Monday, February 01, 2010

Block those Iranian missiles!

Sunday's NYT fronts"U.S. Speeding Up Missile Defenses in Persian Gulf" by David Sanger and Eric Schmitt. It says:
The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.
Ok why do they have to do this anonymously? Anyway, the article later tells us:
By highlighting the defensive nature of the buildup, the administration was hoping to avoid a sharp response from Tehran.
And therein lies the problem.

A missile defense weakens or eliminates the other country's deterrent capability. That means we can attack them without worrying that they will shoot back. Whether we then attack them or not, they are understandably freaked out.

It's hard to imagine that Sanger and Schmitt don't understand the very basics of weapons proliferation, seeing as they cover this stuff, and don't get that just about any missile defense system is inherently, even if not on purpose, an offensive move (while also a defensive one). Yet they say nothing about it, reporting that this is just a defensive move.

(The NYT isn't alone here, though they were given the story first; see also Reuters, WSJ. The Independent gets it -- "likely to fuel concerns of an arms race among mutually suspicious regimes in the region.")

The whole point is that even if, let's say, the Obama Administration doesn't plan on bombing Iran, maybe some future administration would. This 'defensive' action is, on purpose or not, a long-term offensive threat to Iran.

One potential implication is that Iran, in response to an increased threat, would work to overcome that threat by building more weapons. This isn't how-crazy-dictators-think; hardly. It's more like international relations 201.

In fact, you could even argue that if Tehran didn't act in response to this action, it'd be crazy, and threatening the safety of its people.


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