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Re: Nuclear Scenarios for Iran

As Emanuele Ottolenghi already reported, Hillary Clinton said today in Thailand that in response to the Iranian nuclear program, the U.S. might extend a “defense umbrella” over the Middle East:

We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf,” she said, “it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.

For such an umbrella to have any impact on a nuclear-armed Iran, it would have to be nuclear — i.e., the U.S. would have to pledge to use its own nuclear arsenal against Iran if Iran were to nuke any neighboring state. This is the counsel of despair because it implicitly admits the likelihood that Iran will go nuclear. And, while sounding tough-minded, this provision actually would be unlikely to provide the security we need.

This isn’t the first time that Hillary has raised the idea. She talked about it during the campaign too, apparently picking up on a notion floated by the estimable Charles Krauthammer. Earlier this year, in a Financial Times op-ed, I explained why it’s a bad idea. It may be worth rereading now.


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