by David Harris
When I first saw the headline in the current issue (July/August 2012) of Foreign Affairs – "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb" – I thought there was a typo. Surely it was meant to read "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb – Not!"
But then I remembered that this bimonthly journal is not known for its typos – nor, for that matter, irony.
On the contrary, this is arguably the world's most influential and straight-shooting publication on foreign policy.
The author of this particular essay, Kenneth Waltz, is no slouch, either. He is a prominent scholar and a founder of the neorealism school in international relations theory.
So I turned to the piece, eager to see if my own longstanding concern about an Iranian bomb was perhaps misplaced.
I was dumbfounded by what I read.
Here are a few choice snippets:
"Most U.S., European, and Israeli commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the current standoff. In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."
"Another oft-touted worry is that if Iran obtains the bomb, other states in the region will follow suit, leading to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.... Should Iran become the second Middle Eastern nuclear power since 1945, it would hardly signal the start of a landslide.... No other country in the region will have an incentive to acquire its own nuclear capability, and the current crisis will finally dissipate, leading to a Middle East that is more stable than it is today."
"Diplomacy between Iran and the major powers should continue.... But the current sanctions on Iran can be dropped: they primarily harm ordinary Iranians, with little purpose."
And then there's Waltz's closing line: "When it comes to nuclear weapons, now as ever, more may be better."
In essence, Waltz constructs his argument on two pillars.
First, he asserts the core problem in the Middle East is Israel's nuclear arsenal, which needs to be balanced by another power, in this case Iran.
And second, he believes such a balance of power inherently stabilizes the situation, thereby reducing, not increasing, the risk of conflict.
He could not be more wrong on Iran.
Iran does not fit the theoretical template, drawn from his research, that he seeks to impose on it, and the consequences of this misreading could be profound.
First, Waltz declares that Iran's leaders are rational, hence no need for concern about a nuclear bomb in their hands.
Just because Waltz deems them to be dependable actors who, he asserts, will behave like others moderated by their possession of a nuclear bomb (does that include North Korea's strongmen?), are we all now to go home and get a good night's sleep?
Is their Shiite eschatology, focused on hastening the coming of the Hidden Imam, not to be taken into account, as if there were no place for state ideology in the discussion?
Apropos, is it just possible that their vision of the "end of days" could be accelerated by a world without Israel? After all, the former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, famously declared "[T]he use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel would destroy everything."
Could that kind of thinking not prompt Iranian leaders, living in a self-imposed cocoon, to conclude that the risk might be worth the reward?
Was their recruitment of young Iranian boys as would-be bomb sappers in the eight-year war with Iraq, and armed only with plastic keys to enter "heaven" and the awaiting 72 virgins, the behavior of a "rational" government?
Was the plot to blow up a Washington restaurant and kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. the thinking of a predictable regime?
Second, Waltz's confidence that there would be no "landslide" of proliferation in the Middle East if Iran goes nuclear is belied by the facts.
He totally ignores the regional context. There is no mention of the critically important Shiite-Sunni rivalry. He inexplicably fails to note the panic in neighboring Arab countries, documented in Wikileaks and elsewhere, about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Is it conceivable that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and, for that matter, Turkey would sit idly by and watch neighboring Iran become a nuclear power without following suit -- and with all the attendant consequences?
The prospect of such a neighborhood hegemon sends shivers up the spines of everyone in the region, save Iran's few friends, such as Bashar al-Assad's Syria, and those already too "Finlandized" by Iran's growing assertiveness to speak up.
And, speaking of proliferation, Waltz unconvincingly dismisses the possibility of Iran passing along its nuclear technology to terrorist groups, and entirely ignores the prospect of Tehran sharing nuclear tidbits with state actors, such as Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.
Third, Israel's nuclear arsenal, believed to have been developed over 50 years ago, has not created the strategic imbalance that Waltz suggests needs recalibrating.
Indeed, that reported arsenal neither stopped Egypt and Syria from provoking war in 1967, nor launching a surprise attack against Israel in 1973.
Nor did it halt the PLO from waging its terrorism campaign.
Nor did it dissuade Hamas and Islamic Jihad from firing thousands of missiles and rockets at Israel.
Nor did it block Hezbollah from triggering a war with Israel from its redoubt in Lebanon.
Moreover, unlike Iran, Israel has never threatened another nation with extinction.
Thus, to put Israel and Iran in the same boat, as Waltz does, is utterly irresponsible.
And finally, Waltz calls for the continuation of diplomacy with Iran and the end of sanctions. Huh?
Drop the sanctions, as Waltz suggests, and we will have precisely the outcome he invites – a nuclear-armed, chest-thumping Iran, convinced, not without good reason, that it had masterfully manipulated a gullible world. At that point, what useful purpose could diplomacy serve?
As the P5+1 faces the growing prospect of failed talks with Iran, there will doubtless be more calls from the likes of Waltz for some dramatic accommodation with Tehran.
Nothing could be more dangerous for regional and global stability.
And nothing would better prove our inability to learn the lessons of history than, to borrow from the title of Barbara Tuchman's book, such a march of folly.
by Gadi Adelman
The three top Egyptian Presidential candidates exude the peace the Arab Spring has brought us.
Fotouh: “Israel is an enemy.”
Moussa: “Most of our people consider it [Israel] an enemy”.
When Egypt's election commission published the final list of those who will be allowed to run in the first presidential election since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak last year, the list ended up with 13 names out of 23 that had initially applied.Two high-profile candidates have been barred, Omar Suleiman, the former vice president and spy chief under Hosni Mubarak and Khairat al-Shater, the main nominee of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Suleiman was deemed ineligible because he had not submitted enough endorsing signatures to qualify. Shater was disqualified because he had been imprisoned and Egyptian law bans criminal convicts from running for president. After Shater was disqualified the Muslim Brotherhood nominated their backup, Mohamed Morsi, the Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.
