Saying that Pakistan is a potentially bigger nuclear problem is not the same as saying that Iran isn't a nuclear problem that we should deal with. But that's exactly what Buchanan is arguing:
"Iran is not seeking to have the atomic bomb, possession of which is pointless, dangerous and is a great sin from an intellectual and a religious point of view."
Thus did supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declare in February that Iran's possession of atomic weapons would be a mortal sin against Allah.
It is also the unanimous judgment of the U.S. intelligence community, declared in 2007 and affirmed in 2011, that Iran has abandoned any program to build nuclear weapons.
Is the Ayatollah lying? Is the entire U.S. intel community wrong?
Yes on the former, and no on the latter--if you understand that our intelligence community has only narrowly said they can't detect active direct weapons aspects of Iran's nuclear program. That's a far cry from saying we conclude Iran abandoned programs to build nuclear weapons. The answer to the latter is yes, if you are actually asking what most people believe the NIE concluded.
This bears repeating: The 2007 NIE did not clear Iran of the charge it is pursuing nuclear weapons technology. Yes, I know.
Buchanan's confidence that we could detect--with enough clarity that even Buchanan admits it?--an Iranian weapons program in time attack it is touching, but ignores the reality that our record on detecting nuclear programs before they literally explode is really bad.
But having persuaded himself that Iran is no nuclear threat, Buchanan asks why we aren't more worried about Pakistan:
The Financial Times' Gideon Rachman argues that our obsession with Iran is obscuring a far greater potential threat.
Pakistan possesses perhaps 100 nuclear bombs and is building more, and anti-Americanism there is far more rampant than in Iran.
As if he would have us disarm Pakistan because he thinks they are a bigger threat! He brings up Pakistan only to argue that if we won't deal with them why should we deal with Iran?
And I'll say it again, as worrisome as Pakistan is, if Iran had a pro-American government willing to work with us (mostly), we'd consider it a triumph of foreign policy.
Buchanan's argument against attacking Iran to keep them from going nuclear is asinine, relying on this argument:
Otto von Bismarck said that preventive war was like committing suicide out of fear of death. Are we Americans headed for yet another unnecessary war?
Excuse me? In the context of nuclear weapons, this is silly. Sure, he has a point that starting a conventional war because you believe your enemy will otherwise start the war gets you a war either way--but without saying who wins. But in the context of launching a preventive war to destroy nuclear weapons capabilities, the difference is whether you get a conventional war now or a nuclear war later. We can excuse Bismarck for not considering about nuclear weapons.
Basically, Buchanan thinks we are obsessed with stopping Iran from getting what Buchanan says Iran does not want. And that we should cut some deal with Iran to just get along. I'm not sure what we talk about if Iran isn't pursuing nuclear weapons, since talking for the Iranians simply involves the West accepting Iran's nuclear rights and halting sanctions.
In the end, I hate even addressing Buchanan's complaints because deep down I assume he just blames this all on Israel. I mean, if we're talking obsessions, if Buchanan is wrong, Israel is a hole in the ground. And one more strange obsession of America is gone.
So Buchanan wouldn't want to deal with Pakistan with 100 nukes and he doesn't want to deal with Iran with zero nukes. I think I see the common thread.
Buchanan's ability to trust the mullah regime in Tehran is terrifying. He may not have learned to love the Iranian bomb, but he has learned to love doing nothing about it.