Good for Sen. McCain, going after Sen. Obama like that on Iran. The Soviet Union was a superpower unlikely to attack us because retaliation would have been certain and massive. Iran may be comparatively puny, but the chance that the mullahs will actually use the weapons once they have them is geometrically greater. They may not be able to destroy the United States, but they could dwarf 9/11.
And what would we do if they did? We’ve spent years blathering about how our quarrel isn’t with the Iranian people (a mythical 80 percent of whom, we’re periodically assured, really despise their regime and may revolt any day now). So far as our rhetoric goes, Iranians are innocent victims. If Iran launched a nuclear attack against us or our allies, would we really turn the place into a parking lot — which would have devastating consequences for neighboring states? I’m not convinced we would — and I’m betting I’m a lot more rational than Ahmadinejad in that my calculations are not affected by the likelihood of the Mahdi’s long-awaited arrival.
Which again raises the issue of motivation. Ahmadinejad and his cohort are apocalyptic jihadi revolutionaries. Shouldn’t what they believe be analyzed and factored in as we try to assess the threat that they pose? Or would that offend moderates too much? It seems awfully silly to compare them to the Soviet Union when, with the latter, we had a deterrence policy — Mutually Assured Destruction — that was explicitly based not only on the size of the enemy arsenal but on whether, given his motivations, he was likely to act. Obama appears content to calculate based on the size of the arsenal, period. That’s not MAD, but it’s madness.