Last night Virginia Tech National Capital Region hosted Dr Paul Pillar who was a former deputy head of the CIA. He spoke on the topic: Can We Live with a Nuclear Iran?, answering with an affirmative position. The talk drew upon an article he published recently in The Washington Monthly.
The official Obama administration position is that it is unacceptable that Iran acquires a nuclear bomb. Containment is not an option. Israel’s current government, obviously, has been banging the drum on this issue over the last year and has challenged Obama publicly, and in Congress, in a way that seems to have worked in the short term. Obama made the forceful policy announcement at AIPAC’s annual conference in early March, and has worked hard to keep Israel’s most fervent supporters in Congress and outside on his side, and tried to block the issue of ‘weakness towards Israel’ becoming an issue for the general election in swing states.
Tomasky wrote at the time that this speech made war inevitable. He’s right to the extent that the issues are extremely dangerous. It seems there is a delicate balancing game being played here between the politics of the issue and the estimates in the field of intelligence (in Israel and the United States). The degree to which that latter domain can withstand political pressure is once again an issue. This game could go wrong if there is no progress in P5 + 1 talks, which met in Istanbul in April and meet next in Baghdad from what I understand from Pillar’s talk.
Lots of rich material here for deep exploration, deconstruction and critical analysis.