Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Iran Problem

The Economist: Next stop Iran?

PESSIMISTS think they have seen something like this before. Iran has a nuclear programme that outsiders say is designed to produce a bomb, but which the Iranians insist is not. America is making threatening noises. Some outsiders—such as a group of British think-tanks which released a report on the matter on Monday February 5th—worry that a military confrontation could provoke a yet nastier situation in which civilians are the main victims once again.

There are as many differences as similarities this time around, when compared with Iraq. Whereas Saddam Hussein’s supposed chemical and biological weapons wereamong the stated reasons for America’s invasion of Iraq, Iran raises the scarier prospect of getting a nuclear bomb within a few years. Such a weapon in the hands of a leadership that rejects Israel’s right to exist concerns Westerners, just as an overly powerful Iran troubles many neighbours in the region. But nobody thinks America would invade Iran; far more likely, any strike would come only from the sky, and perhaps then conducted by America’s ally, Israel. America’s new secretary of defence, Robert Gates, was recently at pains to state that “we are not planning for a war with Iran.”

If anything, I would agree that a strike would come from the air - and devastate Iran's known nuclear sites. However, even that scenario is unlikey, since we have our hands full in Iraq, and a Presidential election year is less than two years away.

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