Waltz's piece -- prominently featured on the cover of the Council on Foreign Relations' flagship journal -- is headlined "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb" . The US government and its allies in Europe, Israel, and the Arab world may regard the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran may as the gravest security threat the world currently faces. But Waltz, a leader of the neo-realist school of international relations, urges all of them to take a chill pill. Nukes in the hands of the mullahs would not be the worst outcome of the present crisis, he argues. "In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."
In a nutshell, Waltz's view is that what makes the Middle East dangerously unstable is that while Israel has nuclear weapons, its most fanatical enemies don't. "It is Israel's nuclear arsenal, not Iran's desire for one, that has contributed most to the current crisis," he writes. "Power, after all, begs to be balanced."
But wouldn't a violent and extremist regime like Iran's -- a key patron of international terrorism, a brutal suppressor of human rights, an exporter of jihad, and an open exponent of wiping Israel "off the map" -- be even more dangerous if its ballistic missiles were topped with nuclear warheads? On the contrary, says Waltz: "History shows that when countries acquire the bomb, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware that their nuclear weapons make them a potential target in the eyes of major powers. This awareness discourages nuclear states from bold and aggressive action."
Nor does Waltz lie awake at night worrying about a nuclear proliferation spiral should Tehran get the bomb. "Once Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, deterrence will apply," he assures his readers. "No other country in the region will have an incentive to acquire its own nuclear capability, and the current crisis will finally dissipate."