Iran containment redux: ignore the ignorant

Hamed Saber (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamed/237790717)

I can never figure out why people want to write about things they haven’t read. Wait, let me amend that. I can never figure out why people who wish to be taken seriously write about things they haven’t read. Here’s an especially fragrant post entitled “Ignore the Hawks” from our compatriots over at CATO@Liberty.

A recent report that I coauthored with my colleagues Tom Donnelly and Maseh Zarif has occasioned a mini-storm of cant, most of it from the far Left (and its echo chambers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps). The report, Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran, is a thorough examination of the notion that containment will be a manageable affair, and takes no position on whether a military strike is a good idea, or whether containment itself should be the strategy the world embraces once Iran gets the bomb.

But enough of the report. After all, why read it (57 pages!), when you can nimbly move on to… the Iraq War (I suggested “Saddam’s entire Ba’athist government should be replaced”) and new certitudes about when Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon. After all, the non-profit (um, what are we?) Arms Control Association says “a nuclear armed Iran is still not imminent.”

So again, in the interest of comity among, er, non-profits, allow me to quibble.

•    Experts, including inside the Obama administration, agree that should Iran wish to do so, it will have enough fissile material and the know-how to assemble a nuclear weapon within a year. Those who argue it is neither imminent nor inevitable predicate that argument solely upon Iran’s intention to build a weapon. If that’s the case, then it would be more intellectually honest to suggest that Iran may not itself decide to build such a weapon within a year. Can’t disagree with that.

•    If there are those who wish to take the pro-Baathist line, be my guest.

•    I did repeatedly argue for the ouster of Saddam Hussein and I would do it again. PS, I also argue for the ouster of Bashar el Assad, in case any of you want to mention that. PPS, I’d also like to see the regime in Iran replaced.

Really, read the report. Learn something, and then comment on its actual contents. AEI always welcomes serious debate.

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