Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Should Israel Join NATO?

Ronald D. Asmus argues that it should based on his inclination to pursue a strategy containment with Iran, rather than one of confrontation.

I have too many posts all over the blogosphere where I advocate for containment; I don't keep track of these things. Not having as much access to State Department internal documents as I would like, I am forced to speculate about the implementation of containment. I am prepared to fly by the seat of my pants, here, however.

One thing I would like to posit is: Iraq is the new Israel. Israel as a client state served as a bulwark against the last enemy we needed to contain: the Communist International as spearheaded by the U.S.S.R. Turning to Israel again is for me "too much fighting the last war", as it were.

We should remain staunch allies of Israel. I just think that, if there ever were a country we need to protect from external enemies and internal civil war, it is the newest little baby state on the world stage. Iraq has the potential to be a big thumb in the eye of the Islamofascists. Israel is all grown up -- we should send it a check every now and again. And it should call its parents every once in a while; we worry.

Second thing: if we embark on a policy of containment vis a vis Iran, I wonder if we are willing to back it up with something like a doctrine of massive retaliation? "Mutually Assured Destruction" worked as a policy of nuclear deterrence because it was clear that if either the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. launched first, the answering volley of surviving ICBM's would be beyond devastating. With containing Iran, however, we have "not missiles in the sky but a bomb smuggled into the United States on a container ship or carried with drugs across the border. Just about the only similar answer that George Bush and John Kerry gave in their first debate two years ago came when they were asked to define the "single most serious threat to American national security." Both answered, "Nuclear terrorism." In 2005 President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Homeland Security secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff all said or implied the same."

So, I look forward to hearing more about how a policy of containment is implemented in an age of nuclear terrorism. Threaten massive retaliation against a nuclear terror act by wiping out, say, Iran? Extend that protective umbrella to Israel?

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