Two others of the Egyptian presidential front-runners faced off during the country's first televised presidential debate on Thursday. The hot topics were religion, Islamic law and Israel.
Amr Moussa, shown left, faced off against Abdel Fotouh and the statements these two made and the points they agreed on give us a view to Egypt’s as well as the Middle East’s future. Moussa is the one-time Arab League chief and former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak. Moussa is considered to be a moderate, and many experts see him as the favorite for Egyptians. If this guy is the “moderate” we need not look for a radical.
The Islamist candidate, Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh is a former leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood who many fear will impose an Islamic state should he be elected. Fotouh was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau from 1987 - 2009. In 2011 he formally quit all political work with the Muslim Brotherhood and resigned from its membership, when he decided to run for president.
Do I really need to explain what will come of Egypt after these elections? I have been writing and speaking out on this since before the previous President, Hosni Mubarak was ousted.
During the debate, both candidates agreed that the constitution should be guided by Sharia, or Islamic law. That, in and of itself, should be enough to make any one shudder who understands Sharia.
At one point Moussa asked Fotouh about religious freedom and Christianity, as reported by Egypt’s Ahram online,
“You once said in a televised interview that Muslims can convert to Christianity and vice versa... is this still your position?”
Abul-Fotouh, taken aback, waffled at first and then stressed the importance of freedom of belief and of a moderate understanding of Islam. He, however, fought back and attempted to corner Moussa and paint him as too secular.
Moussa was twice asked: “What do you mean by the general principles of Sharia?” After equivocating, the one-time Arab League chief insisted that the general principles of Islamic Sharia law, as they existed in the 1971 constitution, should be applied.
“We want to know your vision about applying Sharia law, especially as you are now backed by radical Islamist groups; and in politics nothing is for free, there must be a deal and we need to know,” Moussa shot back.
It seems like a comedy and if it weren’t true it might actually be laughable. One radical candidate accusing the other of being “now backed by radical Islamist groups”.
When it comes to Israel and the peace treaty that has been in place with Egypt since 1979 they agree wholeheartedly,
Abul-Fotouh, shown right, stated, “Israel is an enemy which is built on occupation, owns 200 nuclear warheads, doesn't respect international decisions and attacks religious symbols. The majority of Egyptians are enemies of Israel. The agreement with Israel should be revised and the sections which are against our interests should be removed immediately and only what's in our interests should stay.”
He also called Israel a “racist state” during an interview Saturday with the private Egyptian CBC satellite station; he said he had opposed the treaty since its implementation.
“I still view the peace treaty as a national security threat to Egypt, and it must be revised.”
What’s more, he said that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's assassination by US Special Forces was an act of “state terrorism”. Yeah, I can already see the love this guy has for the U.S.
Moussa has also been a critic of Israel both as foreign minister and Arab League chief and agreed that most Egyptians view the Jewish state as an enemy,
“We have lots of disagreements. Most of our people consider it an enemy, but the responsibility of the president is to deal with such things responsibly and not run after hot-headed slogans.”
According to Ahram online the highlight of the show was when Moussa described Iran as an Arab country, Fotouh stated,
“Our relationship with Iran is based on our own independence. I am not against a relationship with Iran provided it doesn’t proselytize the Shia faith in Egypt and likewise we shouldn’t try to spread the Sunni faith there.”
Moussa had a short answer, wrong, but short,
“I am against a war with Iran. Iran is an Arab country! And we have to listen and talk.”
Mr. Moussa, far be it for me to correct you, a former foreign minister of Egypt and Secretary General of the League of Arab States, but… Iran is not an Arab country and if you really want to tick off an Iranian, tell him he is.
The third front runner for the President of Egypt is no different from the other two when it comes to Sharia and Israel. Mohamed Morsi, left, as I mentioned earlier, was the Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.
The NY Times wrote of him back in April,
Mr. Morsi has campaigned explicitly both as a more conservative Islamist and as a loyal executor of Mr. Shater’s plans.
In a speech before Cairo University students just this past Saturday night, Morsi stated such loving lines; I have to admit that I myself cannot choose between these three gems. He stated,
“The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.”
“Today Egypt is close as never before to the triumph of Islam at all the state levels.”
“Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia. The Muslim Brothers and the Freedom and Justice Party will be the conductors of these goals.”
The first round of Egypt’s presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24. The president will be elected to a four-year term.
There are a total of 13 candidates for the President of Egypt and we all know how lucky 13 is, but the 3 above are the frontrunners and more than likely one of them will emerge the victor.
But I guess we really have nothing to worry about, our administration knows what they are doing when it comes to Egypt. Let’s not forget that Obama bypassed Congress and gave them over $1.5 billion in aid of your tax dollars just this past March.
As was reported by the Washington Post on March 22,
The Obama administration has decided to resume funding for Egypt’s military and will bypass congressional requirements that U.S. officials certify the country’s progress toward democracy, according to Capitol Hill aides.
This year’s allocation of aid — more than $1.5 billion, with the bulk earmarked for the military — was withheld amid the country’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups, including several U.S.-based organizations with close ties to political parties in Washington.
Yes, we’re in good hands. What could possibly go wrong? After all, 13 is such a lucky number.
Gadi Adelman is a speaker on terrorism, jihad, sharia and Islam. He is a contributing editor for the Family Security Matters website as well as writing for Conservative Camp, Faith for Freedom, Gold Coast Chronicle and Pronline news. He has his own weekly radio show "America Akbar" that can be heard on the Radio Jihad network.