Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Madness of Bombing Iran

Apr 24, 2006 1:49 am

The Madness of Bombing Iran

Robert Skidelsky, the renowned historian and biographer of Oswald Mosley and John Maynard Keynes, argues that Western opinion is being softened up for a US or Israeli strike against the Iranian centrifuges at Natanz.

"Given that it is possible, though difficult, to put in place a series of checks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, our leaders need to weigh very carefully the equivocal comfort that a so-called preventive strike may buy against the massive costs of mounting one. It is as certain as it can be that a strike against Iran would inflame Muslim hatred throughout the Middle East and beyond. It would interrupt oil supplies and disorganise the world economy. It would swell the insurgency in Iraq, multiply the numbers of 'terrorists' and strengthen their determination to exact a terrible vengeance, especially on Israel. It would be against every counsel of prudent statesmanship. The danger is that we will drift into war because we lack the will and imagination to create institutions to make peace safe."

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Craig J. Bolton - 4/25/2006

I am a long time and stalwart "isolationist" but on this particular issue I'm not too sure. As was pointed out in this Forum recently, there is a problem of the second best when one finds oneself in a less than ideal world where choices cannot be made between "real" alternative. This may be one of those situations. Here are the factors as they stack up in my mind:

(1) I can't think, right off hand, of an academic who I less admire than Mr. Skidelsky. Perhaps if Robert L. Heilbroner or Herman Finer were still with us I could not make that statement, but since they've passed on he's pretty much at the top of my "people who have used their academic credentials for propaganda purposes of which I do not approve" list.

(2) The putative leader of Iran is becoming more and more irrational and inflamatory in his public pronouncements. At the same time he and his government are announcing that they are engaged in a "full speed ahead" policy of nuclear development. This isn't Iraq, where Saddam was largely keeping his head down and loudly trumpeting that he had no wmd. This isn't Afganistan, where the government, although intrinsically deplorable, was only remotely connected to those who were an actual threat to the West. [No, I don't think that the babble about "harboring" makes any sense.]

(3) Instead, this is one of the most advanced countries in the Middle East with an apparent madman at its head daily proclaiming that he wants to wipe Israel from the map and then come after the U.S. I tend to take madmen at the head of major nations seriously, particularly when none of their own people cart them off for mental therapy.

(4) While I certainly would never advocate or even tolerate an invasion of Iran without abundant frothing at the mouth, the sort of thing that was done to Omar Khadafi may be justified in this case. Surgical strikes against a clear and present danger and invasions are two different things.

(5) I am afraid that we are now in a situation where "inflaming the Muslim world" or "creating more terrorists" is not much more than a marginal concern. Taking out Iran's nuclear capacity while "we" are continuing to occupy and still trying to "pacify" Iraq and Afganistan is a drop in the bucket. Those who are going to be "inflamed" and turn to terrorism are already there. Muslims who have a more realistic view of the world are still going to be much more upset over what "we"'ve done to and continue to do to Iraq than they will be with a surgical strike against Iranian nuclear capacity.

So, I dissent.

Sudha Shenoy - 4/24/2006

All the probable consequences of bombing the Iranian govt's nuclear facilities would provide splendid opportunities for increasing the power of govt officials in the US, Britain, etc., etc. -- "See how bad those Muslims are? They now dare to set off bombs etc. in our very own cities. We officials are now impelled by awful necessity to get even more powers over you helpless subjects."

Necessity is the plea of the tyrant. These 'democratically-controlled' (?!) tyrants now have the power to create that necessity.