"The reality is that most of us think the Iranians are probably going to get a weapon, or the technology to make one, sooner or later," an administration official acknowledged a few weeks ago, refusing to talk on the record because such an admission amounts to a concession that dragging Iran in front of the United Nations Security Council may prove to be an exercise in futility. "The optimists around here just hope we can delay the day by 10 or 20 years, and that by that time we'll have a different relationship with a different Iranian government."
A roll of the dice, for sure. Yet is the risk greater than it was when other countries -- from the Soviet Union and China to India and Pakistan -- defied the United States to join the nuclear club?
And could deterrence, containment and cool calculation of national interest work to restrain Iran as it worked to restrain America and its competitors during the cold war? Or is that false comfort?
Sanger's column explores the idea that the consequences to the U.S. of stopping an Iranian bomb are more severe than the consequences of a nuclear Iran. It's good stuff, and if you can get your hands on a print copy of the Times I'd recommend reading it in full.
But I want amplify Sanger's argument by bringing up a favorite point of mine that Sanger overlooks. Namely, that the technology for manufacturing nuclear weapons is sixty years old. Preventing Iran from acquiring the technology to produce nuclear weapons is like preventing them from adopting black and white television, jet propulsion, and the transistor radio. Get real.
Stopping nuclear proliferation is a nonstarter. Delay, obviously, is possible. The crucial point here is that once it's admitted that delay is the real goal it becomes illicit to rely on a cost/benefit calculation that includes the destruction of the American way of life on the cost side of the equation.
Edited to include a link to Sanger's editorial.