Shame on the New York Times Editorial Page
Anyone who is anyone in the field of international relations understands the catastrophe that would occur if Iran’s nuclear-facilities were bombed. Or at least this is what I thought a few days ago, before I turned to the infamous New York Times editorial page.
And what did I read in this so-called “highly acclaimed news source?” No, it was not another piece arguing for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Nor was it an editorial blasting the Republican and Democratic Parties for their strict partisanship in the U.S. Congress. No…what I found was none other than an Alan Kuperman article stressing the need to take preventive military action against Iran for its less-than transparent nuclear program.
All in all, Mr. Kuperman suggests that the United States faces two choices. In sum, the first basically calls appeasement, allowing Ahmadinejad to continue modernizing Tehran’s nuclear capability. The other policy choice- wholeheartedly supported by Mr. Kuperman- is to make sure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is destroyed before it is too late.
Here are some memorable quotes from the article, published this past Christmas Eve:
1) “Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.”
2) “If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb.”
3) “History suggests that military strikes could work. Israel’s 1981 attack on the nearly finished Osirak reactor prevented Iraq’s rapid acquisition of a plutonium-based nuclear weapon and compelled it to pursue a more gradual, uranium-based bomb program. A decade later, the Persian Gulf War uncovered and enabled the destruction of that uranium initiative, which finally deterred Saddam Hussein from further pursuit of nuclear weapons. Analogously, Iran’s atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
4) “Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try.”
With foolhardy statements such as these, one would think that the New York Times was deliberately trying to expose the idiocy of the neo-conservative doctrine in order to shore up support for the doves in Washington.
In fact, virtually every single point that Kuperman uses to bolster his argument is questionable at best. For one, bringing up Israel’s preemptive bombing of the Osirak reactor fails to convince skeptics such as myself that a similar campaign against Iran would boast a similar amount of success. Iran has learned from the Iraqi experience. Contrary to Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program, the Iranians have been constructing uranium enrichment sites in multiple locations across the country; making it extraordinarily difficult for an air-strike to be 100 percent successful.
Secondly, there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran would pass nuclear technology to terrorist groups in the Middle East. Tehran spends billions of dollars and spends countless days perfecting their nuclear expertise for one reason and one reason only: building a nuclear deterrent for themselves. Doing anything other than that- such as working with Hezbollah or Hamas on atomic weapon designs- would only raise alarms across intelligence agencies worldwide. Establishing a nuclear connection with Islamic proxies would sacrifice the very tenants of self-preservation; a concept that the mullahs take to heart.
What a disgrace. It is hard to believe that the New York Times- a paper that is already highly discredited by many scholars across the IR field- could dig itself deeper into amateurism. But with Mr. Kuperman’s “bomb-Iran or face Armageddon” argument, this is precisely what the editors of the New York Times did. How can anyone take this paper seriously if warmongers like Kuperman are allowed to boast their ill-fated arguments on such a national platform?
Sure, everyone is entitled to free-speech and free-expression. But lets face it…even the most liberal American among us would cringe at this editorial.
Getting down to business, let’s review some possible counter measures that Iran would take in the event of a U.S. or Israeli air-strike on its nuclear facilities:
1) Iraq and Afghanistan would be far more conflicted than they already are for U.S. troops. Shia militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan would step-up their attacks on U.S. and NATO forces; not only diminishing the operation’s success but demoralizing the troops in the process.
2) Through Iran’s Hezbollah and Hamas proxies, Israel would be forced to endure a wrath of asymmetrical violence that would be far more devastating than the deadliest Palestinian intifada.
3) Yemen- a state that is already grappling with a Shia insurgency to the North and a separatist movement in the South- would become a failed state without any resemblance of order or authority. And with a fragile Yemen, Saudi Arabia would probably feel compelled to step-in the mix.
4) World oil prices would rise to cataclysmic levels
5) Iran could withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thereby cutting off the only link the international community has to Tehran’s nuclear program.
6)) Lastly, Arabs that were once hopeful for a peaceful future would be held hostage to Iranian retaliation.
Good job Mr. Kuperman, your NYT op-ed just solidified the neo-conservative image as an irrational and baseless camp in American politics. And this is a Republican speaking!
-Daniel R. DePetris