Uncommon Sense

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Iran is Not a Threat to the US

Iran is not a threat to the United States. Period. Full stop. End of sentence.

Some American commentators and politicians compare Iran today to Germany in the 1930s, and their President Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler. Even President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney do it; their foreign policy debate a few months back largely consisted of them one-upping each other in being "tough" on Iran.

They're wrong. There are many evil men in the world. Few have the ability to harm the US, and Ahmadinejad isn't one of them.

People say he'll be much more dangerous if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. But Iran is not likely to use their one or two bombs against the US (5000 nuclear warheads) or Israel (200-300 nukes), because the price would be every city in Iran. Neither the Israelis nor the Americans respond lightly when attacked. (And, no matter how crazy Ahmadinejad himself is, the factions in Iran's government will keep him away from anything that puts their lives and bank accounts at risk.)

Some claim Iran might give a nuke to terrorists. Iran already has helicopters and tanks, but somehow their terrorist buddies like Hezbollah get only rifles and a few rockets. If Iran won't give them goodies like tanks, it seems unlikely they'd hand out a nuke that cost a thousand times as much to build.

Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad may be nuts and hate America. But unlike Hitler, he has no ability to wage war against a major power, and never will.
  • In 1932, Germany had the second or third biggest economy in the world (the US was first). Today, as oil revenues continue to flow, Iran is in 16th place, and the US is still first.
  • In the 1930s, Hitler quickly consolidated power to the Nazi party and his personality ruled all. Iran's government is a byzantine morass of bureaucrats, clerics and legislators; Ahmadinejad lacks dictatorial power and his faction doesn't control some of the major agencies.
  • In 1932, Germany's economy was larger than Britain's and more than one third the size of America's. Today, Iran's GDP of $810 billion is less than a tenth of America's $13 trillion.
  • Germans are great at science, engineering and manufacturing—for example, by 1932 Germans had been awarded 38 Nobel Prizes (31 in the sciences). Iran has only oil and very little industry. An Iranian activist received a Nobel Peace Prize, but no Iranian has ever earned one of the science Nobels.
  • Germany's military was one of the world's best even before Hitler took power. Against the US, Iran's army might last a week or two longer than Saddam's Republican Guards did. (Their Air Force's aging F-14s and second-line Russian fighters would be vaporized in the first hour.)
Wars are fought with soldiers, supported by industry and science. On all three counts, it's "no contest" between the US and Iran. They'd surely kill some of our troops, but Iran would suffer far more deaths and utterly lose the war. And their leaders know that.

I don't care about Ahmadinejad's rantings, and you shouldn't. Americans who bang the drum for war with Iran are wrong. Our boys and girls in the military deserve better than to die in a war started from irrational fear based on a false analogy.

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