Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Kenneth Waltz: The more nuclear weapons, the better!

News out of Moscow on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program is not good. Tehran has dug in its heels on its right to enrichment and appears unlikely to make any serious concession to the West when it comes to its ever-expanding program. But, in what only can be considered an Alfred E. Neuman moment of “what, me worry?”, famed neo-realist Kenneth Waltz concluded in a USA Today op-ed yesterday on the Iranian program that “policymakers and citizens worldwide should take comfort from the fact that where nuclear capabilities have emerged, so, too, has stability. When it comes to nuclear weapons, now as ever, more could be better.”

Good to know. Maybe we could even begin handing out nukes on the street corner. By Waltz’s logic, it’s likely to reduce crime as well.

But before we get all that comfortable with Iran having nukes, another story bears noting. According to a report in Britain’s Guardian, “A multinational investigation into bomb plots targeting Israeli diplomats earlier this year has produced the clearest evidence yet that Iran was involved.” And as European security officials apparently told the newspaper, those plots, combined with the planned attack against a Saudi diplomat on U.S. soil, make it now “difficult to judge Tehran’s ‘risk calculus.’” Indeed, according to one intelligence officer, “Until recently it was possible to see why they were doing what they have been doing…Now it has become very unpredictable.”

Maybe Waltz can sleep easy at night with such a regime having nuclear weapons. But I suspect most folks in the Middle East won’t—and reasonably so.

2 thoughts on “Kenneth Waltz: The more nuclear weapons, the better!

  1. “Maybe we could even begin handing out nukes on the street corner. By Waltz’s logic, it’s likely to reduce crime as well.” This statement makes it difficult to believe the author has read-or at least comprehends Waltz’s arguments on nuclear proliferation.

    With regards to European security officials being perplexed over Iran’s recent actions, I’d first ask when we conservatives began caring what the EU thinks on national security issues (see: 2003 Iraq invasion). They have rarely understood or supported Israel’s actions but we haven’t concluded from that we should abandon Israel.

    In any case, it doesn’t seem all too hard to deduce the strategic logic behind Iran’s recent actions; Israel has been assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and military officials through covert action for years now. Iran doesn’t have the ability to strike back unconventionally inside of Israel so its targeted Israeli diplomat’s in third countries where Iran does have a presence. Its hard to see the strategic risk of Iran’s actions besides alienating the countries these attacks take place in. The U.S. and EU are already pulling all the sanctions levers against it and are unlikely to undertake a military operation against Iran because an Israeli diplomat gets killed, especially given Israel’s assassinations in Iran. Israel might initiate bombings against Iran in response but its capabilities are limited and ultimately such a campaign is likely to work in Iran’s favor in a number of ways: 1) Create friction between Israel-U.S. 2) Significantly reduce intl support for ramping up diplomatic pressure against Iran 3) Get the Arab street’s attention off of Syria and targeted back on hatred for Israel where Iran can portray itself as leading the fight while Arab regimes are in bed with the Jewish state. What’s more notable about the Iranian assassination attempts is how they have demonstrated just how limited Iran’s unconventional warfare capabilities are, despite all the talk in the West about the IRGC and Quds Forces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>