Those who engage in fearmongering about Iran usually save contradicting themselves for separate sentences, but not Robert Kaplan:
A nuclear arsenal will allow Iran to become a Middle East hegemon like the Great Persia of antiquity, yet it will also encourage countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to develop their own bombs.
Pretty clearly, if an Iranian nuclear arsenal inspired other regional states to acquire their own bombs, Iran would not become a Middle East hegemon of any kind, much less a hegemon like “the Great Persia of antiquity.” Achaemenid Persia at its height ruled over all of what is today’s Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, as well as ruling over significant chunks of the Caucasus, Central Asia and modern Pakistan. If several of those states acquire nuclear weapons in response to an Iranian bomb, and two already have them, what are the odds of Iranian regional hegemony beyond what it currently enjoys? You can legitimately raise the concern that an Iranian bomb would trigger a regional arms race, but you can’t also say that Iran would also dominate the region as in the days of Cyrus and Xerxes at the same time.
Iran will represent the heretofore unseen and unconventional combination of being a nuclear-armed state which supports sub-state armies in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.
It is such an unseen and unconventional combination that only the Americans, Soviets and Pakistanis have done it before them. Unlike those powers, Iran has apparently not yet mastered the powers of invisibility.
Kaplan then takes a detour through Crazytown:
But what if the Europeans don’t get the message? Or what if Iran continues its cat-and-mouse negotiating mixed with intransigence? Israel’s future in this regard is indeed bleak. For even if a moderate Republican realist like John McCain, or even worse, a liberal-left internationalist like Barrack Obama, is elected president, each is likely to subsume Israel to larger geopolitical considerations, rather than hold it up as an icon to be both supported and worshipped in the post-9/11 era [bold mine-DL], as George W. Bush has done.
God forbid the President of the United States put other geopolitcal considerations ahead of the supposed interests of a small Mediterranean ally. For that matter, if I were to say that George W. Bush held Israel up as “an icon to be supported and worshipped” someone would say that I was exaggerating unfairly and that I was engaging in hyperbole.
Kaplan isn’t finished yet:
Because an air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities will roil world financial markets and thus provide Obama with even more of an edge over the Republican party, Israel may be less inclined to attack Iran before the election [bold mine-DL]. On the other hand, after the inauguration, Israel will be in the hands of a new American president who will show it much less sympathy than Bush [bold mine-DL].
If Kaplan could cite some instance where either McCain or Obama deviated even a micron from Mr. Bush’s Israel policies, that would help make this interpretation seem a little less absurd. A skeptic might say that the kind of sympathy that has greatly empowered Iran and backed Olmert’s blunder in Lebanon is sympathy Israel might want to avoid in the future, but then McCain is indistinguishable from Bush on this score, and Obama’s sole difference with the administration with respect to policy goals in the region relates to the Iraq war, which did so much to undermine Israeli security. Viewed that way, Obama might be fairly described as being even more pro-Israel than Bush.
Update: Meanwhile, Haaretz reports on a Telegraph article that any Israeli strike against Iran wouldn’t succeed anyway because both our government and Israel’s don’t know where many of the nuclear facilities are:
Senior United States defense officials fear that a much-anticipated Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would fail to destroy them due to lack of intelligence about their location, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The British newspaper stated that evidence of the CIA and Mossad espionage agency’s dearth of knowledge on the matter emerged during recent Israel-U.S. talks.
Wasn’t one of the lessons of the Iraq debacle supposed to be that we should avoid initiating military operations on the basis of shoddy and/or incomplete intelligence?