`Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.' (Vernor Vinge, NASA VISION-21 Symposium, 1993)
Benny Morris, who often predicts that Iran is out to annihilate Israel,has another op-ed piece about why Israel needs to mount a nuclear attack against Iran in the NYT.
But should Israel’s conventional assault fail to significantly harm or stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow. Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power. And, despite the current talk of additional economic sanctions, everyone knows that such measures have so far led nowhere and are unlikely to be applied with sufficient scope to cause Iran real pain, given Russia’s and China’s continued recalcitrance and Western Europe’s (and America’s) ambivalence in behavior, if not in rhetoric. Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran will reach the “point of no return” in acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years.
Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran’s march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial assault by either the United States or Israel. Clearly, America has the conventional military capacity to do the job, which would involve a protracted air assault against Iran’s air defenses followed by strikes on the nuclear sites themselves. But, as a result of the Iraq imbroglio, and what is rapidly turning into the Afghan imbroglio, the American public has little enthusiasm for wars in the Islamic lands. This curtails the White House’s ability to begin yet another major military campaign in pursuit of a goal that is not seen as a vital national interest by many Americans. (If you are not registered at NYT, Harry's Place has the entire piece posted.)
So, since everyone already knows that a conventional attack will fail since Iran has already planned for a conventional attack by building duplicate sites, far underground, and dispersing facilities all over the country, shouldn't we already jump to the nuclear option?
Which means what exactly? Just how much of Iran needs to be nuked in order for Israel to be safe?
My answer is this: this kind of war will never ever be won. It is impossible. Destroying Iran as an enemy only means creating new enemies in new places.
Hey, believe me, I understand why Israel feels the necessity to have a nuclear deterrent. I understand why its survival depends on being a bad ass. Iran getting nukes scares me. Anyone familiar with this blog will know that I have consistently taken an anti-nuke stance.
I do not want to see Israel destroyed any more than I want to see Iran destroyed. I am hoping that, on all sides, calmer heads will prevail. (But, as a Sci-Fi aficionado, I fear the coming singularity.)
It is useful to note that Iran sees itself as alone among enemies in much the same way that Israel sees itself. The threats go in all directions. Iran saw itself abandoned by the world when villages in the province of Kurdistan were gassed:
In total 360 chemical bombs were dropped on Iran against both military and civilian targets resulting in 100,000 casualties. There are now still some 45-52,000 people in Iran suffering severely from these attacks, many of them civilians who were not involved in the war but were just trying to live their lives.
What’s important to say at this point is that Iran is the only country in recent history that has had weapons of mass destruction used against it, and this by Iraq in full view of the international community which did nothing to help.
(From a text by Kamin Mohammadi)
(I actually remember that the official view of the US at the time was that the chemical attacks never took place.)
In conclusion (finally!), the premise of the argument for a nuclear attack against Iran is this: the regime is suicidal and willing to bring about the end of their own world. Everyone knows that a nuclear attack against Israel will assuredly result in devastating attacks against Iran. So, the regime must be suicidal to launch such an attack.
This begs the question: is a preemptive strike against Iran also suicidal for Israel? I think it is. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.