I don't know about anybody else, but the last couple of days, I've been getting a severe sense of deja vu. This feels like early 2002 all over again, with the saem voices rattling sabers for war with an enemy in the Middle East.
Today Israel weighed in:
If the U.N. Security Council is incapable of taking action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself, Israel's defense minister said on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was asked whether Israel was ready to use military action if the Security Council proved unable to act against what Israel and the West believe is a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.
"My answer to this question is that the state of Israel has the right give all the security that is needed to the people in Israel. We have to defend ourselves," Mofaz told Reuters after a meeting with his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung.
This comes on the heels of Dick Cheney taking time off from hunting to say that Iran must not have nuclear weapons (No comment on whether or not North Korea is allowed, probably because they already have them, obtaining them on President Cheney's watch).
It's really back to the future (not Brokeback to the Future) because we've got vague, unconvincing evidence on the way:
It will rely mainly on circumstantial evidence, much of it from documents found on a laptop purportedly purloined from an Iranian nuclear engineer and obtained by the CIA in 2004. U.S. officials insist the material is strong but concede they have no smoking gun.
They do, however, have diagrams that they believe show components of a nuclear bomb. According to a Western diplomat familiar with the U.S. intel brief, a Farsi-language PowerPoint presentation on the laptop has "catchy graphics," including diagrams of a hollow metallic sphere 2 ft. in diameter and weighing about 440 lbs. Other documents show a sphere-shaped array of tiny detonators. No file specifically refers to a nuclear bomb, but U.S. officials say the design of the sphere--an outer shell studded with small chemical- explosive charges meant to detonate inward, which would squeeze an inner core of material into a critical mass--is akin to that of classic devices like Fat Man, the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II.
We cannot let Iran have catchy graphics! Please, this is stuff you can find on the Internet.
Here are my thoughts on Iran: anyone who thinks Ahmadinejad actually has any power is crazy. If the elected President was the leader of the country you would have seen major reforms during the 8-year Khatami era. The mullahs are in power, and Ahmadinejad, if anything, gives them a convenient cover for the international community to rail against while they continue to suppress dissent and control the society from the ground up. We should have been agitiating for change in Iran when we had the foothold of Khatami in power, rather than now when the reform movement in the country is desiccated. The mullahs have "reformed" Iran by allowing the young elite classes to have cell phones and lipstick; in other words, bread and circuses.
As far as Iran going nuclear, of course we don't want that. That's why direct engagement is so crucial; there was no way the European Union was going to be able to pull it off without an American presence. The Russian enrichment solution, which every major power has signed onto for the time being, deserves to be given a chance with full-throated rather than tacit US support.
I wouldn't be surprised to see some bombings; they don't take manpower (which we don't have) or much public support (you just go ahead and do it and justify it later). But maybe we shouldn't have been so cavalier in Iraq if we didn't want the end result of a stronger Iran, which we got. The potential for blowback and unexpected consequences again loom large, and I don't have any expectation that this government will in any way prepare themselves for them.