Alan Dershowitz

We can’t attack Iran

Alan Dershowitz says that the pre-emptive assault on Iraq has given a bad name to a good idea — and will leave Iran the most dangerous nation in the world

Alan Dershowitz says that the pre-emptive assault on Iraq has given a bad name to a good idea — and will leave Iran the most dangerous nation in the world

Face it. Iran will get the bomb. It has already test-fired rockets capable of targeting the entire Middle East and much of southern Europe. And it claims to have 40,000 suicide volunteers eager to deploy terrorism — even nuclear terrorism — against its enemies. With a nuclear capacity, the Islamic Republic of Iran will instantly achieve the status of superpower to which Iraq aspired.

Nothing will deter Iran. Sanctions are paper protests to an oil-rich nation. Diplomacy has already failed because Russia and China are playing both sides. Sabotage, bribery — even assassination of nuclear scientists — may delay but will not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. That leaves military threats and, ultimately, military action.

First, consider military threats. They are already coming from two sources: the US and Israel. Neither is working, for very different reasons.

The Iranians would probably give up their nuclear weapons programme if their leaders truly believed that refusal to do so would produce an Iraq-like attack — an all-out invasion, regime change and occupation. Leaders, even religious leaders, fear imprisonment and death. Only the United States is capable of mounting such a sustained attack.

But the continuing war in Iraq has made it impossible for the US to mount a credible threat, because American public opinion would not accept a second war — or so the Iranians believe. Moreover, America’s allies in the war against Iraq — most particularly Great Britain — would not support an attack on Iran.

That is precisely why the Bush administration is barking so loudly. It wants to convince the Iranian leadership that it is preparing to bite — to attack, invade and destroy their regime, perhaps even with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

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