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  1. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    A lot of powers have the capacity to throw their regions – and even the world – into total chaos.  Indonesian jihadi groups could try something nasty in the Straits of Malacca.  Russia’s capacity for troublemaking goes without saying.  Venezuela could try something nasty in the Panama Canal zone.  Norway, Denmark (through its Greenland dominions), and Canada could get into a spat over resources in the Arctic.

    Iran is dangerous, but it is eminently controllable.  Not only is there an emergent Sunni coalition that is petrified of Iranian assertiveness, but Israel remains a strong player with a highly-trained military, excellent intelligence services, and nukes.  Further, all the chaos in the region could easily be leveraged to our advantage.  A Kurdish state might well be a fantastic buffer on Iran’s south-western border.  Making things even better, the Iranians and the Kurds are fairly friendly, and have cooperated against ISIS.  With proper encouragement (and a corresponding willingness to anger the Turks in service of a larger goal), a Kurdish state might well emerge as an important pivot point in the region – too large and prickly to swallow up, too small to harbor dreams of regional domination, and not naturally identifiable as being a solid member of either the Shi’ite or Sunni bloc.

    Further, Iran is quite vulnerable to attack at a number of points, should they decide that they actually want to try to go to war with someone.  Kharg Island currently handles 98% of Iranian crude oil exports.  During the Iran/Iraq war Saddam bombed the crud out of it, and it took decades to come back on-line.  Any renewed war would almost certainly see the destruction of the Kharg Island terminals, which would at a single stroke cripple Iran’s ability to export it’s largest source of income (45% as of 2006, and bringing in 80% of its foreign currency holdings).

    An Iranian bomb is scary, but as Sen. Cotton says, mostly because the Turks and Saudis et. al. might panic and start going after bombs of their own.  A “mexican standoff” in the region with ongoing proxy-wars is a lot less stable than Reagan and Gorbachev talking to each other over the White House-Kremlin hotline.  However, I would hesitate to call it “the greatest threat to the world today.”

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  2. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Sen. Cotton indicates that regional actors don’t even have to develop nuclear technology, they can just purchase it. I’ve thought for a very long time that this whole Iranian nuclear development issue could well be a “watch-this-hand” gambit while they simply acquire the technology from willing sellers.

    Since Ayatollah Khamenei [you know, the guy who actually makes the important decisions] is preparing for the return of the Mahdi, he’s not going to be too terribly concerned about subsequent geopolitical details if he can bring about Armageddon.

    Why is it necessarily more complex than this?

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  3. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    Eeyore:Sen. Cotton indicates that regional actors don’t even have to develop nuclear technology, they can just purchase it. I’ve thought for a very long time that this whole Iranian nuclear development issue could well be a “watch-this-hand” gambit while they simply acquire the technology from willing sellers.

    Since Ayatollah Khamenei [you know, the guy who actually makes the important decisions] is preparing for the return of the Mahdi, he’s not going to be too terribly concerned about subsequent geopolitical details if he can bring about Armageddon.

    Why is it necessarily more complex than this?

    1. The number of powers who would outright sell the Iranians nukes is small, esp. compared to the Saudis.  The Russians want Iran as a client state, and you don’t outright give your clients nukes.  SAMs and diplomatic cover, yes.  Nukes, not so much.  The Chinese seem much too fond of stability to do something that crazy.  The (Sunni) Pakistanis are no friends of the Iranians, and India seems much too sane.  That leaves the North Koreans, and while I’m fairly sure that Iran has the money and North Korea is desperate and/or crazy enough to do it, I don’t know if the North Koreans have the bomb to spare.  Besides, unless the Iranians are just dead-set on going out in a one-shot suicidal blaze of glory as soon as they can, they’ll want the capacity to make a sizeable arsenal for themselves rather than solely relying on shoddy smuggled bombs from an international pariah.

    2. We shouldn’t care what Iran says, and we definitely shouldn’t try to psychoanalyze or guess the intentions of their leaders.  We’re not in their shoes, so we have no idea what they’re really thinking. Our best option is watching what they’re actually doing.  In a fight you watch your opponent’s shoulders and hips rather than listening to him yapping about how bad he’s gonna whup you.  Iran’s actions are aggressive and domineering, but they do not appear suicidal or irrational.  As such, we shouldn’t do them the favor of letting their bluster ruffle us.  Remember, at the end of the day our military budget is literally ten times the size of theirs, and their economy has been a basket case for thirty years plus.

    • #3
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