Monday, September 29, 2008

The Iran Question

Andrew Sullivan writes:

I'm increasingly of the view that the United States should think twice before giving Israel a green light to destroy Iran's nascent nuclear capacity.

Such an act in today's context would immediately pour gasoline on the Islamist fire, uniting Shia and Sunni in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and anti-Western fervor. It would recruit a generation of Islamist terrorists. It would risk a new and empowered alliance between Iran and Russia which has the nuclear know-how to give to Iran if it wants to. It might precipitate an Islamist take-over in Pakistan, which would give us an Islamist nuclear state overnight.

This is not to say that a nuclear Iran is not a horrifying prospect. But I don't believe that Iran's leadership truly wants to annihilate its entire population in a stand-off with the Zionists. Nuking Jerusalem is not something devout Islamists would easily countenance. But using the nuclear leverage to empower Hezbollah and Hamas is certainly a likely gambit.

Naturally, Sullivan thinks Obama is the right person to handle this tide of conflict that awaits the next President. McCain's "unsteadiness" disqualifies him, as does his abysmal choice of Sarah Palin.'

Lately I find myself agreeing more and more with this assessment. McCain's judgment call in picking Palin was so bad, I've begun seriously questioning his ability to lead.

I don't think it will be easy for either man to do the job. Each faces a plethora of security issues and evolving international relationships that seem to all be moving in the wrong direction for the U.S.

Good luck, whoever gets the job. It's not a position I envy in the least.

I doubt we'll hear anything truly substantive about the Iran question in the coming weeks unless Israel does indeed move against Tehran's nuclear program. The scale of this assault would largely be the determining factor in the ensuing Islamist reaction Sullivan notes above. A small scale attack a la the Syrian reactor would generate no noise at all; a full-fledged war a la Lebanon would probably result in global chaos.

~cross-posted at NeoConstant