Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Israel Matzav: Mullen's choices

Mullen's choices

I already discussed Michael Mullen's appearance at Columbia on Sunday here. Bill Kristol discusses one more point from Mullen's talk.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told a forum at Columbia University yesterday, "Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. In an area that's so unstable right now, we just don't need more of that."

But Mullen's formulation of geostrategic equivalance ignores a massive difference between the two outcomes: Even assuming the degree and kind of "destabilization" would be the same in both the cases of attack and appeasement (which I don't think would be so), one scenario--attack--leaves Iran without nuclear weapons, at least for now; the other--appeasement--means Iran would have nuclear weapons going forward. Which unstable outcome is less damaging to U.S. interests? I think the answer is pretty clear: An attacked Iran that does not have nukes.

And when Mullen goes on to say, "we just don't need more of that [destablizing of the region]," he's being silly. It's not a question of whether we "need" or would like more instability in the Middle East. Everyone would like to be able to wish the Iranian nuclear program (and the currrent Iranian regime) away, and to wish a happier "stability" into existence. The real question is what form of instability would be more dangerous--that caused by this Iranian regime with nuclear weapons, or that caused by attacking this regime's nuclear weapons program. It's time to have a serious debate about the choice between these two kinds of destabilization, instead of just refusing to confront the choice.

While it may be time for a debate, I'm not sure there is time for a debate anymore. Either the US is going to pull the trigger or Israel will have to pull it. There really aren't any more effective options.

Israel Matzav: Mullen's choices

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