Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Iran, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and World War One

David Ignatius brings up some very interesting points in his op-ed in the Washington Post called An Iranian Missile Crisis? The impasse was summarized by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, in a quote attributed to a Pentagon adviser: "The bottom line is that Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S." Allison argues that Bush's dilemma is similar to the one that confronted Kennedy in 1962. His advisers are telling him that he may face a stark choice -- either to acquiesce in the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a dangerous adversary, or risk war to stop that nuclear fait accompli . Hard-liners warned JFK that alternative courses of action would only delay the inevitable day of reckoning, and Bush is probably hearing similar advice now. he continues with this: What worries me is that the relevant historical analogy may not be the 1962 war that didn't happen, but World War I, which did. The march toward war in 1914 resulted from the tight interlocking of alliances, obligations, perceived threats and strategic miscalculations. The British historian Niall Ferguson argued in his book "The Pity of War" that Britain's decision to enter World War I was a gross error of judgment that cost that nation its empire. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, makes a similar argument about Iran. "I think of war with Iran as the ending of America's present role in the world," he told me this week. "Iraq may have been a preview of that, but it's still redeemable if we get out fast. In a war with Iran, we'll get dragged down for 20 or 30 years. The world will condemn us. We will lose our position in the world." Is war with Iran inevitable as many Americans seem to think?

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