Friday, June 22, 2012

NEWS BLOG: Should we let Iran develop nuclear weapons?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 1:15 AM

More reading material to prepare for the presidential campaign: "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb" in the current issue of Foreign Affairs (payment required, unfortunately, although you can get a free summary).

Kenneth Waltz, a senior research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and a Columbia adjunct professor of political science, argues that the current US policy has it wrong. Rather than being dangerous, a nuclear-armed Iran would help stabilize the Middle East. You'll need to read it to see his rationale.

This will be a controversial article, to put it mildly, but it's worth reading. Among Waltz's arguments: the international discussion about Iran has been "distorted by misplaced worries and fundamental misunderstanding of how states generally behave in the international system." The justification for resisting Iran's nuclear-weapons development has been that Iran can't be trusted with nuclear weapons. Waltz's response: "Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, Iranian policy is not made by 'mad mullahs' but by perfectly sane ayatollahs who want to survive just like any other leaders."

Provocative or not, Waltz's article is worth reading and thinking about. Waltz believes sanctions are not likely to force Iran to stop developing nuclear capability. If that's the case, US leaders are likely to face a terrible decision in the not-distant future: if Iran continues to try to develop nuclear weapons, what's our response? Is there an option other than bombing that country?

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