Thursday, April 20, 2006

That's Why He Gets Paid The Big Bucks

Actually, probably not big bucks (yet?), but whatever Matt Yglesias is getting, he's certainly earning it. He nails the Iran issue every which way possible in this article. Highly recommended. An extended teaser [emph. mine]:

[T]he big fear is supposed to be that Iran will launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike against Israel. The evidence for this is so weak that people feel the need to make stuff up. [ed note: sound familiar?] In The New Republic Daniel Jonah Goldhagen tried to make this case and had to clearly misinterpret something a former (yes, former) president of Iran said after he left office to do it....Jeffrey Bell once alleged in The Weekly Standard that Ahmadinejad “muses about the possibility of correcting that Nazi failure by dropping a nuclear bomb on Israel,” which never happened. I called him up and asked him about that, and he explained he was using “poetic license” (my understanding had always been that journalists, not actually being poets or fiction writers of any sort, didn’t have this license).

This aside, the idea that any Iranian leader would commit national suicide in order to harm Israel is ridiculous. Lots of “crazy” leaders -- Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Il -- have had nuclear weapons and they’ve never done anything like that. What’s more, if Iran wanted to start a war with Israel, kill a bunch of Jews, and get wiped out in the process they could do that with conventional weapons. But in more than 20 years in power, the Islamic Republic’s never done any such thing. Indeed, just over the weekend Iran announced it would offer up a paltry $50 million in aid to the new Hamas-ified Palestinian Authority compared with many hundreds of millions in funding the PA lost from Europe and the United States. Just as they taught me in Hebrew school, the Islamic world’s governments like to talk a big game about Israel, but don’t actually give a rat's ass about the issue and never have.

They’ll do anything to help the Palestinian cause unless it involves spending money, risking the stability of their own regimes, or deploying their military assets. Now we’re supposed to believe that, suddenly, the Mullahs are willing to guarantee their own destruction in order to turn the holy city of Jerusalem into a radioactive wasteland. That’s absurd.

Heh indeed to the twenty-fifth power.

Generally speaking, nuclear weapons are highly coveted, extremely expensive, rather difficult to obtain and require substantial commitments of a nation's time, energy, diplomatic guile and scientific brain power. The reason nations are willing to accept such daunting costs in pursuit of this goal is that nuclear weapons offer a unique and unrivaled means of securing a regimes hold on power, preventing foreign invasion, as well as increasing prestige, respect, power and influence in the respective home region.

The thought that regimes such as Iran - or even Iraq - would spend tens of billions of dollars, multiple decades and incur the economic/military wrath of major world powers in order to finally obtain one of these things only to go pop it off at the first opportunity in what would be self-inflicted national suicide of genocidal proportions is beyond "absurd."

It's a neo-con.

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