The otherwise thoughtful Roger McKinney points out, in today's Reader Mail, that, "We couldn't stop the USSR, China, India, or Pakistan from getting the bomb, and we probably won't stop Iran. MAD prevented any of those countries from launching a missile, even though they were as crazy and paranoid as the Iranians." From that, he concludes that we needn't fear an Iranian nuclear attack. But he's entirely wrong.
MAD -- mutually assured destruction -- deterred the Soviets from attacking us because we had sufficient forces to mount a counter attack that would destroy them even though they were in the process of destroying us. It was predicated on a fact not present with Iran. If the Soviets attacked - by missile or aircraft - we would have known instantly and with certainty who the attacker was. With Iran, they would not do that for the same reasons.
I disagree with the idea that the Soviets, Chinese, Indians, or Pakistanis are as "crazy and paranoid as the Iranians." They are crazy and paranoid in a very different way. The messianic radical Islam that dominates Iran's thinking is entirely different from the expansionist communism that was the Soviets. The Chinese are a third category. The Iranian method of attack would be designed to conceal the identity of the attacker. If they sailed a Liberian-registered ship into New York harbor, and the crew exploded a large nuclear device within yards of Manhattan, we'd suffer millions of dead and not know who the attacker was. Which precludes a nuclear counterstrike. No American president is going to launch one on the basis of a CIA assessment of who might be responsible. You don't launch ICBMs targeted at "to whom it may concern."
As I said last night on Fox (you can view the clip here), the US and Israel are the only nations serious about ensuring Iran doesn't obtain nuclear weapons. With the Israelis, we need to make a classified assessment of when the Iranians will be getting close to a weapon, and use our stealth aircraft and cruise missiles to knock out their facilities before they achieve their goals. This won't do more than delay the Iranian program, but it has the benefit of taking the advantage of time away from Iran and keeping it to ourselves.
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