I’ve just read an article by Robert Kaplan, titled “Warming to Iran” and published in “The Atlantic”.
He makes the case for rapprochement with Iran despite Israeli and Saudi objections.
His argument is rational and it would be convincing if there were not serious flaws, namely its dependence on way too optimistic assumptions not only with regards to Iran but also with regards to the behaviour of the US itself.
He doesn’t explicitely mention containment of a nuclear Iran but since he wrote in his article “Living With a Nuclear Iran”, published in 2010, that he thinks that a nuclear Iran can be contained I’m assuming that he would accept a nuclear Iran as part of the rapprochement.
Moreover he fails to address one problem that is, I think, a critical one: How would the countries in the region respond to a nuclear Iran?
Even if Iran’s mullahs were rational and would not nuke Israel or Saudi Arabia at the first opportunity, what would happen if the Iranians would merely have nukes?
It’s not only the Israelis who are unwilling to outsource their security and reserve the right to act as they deem necessary in matters of survival. The same goes for the Saudis because they would be a prime target of Iranian expansionist ambitions.
Would they trust in America to protect them? Hell no.
Not only have they expressed their distrust in the current US administration but it would be foolish to make themselves dependend on ANY US administration in these matters of life and death.
The following illustration makes the point clear.
In 1994 Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the US signed the Budapest Memorandum in which the signatories gave security assurances to Ukraine.
In exchange Ukraine gave up all nukes it had inherited from the USSR.
Do I need to stress what happened? This memorandum turned out to be a worthless piece of paper.
US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt stated “The Budapest Memorandum was not an agreement on security guarantees,”.
Much has been said about how the US would contain a nuclear Iran and that Iran would be annihilated if it dared attacking the US with nukes but very little has been said about this:
Would the US engage in a nuclear exchange with Iran if they would drop a nuke on the Saudis?
Would the US engage in a conventional war against a nuclear Iran that attacked the Saudis?
The answer to the first question is: hell no!
The answer to the second question is: maybe!
That’s my personal opinion but I’m pretty convinced that the Saudis won’t wait to find out the answers and you can be pretty certain that they would try to aquire nukes from Pakistan the minute the Iranians go nuclear.
Not only that but even the Egyptians have stated that they would go nuclear if Iran does.
It’s also reasonable to expect that countries like Turkey would take the same path.
The Middle East is such an oasis of peace and stability that a bunch of countries getting nukes won’t hurt, yeah.
Another scenario that is not much discussed is this: Iran getting control of Saudi land with Shia majorities even without nukes.
It is not widely known that most of the Saudi oil and gas reserves are laying in precisely these parts of Saudi Arabia.
Iran getting control of these parts of Saudi Arabia would mean that they would have control over 56% of the world’s oil and gas reserves.
People like Robert Kaplan hope that countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia would rebalance a mightier Iran if the US reduces its commitment to the region in order to pivot to Asia but the moment the Iranians would control 56% of the oil and gas reserves it would be game over for the Sunnies and for the West.
That would mean not only immense control over the world economy but in addition to blackmailing the West it would mean also that with these resources at its disposal Iran would in the long run defeat its Sunni rivals.
The idea to play Sunnis against Shias could quickly turn into a fata morgana.
Assuming that the Iranians ARE rational, it’s reasonable to expect that Iran would use nukes as soon as it has them to achieve its expansionist goals because if they would wait too long the other countries in the region would, by aqcuiring nukes, offset that initial advantage.
Using nukes doesn’t necessarily mean nuking cities but they could be used to threaten countries into submission.
We see how bad Iran behaves even against nuclear armed US and Israel now.
Imagine what they’ll do if they have nukes.
PS: If you want to understand how influential people rationally explain the US President’s current unstated policies read the article “Warming to Iran”.
However, if you want to understand his true, equally unstated, motives I recommend watching the films of Dinesh D’Souza.