A growing number of nations and international interests are expressing alarm at Iran's seeming intent to develop nuclear weapons. But why the world thinks Iran is developing such capacity, and what is to be feared from it, remain matters in wide dispute.
Israel, of course, is most immediately threatened and is least ambiguous in its analysis. A nuclear Iran, either out of calculation that it could win a nuclear exchange with Israel, or out of a fanatical derangement, clearly poses an existential threat to Israel. No Israeli leader could risk exposing his country to such a threat, if he could avoid it.
The United States, to a substantial extent, shares the Israeli concern. But beyond that, the U.S. as the dominant world power would have primary responsibility for managing a more aggressive, harder-to-deter Iran that might feel safer in using terrorism to strike the U.S. and the West, armed with a nuclear deterrent. Also, a nuclear Iranian regime would feel safer from a combined U.S. and domestic regime change effort.
On its face, Europe would seem to be less concerned with Israel's fate and more concerned about a general disturbance to the world equilibrium (such as it is), as well as the possibly "reckless" response of Israel or the U.S. to the danger.
However, French President Jacque Chirac last week added a fascinating and unexpected element to the crisis by his barely veiled, unambiguous threat -- while visiting France's Ile Longue nuclear naval base in Normandy -- that France might use her nuclear weapons against a country that either launched a terrorist attack against France, or cut off her "strategic supplies" (i.e. oil). The French press, from left to right, immediately stated that Chirac's target was Iran.
Some of his left-wing domestic political opponents suggested he was fantacizing about France's quickly fading imperial glory, merely trying to regain his footing after his poor performance during the Muslim fire-bombing riots in Paris last fall, or trying to justify the large budget of France's "useless" nuclear force de frappe.
Other observers judge (I believe quite plausibly) that Chirac is now alive to the threat of radical Islam in France, and he is prepared to threaten to go nuclear to try to stop its encouragement from outside. Mr. Allan Topol, the noted international lawyer and author, will make that case in an exclusive article in Washington Times' op/ed page Jan. 26.
But there are other serious, if more recondite, theories arising to explain Iran's possible motives. Strategic Forecasting Inc. (Stratfor), the highly regarded Texas-based strategic analysis group, has recently presented a completely different theory.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.