My Unpublished Letter To The Washington Post
One of the great things about having a blog is that you can publish what is “un-publishable” or rejected by newspapers and magazines. It provides a writer with a forum of expression that is wide open, even if other forums turn down what you have to say on a specific issue.
So when I found out that the Washington Post was going to pass up on my letter about an op-ed piece that one of their columnists wrote last week, I wasn’t really angry or disappointed (ok, maybe I was for a little bit…). The Post may have decided against it, but I still had the opportunity to release it in the blogosphere.
So here it is, word for word:
One of the main concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran is whether the United States would be able to contain what comes next. Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald made it abundantly clear in their July 9 op-ed (“Sanctions Alone Won’t Work on Iran”) that it is going to be exceedingly difficult- if downright impossible- for the international community to actually constrain the behavior of a newly-empowered Tehran.
Robb and Wald do make some intellectual observations about what could happen in the Middle East as a result of an Iranian bomb, such as a strengthened Hezbollah or a more violent Iraq. Yet they both conveniently neglect to mention the one concept that makes all of these consequences increasingly unlikely: nuclear deterrence.
Although the Islamic Republic of Iran is clearly different than the Soviet Union in an ideological sense, it is difficult to foresee how Tehran would be immune to a doctrine that has been successful at keeping nuclear peace for over six decades. Ever since its founding, Iran’s clerical leadership has demonstrated its obsession with self-preservation, whether it’s through harsh crackdowns on summer protestors or monetary and logistical support for unsavory characters in the Middle East.
Self-preservation is a sign of rationality. And this is precisely what Iran is: a rational state. “Overstepping its boundaries,” as Robb and Wald suggest, would not only produce a devastating international response. It would also destroy Iran’s Islamic government. The mullahs would surely want to avoid such an outcome.
-Daniel R. DePetris