Many experts are lining up behind the idea of deterring a nuclear Iran
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Retired General John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command, put it as follows: “We need to make it very clear to the Iranians, the same way we made it clear to the Soviet Union and China that their first use of nuclear weapons would result in the devastation of their nation. I don’t believe Iran is a suicide state. Deterrence will work with Iran.”
Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek Interna- tional, a Washington Post columnist, and a frequent TV commentator, is a leading advocate of deterrence. In his article “Don’t Scramble the Jets,” he argues that Iran’s religious leaders comprise a “canny (and ruthlessly pragmatic) clerical elite,” and that military dictatorships like the one that is now forming in Iran “are calculating. They act in ways that keep themselves alive and in power. That instinct for self-preservation is what will make a containment strategy work.” Among academics, Columbia University professor Kenneth Waltz has written that “It would be strange if Iran did not strive to get nuclear weapons, and I don’t think we have to worry if they do. Because deterrence has worked 100 percent of the time. After all, we have deterred big nuclear powers like the Soviet Union and China. So sleep well.”
A State Department official, who asked that his name not be used, pointed out that the United States is already providing to its allies in the Middle East coun- termeasures, such as positioning batteries of Patriot missiles, that might be employed to discourage Iran from using its nukes—but not from acquiring them
Although unconventional, we should consider the option of not trying to stop Iran's inevitable rise to become a nuclear power and focus instead on managing the eventual fallout through deterrence and proliferation assistance.