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Iran Hawks and Preventive War

The conceit that Iran hawks don't want war with Iran is an empty one.

Norman Podhoretz makes a number of risible claims in his recent op-ed on the Iran deal. This was the most preposterous:

For in allowing Iran to get the bomb, he is not averting war. What he is doing is setting the stage for a nuclear war between Iran and Israel.

None of this is true. Iran isn’t being “allowed” to get a nuclear weapon. Even when all the additional restrictions imposed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are lifted, Iran will still be a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and will still be bound by its commitments under that treaty not to build nuclear weapons. Even if Iran opted to pull out of the treaty and build a few nuclear weapons at some point in the future, that would not lead to a nuclear war with Israel. No Iranian government would be insane enough to start a war that would certainly result in the destruction of their country. The idea that there would ever be an Iranian government that would be willing to do this is one of the most distorting and persistent lies in the Iran debate.

The other lie that Podhoretz promotes in his op-ed is the idea that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It would at most briefly delay Iran’s ability to build such weapons while making it much more likely that their government would decide to do so. Preventive war against Iran is a reckless, indefensible, and illegal option, and on top of all that it would fail to “prevent” the very thing it was being waged to stop, so naturally Iran hawks think it is an appropriate policy. The conceit that Iran hawks don’t want war with Iran is an empty one, as their repeated arguments in favor of preventive war against Iran make clear.



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