February 3, 2006

MARK STEYN ON IRAN: He’s not very positive.

UPDATE: Lee Harris:

There is an important law about power that is too often overlooked by rational and peace-loving people. Any form of power, from the most primitive to the most mind-boggling, is always amplified enormously when it falls into the hands of those whose behavior is wild, erratic, and unpredictable. A gun being waved back and forth by a maniac is far more disturbing to us than the gun in the holster of the policeman, though both weapons are equally capable of shooting us dead. And what is true of guns is far more true in the case of nukes.

That is why nuclear weapons in an Iran dominated by a figure like its current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad make us more nervous than nuclear weapons in the hands of the Swiss. Both could make big explosions; but the Iranian bomb would tend to keep us awake thinking in the night, while the Swiss atomic bomb would be as threatening as a cuckoo-clock. This does not mean that Iran has to use the bomb; it doesn’t. All Iran has to do to make people wonder if it might use it — and many of us are already pondering that question, thanks to the disturbingly bellicose rhetoric of Ahmadinejad.

It is an immense form of power simply to make other people wonder if you might not do something bad and unpleasant to them.

A corollary is that the United States probably needs to be scarier and less predictable itself.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, of course, Frank J. was way ahead of us on this. As always.

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