Subscribe to the magazine
 
 
Which would be worse: Iran developing a nuclear weapon, or waging a war to prevent it? An examination of both scenarios: 

Given the momentousness of such an endeavor and how much prominence the Iranian nuclear issue has been given, one might think that talk about exercising the military option would be backed up by extensive analysis of the threat in question and the different ways of responding to it. But it isn’t. Strip away the bellicosity and political rhetoric, and what one finds is not rigorous analysis but a mixture of fear, fanciful speculation, and crude stereotyping. There are indeed good reasons to oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, and likewise many steps the United States and the international community can and should take to try to avoid that eventuality. But an Iran with a bomb would not be anywhere near as dangerous as most people assume, and a war to try to stop it from acquiring one would be less successful, and far more costly, than most people imagine.

"We Can Live with a Nuclear Iran." — Paul Pillar, Washington Monthly
See also: "The Sabotaging of Iran." — Financial Times Staff, Financial Times, Feb. 11, 2011

Which would be worse: Iran developing a nuclear weapon, or waging a war to prevent it? An examination of both scenarios: 

Given the momentousness of such an endeavor and how much prominence the Iranian nuclear issue has been given, one might think that talk about exercising the military option would be backed up by extensive analysis of the threat in question and the different ways of responding to it. But it isn’t. Strip away the bellicosity and political rhetoric, and what one finds is not rigorous analysis but a mixture of fear, fanciful speculation, and crude stereotyping. There are indeed good reasons to oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, and likewise many steps the United States and the international community can and should take to try to avoid that eventuality. But an Iran with a bomb would not be anywhere near as dangerous as most people assume, and a war to try to stop it from acquiring one would be less successful, and far more costly, than most people imagine.

"We Can Live with a Nuclear Iran." — Paul Pillar, Washington Monthly

See also: "The Sabotaging of Iran." — Financial Times Staff, Financial Times, Feb. 11, 2011