It’s the Regime, Stupid: Missing the Point on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 6 months ago

Here are the key, closing paragraphs of an opinion piece by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in The Washington Post on March 5, 2012:

As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute. I will demonstrate our commitment to the world by making Jerusalem the destination of my first foreign trip.

Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution.

I am not seeking to pick on Mitt Romney.  Rather, his approach to the obvious Iranian drive for nuclear weapons is emblematic of a far wider phenomenon.   As James Carville so succinctly pointed out, the 1992 presidential campaign primarily turned upon the economy and not national security (“the economy, stupid”).   It must be pointed out (repeatedly) in this context that the primary issue is not the development of nuclear weapons per se but the nature of those who would control such weapons.  In short, It’s the Regime, Stupid.

It is a fool’s errand to simply “check the evil regime” or “persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.”   This is akin to persuading water to flow uphill.   The Iranian Regime seeks nuclear weapons because they rightly surmise that possession of such weapons provides them with the same kind of invulnerability that has allowed a succession of dictators in North Korea from being threatened by the West.   No amount of sanctions or finger-wagging or diplomacy will convince them otherwise.

We must face the fact that the nuclear genie is already out of the bottle when it comes to Iran.   They have the scientists and industrial resources right now to re-build or re-constitute their nuclear program even if the U.S. and/or Israel successfully destroyed the present facilities.   According to the German newspaper, Die Welt, the Iranians have already successfully tested a uranium nuclear device under cover in North Korea.

This is not to say that the United States should throw up its hands and accept the inevitable.   By all means, preventing the Regime from advancing further and producing multiple devices in the near future is an imperative.   But it is simply not enough.   As Jamie Fly and Gary Schmitt argue in Foreign Affairs :

The Obama administration has avoided the choice between a military operation and a nuclear Iran — relying on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Iran has not made the final decision to develop a weapon. But if history is any guide, its faith in receiving any intelligence to the contrary in a timely and unambiguous way is misplaced. Kroenig is correct then to argue that a military strike should be in the cards. But he is wrong to suggest that a limited strike is the only one that should be on the table. If strikes are chosen, it would be far better to put the regime at risk than to leave it wounded but still nuclear capable and ready to fight another day.

But even beyond this view, the real hope— the only hope, really– is that the Iranian people will reject the militant Islamist policies of the Regime and return the country to its pro-Western, democratic norm.   If an open, pro-Western government is installed in Tehran, the fears and difficulties associated with nuclear weapons dissipate.   In the end, it is already too late to keep Iran from possessing nuclear weapons if they truly want them.   We can only ensure that those possessing such weapons are at least as unlikely as India to use them for nefarious ends.   The 21st Century, in fact, will largely be about not only preventing the spread of nuclear weapons but, perhaps more than anything, about ensuring that dangerous regimes who seek them are toppled quickly and remorselessly.

  • http://www.afn.org/~govern/pigs.html OCBill

    So one might conclude that it’s more efficient to stomp on the centipede’s head than to try to shackle each of its feet?

    In other words, does Israel really need to destroy all of Iran’s dispersed nuclear facilities, or is there a simpler way, a way with consequences not radically different than an attack on widely dispersed nuclear facilities?

  • TS Alfabet

    Good analogy with the centipede, OC.

    The article in Foreign Affairs takes the position that any strike against the Regime’s nuke facilities also include strikes against Regime command/control elements. Are you suggesting a strike *only* against the Regime command/control in lieu of the nuke sites?

    As to Israel specifically, the argument is often raised that Israel should not bother to strike the Regime’s nuke facilities because it cannot hope to destroy all of them and/or any strike will not eliminate the nuke program but only delay it for some number of years. This misses the point as well. The overriding goal towards Iran must always be toppling the Islamofascist regime. Any action that can buy more time to topple the Regime is worthwhile.

  • http://www.firstcontactproject.org/ Warbucks

    “the only hope, really– is that the Iranian people will reject the militant Islamist policies of the Regime and return the country to its pro-Western, democratic norm.”….

    There are late indications The White Hats are winning, and the NWO’s bankers are being brought down. Arrests and banking resignations in the CEO ranks are being made by the dozens, world wide.

    These arrests and retirements are starting to hit the mainstream media. Timothy Geithner “questioned” by New York Police and released.

    A new monetary system and central bank systems has been designed and is being subscribed to by most of the world powers to replace the privately owned Federal Reserve system, which has been dominated by foreign ownership.

    The game has been world domination by a one world government over the past 2000 years for the benefit of the few.

    The playing field is undergoing a leveling.

    http://tinyurl.com/25u8emf

    By the end of March the rest of the OWO bankers will be politely retired. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany had agreed to a new round of nuclear talks with Iran.

    The White Hats have to win this one.

  • Charlotte

    Missing from this piece is the reality that Israel has amassed a nuclear arsenal (+/-300 nuclear warheads) against international law and treaty. Israel is effectively in the same rogue status as N. Korea. To claim the only reason Iran would want a nuclear weapon is akin to N. Korea’s probable motivation is an error. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon then Israel would be forced into the unassailable position of “mutually assured destruction” a doctrine well known in the cold war and often applauded as the reason no nuclear weapons have been used beyond Japan in WWII.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Yes, you’re on to something, Charlotte. I had forgotten about all of those times Israel threatened global conflagration and issued warnings that they would wipe Iran off of the map and enforce global Jewish rule on the Arab states, with the equivalent of a Caliphate across the world.

    Oh … wait … nevermind.

  • TS Alfabet

    @Charlotte:

    Actually, Israel is not in violation of any int’l law (as there is no int’l law against developing nukes per se) nor in violoation of any treaty as they are not a member of the non-proliferation treaty to begin with, unlike NoKo and Iran.

    Even so, it seems that you have amazingly missed the point of the post: It’s the REGIME, Stupid.

    As Herschel notes above, no civilized, non-terrorist state is worrying about Israel nuking them because Israel is a democratic and responsible state. If Iran were a peaceful, democratic state, there would not be nearly the worry about nuclear weapons. The fact that Iran is a religious hell-hole that is bent on imposing its militant Islam on the rest of us is the grounds for stern action.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Nuclear,Obama Administration and was published March 6th, 2012 by Glen Tschirgi.

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