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Sunday, December 8, 2013

George Will, "Containing Iran is the least awful choice": Dead Wrong

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Containing Iran is the least awful choice" (, George Will argues in favor of containment regarding Iran's nuclear weapons development program. Repeatedly citing Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, Will contends:

"In September 2012, the Senate voted 90 to 1 for a nonbinding resolution 'ruling out any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.' The implication was that containment is a tepid and passive policy. But it was not such during the 45 years the United States contained the Soviet Union.

. . . .

Pollack believes that, were it not for Israel 'repeatedly sounding the alarm,” Iran “probably would have crossed the nuclear threshold long ago.' But if a nuclear Iran is for Israel unthinkable because it is uncontainable, Israel’s only self-reliant recourse — a nuclear attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — is unthinkable. And, Pollack thinks, unnecessary. The existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is a sufficient deterrent: The Iranian leadership is 'aggressive, anti-American, anti-status quo, anti-Semitic, duplicitous, and murderous, but it is not irrational, and overall, it is not imprudent.'

. . . .

The logic of nuclear deterrence has not yet failed in the 64 years since the world acquired its second nuclear power. This logic does not guarantee certainty, but, says Pollack, 'the small residual doubt cannot be allowed to be determinative.' His basic point is: 'Our choices are awful, but choose we must.' Containment is the least awful response to Iran’s coming nuclear capability."

Observe that Will's argument is based upon Pollack's belief that Iran is "not imprudent" and that containment, i.e. mutually assured destruction, can prevent an Iranian nuclear attack. Well, I would ask both Will and Pollack if they have ever witnessed a suicide bombing perpetrated by a Shiite (or Sunni) Muslim. I would then ask if they have ever witnessed a suicide bombing perpetrated by a Russian (not a Chechen Muslim) over the "64 years since the world acquired its second nuclear power." Whereas there have been thousands of Muslim suicide bombings, I don't recall any such bombings perpetrated by Russians.

The readiness of a radical theocratic regime, i.e. Iran, to ask its citizens to commit suicide on behalf of the state should not cause us concern whether Iran itself would be willing to commit national suicide in a future nuclear war?

Have Pollack and Will ever witnessed the stoning to death of a woman for adultery in Iran or the hanging of a homosexual from a crane in the center of Tehran? Perhaps they would argue that such acts are "mere" evidence of Iran's "duplicitous" and "murderous" tendencies.

But I would then ask them if Russia ever threatened Israel with annihilation. We should regard Iranian threats against Israel as mere blather? After all, Iran is "not imprudent" (akin to Roger Cohen's claim that Iran is "not totalitarian"). Yeah, right.

It is worth noting that in 2002, so-called Middle East expert Pollack wrote a book entitled The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. I think it is more than fair to say that the premise of this book proved mistaken. The Second Gulf War in 2003 did not discover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, destroyed the Iraq/Iran equilibrium in the Middle East, and cost the US the lives of more than 4,400 soldiers at a price of hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, when all know, including Wendy Sherman, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Pollack advocates "containment"?

Rely on containment of a nuclear Iran? Sorry, George, you're dead wrong this time.


  1. I don't follow George Will, but have some memories of him from the time I had TV (in the previous century) and occasionally had a glimpse of the bozo.
    So, he now relies on the opinions of the Brookings Institution crowd. When it is convenient. And why is it convenient for our Georgie to like Iran now? I think I can make an educated (very much so - area of expertise) guess. Boy, these people are repulsive.

  2. Hi JG,

    You're probably already aware of Tobin-at-Commentary's similar rebuttal to WIll (at

    Like you I'm generally in agreement with Will -- but we all can trip up every now and then.

    In any case, I'm writing to make a tangential point to a remark you made: that of seeing a homosexual hanged from a crane. First, G-d knows, I have *never* allowed myself to watch the stoning of a woman -- there are apparently a few of these videos around -- but for the life of me I cannot bring myself to watch any of them.

    As regards the hanging videos however, I did bring myself to watch one, or perhaps two. I can say that in retrospect, I wish I didn't.

    It was *horrific*!!! This poor man at being pushed around and "outfitted" with a noose at by worker-men who appeared to be only vaguely interested in what they were doing. Only as interested as a garbageman in picking up the trash.

    The ambient noise of a truck idling (the Homosexual was standing on a flatbed truck), and the growls and barks of the men milling about preparing the arrangements were all one hears. The victim did not make a sound.

    The entire thing *sickened* me to no end! I wish I could purge it from my visual memory. The seeming nonchalance with which the men did their work was particularly distressing to me.

    I ultimately forced myself to watch it not out of any sick fascination (if so, I'd have watched several more since) -- but rather, out of an obligation to at least watch... to witness one man going to his death in this terrible way.

    No, I do not think he fell far enough to break his neck -- assuming anyone is interested. This is critical for obvious reasons (and for those reasons the Nazis "perfected" the practice of 3-inch drops in a hanging).
    -- FF