By Con George-Kotzabasis April 3, 2012
A reply to: Right is Wrong: Deterrence Will Work by Fareed Zakaria
The Australian March 20, 2012
The American political commentator, Fareed Zakaria argues in the above titled article in The Australian that even if sanctions against Iran fail to prevent the latter from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, it can be deterred from using it by the preponderance of the U.S.A. in the firepower of its own nuclear weapons. Therefore, such a policy, according to Zakaria is better and safer than a policy of preventative military action with all the imponderable dangers that would stem from it. And he ridicules and is scornful of the conservative right, such as The Heritage Foundation and The American Enterprise Institute, for arguing of the ineffectiveness and futility of deterrence against the regime of the Mullahs, and, therefore, proposes a major military strike to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. In support of his policy of deterrence he quotes the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, from an article the latter wrote in The New Republic in the eighties—while making fun of him since Krauthammer now is in favour of a military strike–that “deterrence, like old age, is intolerable until one considers the alternative.” Topping up his argument or should I rather say bottoming it down, Zakaria alleges that a strike against Iran would only delay its nuclear programme by only “a few years while driving up domestic support for the government in Tehran.” And he sedately poses the question that “if deterrence does not work then why are we not preparing preventative war against Russia which still has a fearsome arsenal of nuclear weapons?”
Zakaria completely disregards the fact that Russia today is not a deadly enemy of the West as it was in the past, unlike the Theocracy of Iran which clearly is. Further, as a serious commentator surprisingly he does not make a distinction between attacking a country that is fully armed with nuclear weapons that would open the doors of the MAD house to both combatants as such attack would lead to their Mutual Assured Destruction, and a country that lacks a nuclear stockpile as Iran at this stage is. It was precisely this mutual annihilation hovering like a Damocles Sword over the heads of the two rational superpowers that prevented them from attacking each other during the cold war. And the Cuban crisis was a limpid illustration of how both superpowers withdrew from the brink of this mutual destruction. But in the case of a nuclear armed Iran, one would have to be highly optimistic against the grim fact that the animus of a religious fanatic leadership, whose aim is to set up the new Caliphate of the twelfth imam Mahdi, would be supplanted by the dictates of reason and would desist, either directly or through its terrorist proxies, to launch a nuclear attack.
Moreover, Zakaria is oblivious of two substantial factors that make incomparable the situation existing during the cold war and the present situation of the hot war of multi-franchised ‘anarchic’ terror, in regards to deterrence. One of them is technological and the other is the strategically unidentifiable non-recognizable enemy until the moment he acts. Advanced technological knowhow is being easily accessed through the internet by the masses giving any individual with rudimentary knowledge the ability to construct lethal weapons, and, indeed, nuclear ones once their components are provided by rogue states, and has at the same time opened variable avenues to their portability to the countries against which they can be used. The second factor is the ample supply of Islamist mujahedin martyrs, in their ardent chase of the seventy-two virgins, camouflaged in civilian clothes, has also opened innumerable strategically invisible conduits for the delivery of these lethal weapons that can be used by any Islamist regime against the ‘Great Satan’, America, and its offspring in the West. Iran therefore can use stealthily these terrorists as ‘rocket launchers’ laden with nuclear weapons against any Western country it wishes to attack without identifying itself as the culprit that would immediately trigger a counterattack by the West. In such a situation therefore deterrence is totally a futile and ineffective strategy, and most dangerous to boot, in preventing an Islamist regime to launch a nuclear attack on America or on any other Western country. How can anyone deter fanatics from becoming nuclear weapon carriers in their pursuit of God-given paradisiac boudoirs? How can anyone deter the Islamist theocracy of Iran, with its virile libido dominandi to be the dominant power in the region and the paramount leader of Islam, from recruiting terrorists, with the cult of death as their banner, and ‘donning’ them with a panoply of nuclear weapons to be used against the infidels of the West? Or use them directly against Israel and thus fulfil its Godly agenda in annihilating the Jews? Zakaria by not seeing, and even not contemplating, this changed war milieu that exists presently in comparison to the cold war, makes his strategy of deterrence against Iran a folly of unprecedented magnitude in the annals of strategic thinking.
As to his comment, that a strike against Iran would only delay its nuclear programme while lending support to the Mullahcratic regime, he is blind to the great potential that such a surgical strike, whose target will not only be its nuclear facilities but also will have in its scope to effectively destroy the hated leadership of Tehran and the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, the Quds Force, contrary to his dire prediction, could bring on its heel a regime change by ushering the Opposition in power that would be friendly and amicable to the West and would accept and conform to the requests of the latter to stop all Iran’s activities toward developing nuclear weapons in the future. Another great danger, of which Zakaria appears to be unconcerned, is that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would start a nuclear race by other nations in the region to acquire them too and hence would augment the probability of a nuclear war either by deliberation or by accident. No deterrence could nullify the calculus of probability based on increasing numbers. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by a greater number of nations would lead with mathematical precision to a first strike by a nuclear device. Zakaria’s proposal of deterrence as an effective strategic instrument against Iran is not worthy of consideration by serious policymakers.
I rest on my oars: your turn now…