Friday, May 23, 2008

Mythmaking for the next war

Chicago Tribune

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious—that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did— John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Ft. Knox for a sack of magic beans.

Even if the Iranians would like to destroy Israel, they face a powerful disincentive: the prospect of radioactive incineration. The Tehran government has been intimidated by less. Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg writes in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine: "Iran agreed to a cease-fire in the war with Iraq once Iraqi missiles began falling on Tehran. The ayatollahs were willing to sacrifice soldiers—but not to pay a higher price." Even fanatics have their limits.

Nor would Iran be so irrational as to give nukes to a terrorist group. That would be the worst of both worlds—giving up control of those weapons, while inviting annihilation the moment they are put to use.

But there is no reasoning with McCain and his allies, who yearn for the simple clarity of the Cold War. If we don't have an enemy on the mammoth scale of the Soviet Union, they will take a pint-sized one, inflate it beyond recognition and pretend that military confrontation is the only way to deal with it.

That was how we got into the war in Iraq and how, under a McCain presidency, we are liable to end up in a war in Iran. If he's looking for reckless judgment, he should look in the mirror.

There's that 'judgment' word again. Nothing much to add, just go read the rest.

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