Contra Iran

Thanks once again to our friends at the Claremont Institute and the Claremont Review of Books for affording us the privilege of rolling out a few of my favorite pieces from the new issue. Everything I think I know about American politics I’ve learned from the folks affiliated with the institute and the CRB. The magazine also has friends in high places; thirty copies of each new issue are sent out upon publication. Subscriptions to the CRB are only $14.95 a year; subscribe here.

Few deny that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is one of the great foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Boston University Professor of Internatioal Relations Angelo Codevilla is even blunter: “Soon Iran will have nuclear weapons.” That’s the sobering opening line to his contribution to a masterful symposium — one that includes Ilan Berman, Patrick Clawson, Efraim Halevy, Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Helprin, and Josef Joffe — all of whom were asked by the CRB to answer this simple question: How can we eliminate Iran’s nukes? Professor Codevilla weighs several options, from diplomacy to sanctions, and finds them wanting. He also reminds us that surgical strikes would be an act of war, but that

It would be a foolish war, because its premise would be that the nuclear technology is our enemy. Nonsense. Our enemies are not things, but specific people. If we are to shoot, let us not do so as in Iraq, against no one in particular while trying to remake the entire country according to abstract principles. Rather, let us make war against a regime, knowing that this will empower its opponents. Though costly, a real war would yield the desired results.

Professor Codevilla’s contribution to the CRB symposium is available here. The Weekly Standard has posted an advance look at Bill Kristol’s editorial in the forthcoming issue:

In the spring of 1936–seventy years ago–Hitler’s Germany occupied the Rhineland. The French prime minister, Lion Blum, denounced this as “unacceptable.” And did nothing. As did the British. And the United States.

In a talk last year, Christopher Caldwell quoted the great Raymond Aron’s verdict: “To say that something is unacceptable was to say that one accepted it.” Aron further remarked that Blum had in fact seemed proud of France’s putting up no resistance. Indeed, Blum had said, “No one suggested using military force. That is a sign of humanity’s moral progress.” Aron remarked: “This moral progress meant the end of the French system of alliances, and almost certain war.”

Today, it is President Bush who has said (repeatedly) that Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” The “reason it’s unacceptable,” the president has explained, is that “Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world.” The Iranians must “not have a nuclear weapon in which to blackmail and/or threaten the world.”

Is the America of 2006 more willing to thwart the unacceptable than the France of 1936?

Let’s add Kristol’s editorial to Professor Codevilla’s contribution to the CRB symposium: “Unacceptable?”

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