasons for invading Iraq apply doubly to Iran, and with far greater urgency. Iran right now poses the imminent threat to America which Iraq did not in 2003. Iran may already have some nuclear weapons, purchased from North Korea or made with materials acquired from North Korea, which would increase its threat to us from imminent to direct and immediate. ~Thomas Holsinger, Winds of Change

The flippant reply is that the invasion of Iraq has scuppered the possibility of even thinking of doing the same against Iran, but I think we can do better than that. The key mistake that doomed opposition to the Iraq war was the concession by opponents that Iraq posed any kind of a threat to the United States at all. This was untrue in every sense of the word. Iraq was about as much of a threat to American security in 2003 as Burma, and probably less. Iran could make the government's life very difficult in the Near East if it so chose, but even with nuclear weapons it is not even as "direct and immediate" a threat to the United States as Pakistan is today. In Pakistan it is conceivably a much shorter path to al-Qaeda itself acquiring nuclear weapons, as some ties between the ISI, the Taliban and al-Qaeda remain in spite of all official statements to the contrary. In the less-than-worst-case scenario, Musharraf is toppled and a radical faction from within the military takes over, one that is friendly to the Taliban and keen to resume conflict with India over Kashmir. Iran is the natural enemy of all these forces, and so should be considered (if we were actually making policy in our real national interest) as prospective ally, not a prospective target.

In Washington, Pakistan is considered for various reasons, some reasonable and most not, to be on par with our NATO allies, so it seems only reasonable that we could avoid a war with the Iranians, when their nuclear program poses less of a threat to us. As long as opponents of a strike against Iran grant that Iran threatens the United States in any meaningful way, the jingoes will, just as they did three years ago, retain the initiative and "win" the argument by having defined all of the terms and predetermined the outcome of the debate. There is a certain twisted logic that runs from the false assumption that Iran is a threat to the conclusion that "Iran must be stopped." The entire edifice could be brought tumbling down by the refusal to accept the patently false assumption.

Daniel Larison | January 20, 2006


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