Wednesday, May 05, 2010

WORLD WAR IV MORE YEARS! In response to a Bret Stephens let's-keep-our-nukes column, National Review's Michael Anton strongly suggests that rogue states (Iran, the subject of Stephens' column, is clearly on Anton's mind) will at least give a hand to terrorists who will explode nuclear weapons in the U.S., "especially if they calculate that their role in the act will appear sufficiently ambiguous to minimize the chance of American retaliation." (He might as well just say that Iran is preemptively responsible, Minority Report style.)

Then he talks about deterrence, by which he seems to mean publicly threatening to blow up Iran if something blows up here:
Declaratory policy is what nations say about how and when and why they might retaliate in various circumstances. The purpose — and hope — is that by making terrible threats, we can make follow-through on those threats unnecessary by staying the hand of those whose hatred can never be assuaged but whose innate senses of self-preservation, rationality, and (yes) fear can be leveraged in our favor. Conventional wisdom and official policy alike hold that declaratory policy has no relevance or role to play in the fight against terror.

This is an unexamined assumption — a reflex or, better, a recoiling from where the inquiry, not to say the conclusion, must lead. It is understandable that no one wishes to wander into that dark, monster-infested forest — nor, worse, to be seen to do so. But sooner rather than later, someone — several of us — must. Stephens is saying: Let’s get on with it. He’s right.
This is, I guess, the sort of thing you can say when your readers think Obama is Hitler plus Stalin, hates America, and cannot be trusted to retaliate against people who attack the United States. Because that's the only way it makes sense.

Even if you despise Obama (and this can apply to Ahmadinejad as well as to wingnuts), you have to know that in such a scenario political expediency alone would demand of him some futile, belligerent gesture. The last guy invaded Iraq, for Christ's sake -- what sense did that make? And this time we wouldn't have to go through the charade of hunting for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either, because they'll already have blown up, in Times Square or somewhere nearby. The idea that no one's getting his ass kicked after such an incident is pure fantasy.

But only the punters are supposed to take this seriously, as Anton's doomy if, God forbid language indicates. If you let him and his buddies back in power, they'll blow up Iran one way or the other.

Extra points to Anton for pretending this offer to find diplomatic language for blanket nuclear threats is an act of great bravery. ("To discuss these matters is to risk one’s reputation and perhaps livelihood" -- as if these guys can't always get a job!)


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