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Sunday, October 31, 2004

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Ethan Stock

A couple of quick points in reply:

1) There is a dynamic of emerging regional powers of which the U.S. would do well to take advantage. Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil, India, China, and yes, Iran, are all "new" powers on the world stage, and all have signficiant resources of manpower, money, and increasingly modern global-class technologies of government and arms in place. The U.S. is relying upon Nigerian troops to keep the peace in African hotspots; we should be thinking about how to extend this trend, bringing a whole new rank of powers into an expanded global first rank. This is pragmatic as much as anything else; just as the "freshman effect" in so many different venues means that the new guys do a lot of the hard work, presumably a Nigeria or Brazil will be willing to bear that extra bit of the burden to prove that it belongs. Holding out the carrot of an expanded Secuity Council should be an exellent longer-term strategy; something along the lines of the 20-30 year process the EU has just gone through to cajole its various joining members into accepting the Western trifecta of socially moderated capitalism, individual rights, and democracy.

2) The issue is not to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The issue is to make sure that Iran is a responsible steward of the nuclear weapons which it will inevitably acquire. We are not at all alarmed that France, a country with a mind of its own, and a population and GDP not entirely dissimilar from Iran*, has nuclear weapons. This is because we trust the French to (not) use them responsibly. We are, frankly, pissing into the wind if we want the largest, richest, most culturally sophisticated, most historically important, most presently vulnerable (to Israel; to Pakistan; to the United States) country in the Middle East to foreswear the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and we'd be better off not trying.

* France: 60.5m population, 550k sq. km. area, $1670 billion GDP. Iran: 69m population, 1700 sq. km area, $500 billion GDP.

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