Chirac said it wouldn’t be very dangerous for Iran to have nuclear weapons, reminding everyone why it is very dangerous for world leaders to say things they didn’t think out. The main question about Iran isn’t whether it’s appropriate for it to have nuclear weapons; it’s whether there’s an urgent issue at stake, and whether war is the right solution.
French President Jacques Chirac has said it would not be very dangerous for Iran to have a nuclear bomb, but later retracted the remark, according to an interview with two U.S. newspapers and a French magazine published on Thursday.
Chirac spoke to reporters from the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur earlier this week, and in initial comments said Tehran would be razed to the ground if Iran launched a nuclear attack against Israel.
I presume Chirac doesn’t want any war involving Iran. In that case, it’s in his interest not to start talking about Iranian nukes as if they’re right around the corner. The most salient feature of the Iran situation is that Iran is years away from a nuclear bomb, which means it’s beneficial to ignore the issue until the two warmongering saber-rattlers, Bush and Ahmadinejad, are out of office.
Whenever someone goes on about the consequences of a nuclear Iran, he plays to the misconception that political calculus from 2007 is at all relevant to it. In 2007, the situation is that Iran has a conservative government with a radical loudmouth who thinks he’s in charge, Israel has a Prime Minister who’s under fire for being a pansy, Iraq is in a civil war situation in which the Iranian-backed Shi’as are winning, and the US has a lame duck President and seven politicians vying to replace him. The only one of the four that has any chance of remaining the same by 2012 is Iraq.
Chirac is trying to fight the last war, i.e. the political battle to prevent the War on Iraq. And he’s failing miserably, because there is no analog of the argument that Saddam had no WMD. Given that all three players – Bush, Ahmadinejad, and Olmert – are extremely unpopular in their respective countries, the best argument is that it’s safe to delay acting on the situation.
Chances are the situation will resolve itself by 2010, with a democratic revolution in Iran. In that case Israel will still complain about Iranian nukes, but nobody will take it seriously. If the situation doesn’t resolve itself, then it will warrant attention, based on parameters from 2010 rather than 2007 (for example, Iran’s either hit or about to hit its oil peak).