Sunday, January 29, 2012

How About Some Reality-Based Thinking on Iran and Nukes?

James Fearon presents a short and clear analysis (plus some cites) of what has happened when countries develop nuclear weapons.  Besides the US, the Soviet Union and South Africa, history shows that countries get involved in less militarize disputes, even when controlling for other factors.

His conclusion:
We’ve heard these same concerns before, regarding Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Kim Jong-il’s North Korea, and about the mortal mutual enemies of India and Pakistan.  All these cases have been very scary, and it’s understandable that the prospect of a nuclear Iran is incredibly scary for Israelis.  But so far, in none these prior cases do the more extreme fears looked historically justified.
People tend to think that Iran, due to its theocracy, will be more likely to be willing to commit suicide.  Thus far, little of its behavior suggests that this is the case.  Iran seems to have a solid record of  being incredibly obnoxious (supporting terrorism, supporting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan) but not risking large-scale war.  Already, Iran has backed down from its Strait of Hormuz threats when its bluff was called.

Bombing Iran might sound like a good Beach Boys song, but it is lousy public policy.  The good news is that this current administration seems unlikely to try to disarm Iran.  The bad news is that the Republicans are competing to be the most enthused about getting the US into yet another war.

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