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The Green Lantern Theory on Geopolitics

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Matt Yglesias responds to Reuel Marc Gerecht’s argument for bombing Iran. Gerecht says:

Although Iran’s growing democratic culture is unlikely to be stopped, and it’s pro-American disposition is unlikely to change unless Washington goes Scowcroftian and seeks to placate Tehran, a militant, dictatorial Islam remains strong among the country’s ruling elite. Unless the unexpected happens—some internal or external shock convulses and cripples the clerical system—the mullahs will surely get the bomb long before the people get a real democracy.

His concern for Iran’s pro-American democratic culture is touching. It’s also comforting to know that he has the best intentions at heart for Iran’s civilian population:

It seems unthinkable that the United States would, for example, unleash any massive military strike against Iran that would kill thousands of innocent Iranians for the terrorism of its dictatorial leadership.

There are those in Iraq and Afghanistan who disagree. But regardless, after a few paragraphs of deep consideration, Gerecht reluctantly concludes that bombing Iran’s nuclear sites is a burden we must bear.

Yes, it will be difficult to bomb all of the sites in Iran, but the most critical are well known—Natanz, Isfahan, Arak, Tehran, and Bushehr. These facilities took the Iranians years to build under ideal circumstances. Under siege, building new sites clandestinely will be a demanding, time-consuming task. The issue isn’t feasibility, but the determination to strike whenever required since the assessment of risk does not allow any other course of action.

US intelligence and the IAEA have concluded that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Studies also cast serious doubt about the chances of success on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Considering the very risky stakes of his proposal, Gerecht also conveniently ignores the prospect of an Iranian retaliation which, after all, is quite probable after a massive bombing of its cities (especially if the “clerical regime” is half as irrational as Gerecht claims). The implications of instigating such a retaliation with the potential to quickly escalate the conflict into a potential humanitarian, political and economic catastrophe is missing from Gerecht’s argument.

It’s important to note that a city like Isfahan has a population of close to 2 million people who are vulnerable to any bombing of the city’s nuclear energy plants. Not sure how all of that will fare with Iran’s pro-American democratic culture…

Irancove @ August 12, 2008

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