Question of the Day: Who are we to tell Iran (or any country) that they can’t have nuclear weapons?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

For the record, I find nuclear weapons, for any imaginable purpose, including self-defense, to be abhorrent. I don’t want there to be nuclear weapons, and I certainly don’t want Iran to have them for all the obvious reasons.

My problem with the repeated demands we have made has to do with the integrity of our position. My rule about telling other countries what to do is simple. Don’t expect them to acquiesce to demands that we wouldn’t agree to ourselves.

What is the source or our moral authority? We’re the one nation in history ever to use nuclear weapons. To this day, we have a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons – on land, in the air and at sea – fully capable of end-of-species level deployment.

Basically, our argument comes down to this. We – the United States, some of our close allies, Russia and China – can have nuclear weapons either because we’re superior to Iran and/or because none of us is willing to destroy our own nuclear weapons capabilities or has the power to make the others among us stand down. By “superior” we mean that we believe ourselves to be more civilized and more stable, politically, and therefore less prone to use these weapons ourselves and less likely to let them fall into the hands of those who would. I agree, as a matter of opinion, and fact, but not as a basis for using sanctions and, if necessary, military force against the allegedly inferior nation if it doesn’t comply.

Am I being overly intellectual about a matter of life and death? About a real, tangible threat? No. I am making a fundamental argument to the effect that, as long as we use force or the threat of it to push other countries around, the need to do so will continue unabated. We either have the courage to lead by example, or confirm the fears of our opponents and encourage their negative attitudes and violent behavior toward us. Better to help the peoples of troubled nations, to earn their respect and cooperation, than punish them for doing nothing more than aspiring to act like we do.

If we were Iran, we’d be telling the United States to go screw itself. Put another way, suppose Iran were to tell us that it would discontinue nuclear weapons development if we destroyed our stockpiles of weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials? Does anybody reading this believe for a minute that we would make that deal, even if it was enforceable?

Is anybody in The White House or UN asking Israel, no friend of Iran, to dispose of its nuclear weapons capabilities?

The very fact that we make such a demand of Iran encourages their animosity. “Just who in the hell do we think we are?” I can hear them thinking, and with good reason. More to the point, what are we going to do if they don’t comply? Nuke ‘em? Wouldn’t that be ironic?

By the way, at the risk of sounding profoundly, even dangerously humane, what if they or someone to whom they gave their nuclear weapons technology were to explode a device, here, somewhere, killing who knows how many people? What’s our response? Are we seriously going to use our own nuclear weapons back at them? Com’on. What rationale is there for us to have these weapons? …and if we can’t think of one, and yet we still have them, on what basis can we argue that they can’t?

I thought we’d become too civilized to subscribe to the old bullsh*t Cold War arguments. Guess not.


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5 responses to “Question of the Day: Who are we to tell Iran (or any country) that they can’t have nuclear weapons?

    • And if we’d done more, sooner along the lines of what you suggest in your post (“Too little, too late.”), what would that have accomplished?


  1. Peter Reynolds

    If we had been tougher to begin with it would have been easier to stop them. “They” being the lunatics that run Iran. The closer they get to their objective the more difficult it will be to stop them.

  2. Rather than threatening force or imposing what I’ll call “negative incentives” (sanctions), would you consider the more constructive alternative of helping to build the Iranian economy to the point of its new class of entrepreneurs and other gainfully employed citizens no longer tolerating a nutball government? -wf

  3. Peter Reynolds

    Sure.I’ll go along with any strategy tthat has a chance of success, ie can give Iran back to the Iranians

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