The Logical Fallacies of Appeasing Iran
Cohen's second error: applying a false comparison between Iran and Pakistan. This point has been raised for years -- and as current realities stand, it has never made less sense. Pakistan is an immense challenge, but the problem it poses to the world is one of intrastate warfare: a government incapable or unwilling to impose its sovereignty over all of its territory. In other words, there are factions within Pakistan that are openly hostile to the United States. But the government itself, led by President Zardari, is at least publicly an ally in this joint effort.
In Iran, however, the government itself is openly adversarial. All apparatuses of the state fall under the dominion of Ayatollah Khamenei, a murderous old man who does not think within our geopolitical constructs. Should the Pakistani government ever fall to al-Qaeda-linked clerics, then Cohen's parallel would make a semblance of sense.
His third error: applying moral equivalence between a liberal democracy and a ruthless theocracy, while advocating Cold War doctrine to an inherently asymmetrical conflict. Israel's nuclear program is morally and politically superior to Iran's program, just as France's nuclear program is acceptable and North Korea's program is not.
Additionally, deterring what Thomas Friedman once coined "the undeterrables" is impossible, particularly given the fact that Iran could sell or proliferate its nuclear expertise to other rogue entities, black market networks, or terrorist groups. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, one of the last great comedic wits: Iran doesn't have to shoot the nuclear three-pointer; they could pass off the assist to their teammates, instead.
Which brings us to President Obama, who has consistently and deferentially referred to Iran as the "Islamic Republic" -- perhaps subliminally signaling that we seek no regime change and recognize the political legitimacy of the ruling clerics. This is worrisome, especially given the news that Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau indicted Le Fang Wei, a Chinese financier, for duping several American banks and peddling nuclear materials to the mullahs.
Reportedly, Fang Wei set up four bogus import-export companies that worked with six Iranian shell firms, with the largest recipient believed to be a subsidiary of the Iranian defense ministry.
There were some 58 transactions in all, including shipments of banned materials from Beijing to Tehran between 2006 and 2008. Among them: 33,000 pounds of a specialized aluminum alloy (used in long-range missile production), 66,000 pounds of tungsten copper plate (used in missile guidance systems), and 53,900 pounds of maraging steel rods (an incredibly hard metal used in uranium enrichment to make the casings for nuclear bombs).
Herein lies the asymmetry to Iran's nuclear pursuits: if their military program is shut down, they will continue to secretly weaponize their "civilian" nuclear program; if that is shut down, they will acquire atomic materials through third parties -- sometimes, as in this case, from within the borders of the Great Satan itself -- and across the black market; if those efforts are stifled, the mullahs will ascertain the bomb from their rogue allies in Pyongyang or elsewhere.
There are many avenues the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad-Rafsanjani regime may travel, all of which must lead to a U.S.-led roadblock at the nuclear intersection. But there is no evidence that this will be the case. More than three years ago, Joe Biden, then in the Senate, told the Israelis they would eventually have to accept a nuclear-armed Iran. Today, Vice President Biden warns Israel not to take action against Iran's nuclear program.
This is untenable. Mr. Obama must be wary of these insufficient Cohen-like rationalizations and avoid falling prey to their deceptions. He must understand the urgency of the situation, for if he votes "present" on this issue as well, there will be repercussions to pay.