04 February 2007

Iran: my case for the airstrike

Liberal atheist blogger Larry Hamelin makes his case against a pre-emptive airstrike on the Iranian nuclear program here. In this posting, I'll explain my reasons for favoring the opposite position.

(1) My overwhelming priority in this situation is the survival of Israel. Whether or not any given preventative action necessary to save Israel falls into a morally-prohibited category according to a given ethical system doesn't concern me. The bottom line is that any scenario in which a nuclear attack on Israel occurs is unacceptable.

(2) The Iranian regime has made statements which can reasonably be interpreted as threats against Israel. Because of the regime's theological beliefs, conventional deterrence by threats of retaliation cannot be guaranteed to restrain it. If the regime acquires nuclear weapons, the risk that it will use them against Israel is unacceptably high.

(3) If a nuclear attack is launched against Israel, it will not be possible to defend Israel. It will be possible to retaliate, but retaliation would not prevent Israel's devastation.

(4) Because of (1), (2), and (3), the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Iranian regime must be prevented by whatever means prove necessary. We cannot afford to wait until we have absolute proof that the program is aggressive in nature or that it has reached a certain stage of development. We must guarantee that the regime cannot acquire these weapons.

(5) There is no reason to think that economic sanctions, or any other means short of the physical destruction of key parts of the nuclear program, will turn Iran aside from its course. The regime has responded to every such measure, from whatever quarter, with defiance.

(6) If the US does not act, Israel is unlikely to sit and wait passively for its destruction. In such a case, Israel would be likely to conclude that it had no choice but to take unilateral action of its own against the Iranian nuclear program. However, Israel does not have as broad a range of logistical capabilities as the US has, which would enable the US to destroy the Iranian program with conventional weapons. For Israel to destroy the Iranian program by itself, it might need to use its own nuclear weapons. This would kill far more Iranian civilians than a conventional US airstrike would.

I am aware of the negative consequences which various parties have predicted would flow from a US airstrike on Iran. However, none of these consequences constitutes an adequate reason for allowing the Iranian nuclear program to proceed and thus risking a nuclear attack on Israel.

Additional considerations:

(7) Aside from the threat to Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran would present other serious dangers, such as the risk of a nuclear arms race among Middle Eastern Muslim states, and the risk of nuclear bombs being given to terrorists.

(8) Claims that the Iranian program will take five years or so to produce a working bomb are implausible, given that the US built the world's first atomic bombs in far less time than that, using the more primitive technology of over sixty years ago, and with no data from previous successful bomb-builders to guide us (such as the Iranians do have).

For these reasons, I consider a US airstrike to destroy the Iranian nuclear program to be necessary.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just surfed on in...
I think it's kewl you've linked
to Richard Dawkins and James

Thought you might like Daniel
Dennett, too...his latest book
(offering an evolutionary explanation of religion) is called, appropriately enough, Breaking the Spell I saw him last spring on C-SPAN's book-discussions show...fascinating.

06 February, 2007 07:34  
Blogger Unknown said...

You might want to look into the patriot ABM defense system as well as their development of Arrow missiles which will intercept ground-to-ground missiles and see if those will change your mind about point #3 in your post.

11 February, 2007 04:35  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Everything I've seen about anti-missile missiles indicates that their successful hit rate isn't even close to being high enough to depend on -- not when just one or two missiles getting through could flatten central Tel Aviv and kill or irradiate hundreds of thousands of people. If you know of data showing that they are indeed accurate enough to stop every missile a country with an arsenal like Iran's might launch, I'd be interested to be directed to it.

11 February, 2007 09:54  
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07 November, 2009 22:20  

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