President Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have at least one thing in common when it comes to Iran. All are guilty of flagrant self-contradiction.
Each says that a nuclear-armed Iran could not be effectively contained the way the U.S. government contained the nuclear-armed Soviet Union and Communist China. Yet each also says that Iran can be prevented from acquiring a nuclear capability or weapon if the United States and Israel draw a “red line” and threaten Iran militarily if it crosses the line.
Both assertions cannot be true.
In his speech before the United Nations, Netanyahu, holding a poster of a cartoon bomb, said,
There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union. That's a very dangerous assumption.... Militant Jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists.... Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival. But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.
There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Professor Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.
In Obama’s UN speech, he said,
Make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.... And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
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Sheldon Richman (photo) is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of The Freeman magazine