This author provides a number of reasons we should not worry even if the prospect of Iran possessing nukes is "distasteful."
One, he says Iran is very rational and would never risk a nuclear counter-attack by attacking Israel.
Two, Iran wouldn't kill hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to kill Jews.
Three, Iran's pursuit of allies around the world proves they are rational and not bent on nuclear Armageddon.
Four, Iran would never transfer nukes to another party who would use them against Israel because we could track the nuke back to Iran, and Iran wouldn't risk a nuclear counter-attack.
Five, Iran wouldn't trust another party with nukes, given the amount of control Iran held over Hezbollah's weapons in southern Lebanon in 2006.
Six, giving nukes to Hezbollah would just prompt Israel to invade to seize the nukes and Lebanese would reject Hezbollah over the threat holding nukes would provoke.
Seven, given that Iran is already an aggressive sponsor of terror, how would a nuclear shield make them more aggressive?
Eight, the loss of Syria as a client state with access to Hezbollah might make nuclear weapons pointless.
In the end:
Iran has done enough to worry its neighbours. However, careful and multifaceted political containment is the best way to oppose Tehran, not a military onslaught that will unite Iranians, strengthen their leaders, spawn great and small wars, and ultimately alter little. An Iran with the bomb is thoroughly undesirable, but it is not the existential calamity it has been made out to be.
To which I can only reply, is he insane! We may have uncertainty about what kind of calamity Iran with nukes will be, but it will be a calamity, whether it is immediately existential or not.
Let's address his objections.
One, Iran is certainly rational--mostly. It was irrational for Iran to provoke American intervention in the Tanker War in 1987. For years Iran was rational and did nothing to draw us into the war. Until they did to their utter misfortune.
And even if Iran is mostly rational, do we know who will be in a position to make the decision about using nukes? We know that Iran isn't rational all the time. Do we have confidence that all factions of Iran will be rational all the time? Do they really believe we would retaliate with nukes at all? Do they really believe that Israel can retaliate with enough power to destroy Iran?
Further, how do they define "rational?" How many involuntary martyrs would fanatics rationally calculate (by their definition of rational and not our definition) is acceptable?
Two, why would Iran care about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians? First, the idea of involuntary martyrs could color their thinking. Second, these are Arabs and not Persians. And third, during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran repeatedly asserted that their war with Saddam was meant to go through Iraq in order to get at Israel. So Iran was more than willing to kill perhaps two hundred thousand Iraqis in order to have the chance to kill Jews. Call me cynical, but I think Iran is more than willing to fight Israel to the last Arab.
Three, so what if Iran conducts traditional diplomacy? I'm sure many mass murderers went to work dutifully the weeks before their killing spree and maybe even made a doctor's appointment for the next month. Nobody is saying that Iran is totally irrational. And who says Iran isn't conducting rational diplomacy because they don't know when they will finally get their game-changing nukes?
Further, wouldn't Iran's efforts to make friends receive quite the boost if they have the prestige of having nuclear weapons after defying the world's powers?
Wouldn't Iran under the mullahs seem like the strong horse that many Moslems desperately want, and give Iran added ability to be aggressive by subversion rather than nuclear attack or even conventional attack shielded by nukes? Iran will have more options with state-to state and subnational diplomacy if they have nukes.
Four, in part this argument rests on the power of deterrence. If that first rationality argument is wrong, this is, too.
Five, this ignores that we don't know if every faction in Iran wouldn't trust Hezbollah with nukes. If the only faction in Iran that wants Hezbollah to have nukes manages to be the faction with access to a nuke for even a short time, Hezbollah might get a nuke regardless of what "Iran" thinks.
The example of Hezbollah in 2006 is puzzling given that Iran did apparently allow Hezbollah to bombard Israel. How is this reassuring one bit? Fine, maybe Iran ships along a crew of Revolutionary Guards to protect and use a nuke. Why does Lebanon 2006 prove that crew won't use them under orders from Tehran?
Further, this ignores the eventual risk of proliferation multiplying the access points for nukes. If Iran goes nuclear, even if nuclear deterrence applies to Iran--perhaps especially if deterrence applies--other states in the region will go nuclear. In addition to the increased risk of an accidental nuclear war, the risk of nuts getting nukes skyrockets. This doesn't even require Iran to want to nuke Israel.
Six, why would Lebanese rationally blame Iran or Hezbollah if Israel invades? Isn't that what Israel counted on when they attacked Lebanon's infrastructure from the air in 2006? How'd that work out, blamewise. Good grief, jihadis from Gaza murdered Egyptian soldiers in Sinai this week and most Egyptians and Arabs blame Israel!
Further, unless Israel can grab that nuke fast, wouldn't Iran just pretend that nuking Israel is a justified response to that invasion?
Seven, this is actually a defense? Iran is already so awful that they can't get more awful? One, that is an argument for targeting the mullah regime rather than just the symptom of Iran's nuclear program. Two, I think the author has a failure of imagination if he thinks that Iran won't be bolder once they get the shield of nuclear weapons. Good grief, how many outrages have the Iranians gotten away with against nuclear armed America, Britain, and Israel while Iran has no nuclear weapons? Iran will have so many more options for aggressiveness at every level of aggression with the shield of nuclear weapons that it boggles the mind to believe Iran won't use them.
Eight, hurting Iran a little eliminates the threat of their nukes ... how?
Once Iran gets nuclear weapons mounted on missiles, Iran won't even need to think of using Hezbollah to nuke Israel. And unless we work to eliminate Hezbollah, Iran will pay the price to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah by sea and air without the convenience of the Syria route.
Be happy that the loss of Syria will weaken Iran, but Iran will still exist and that Iran will gain more with nukes than they'll lose from the overthrow of Assad.
I tried to measure deterrence with Iran, and I can't say that I can comfortably say that Iran could be deterred.
We may be uncertain about what calamities can happen, but so many calamities can happen that the odds of something really bad happening if Iran gets nukes are certainly high. I wouldn't risk any of them despite the uncertainty and the risks of action. Containing Iran under the mullahs is insanity.