Friday, September 5, 2008

Iran and MAD

In this post, I linked to a couple of old articles by Michael Kinsley regarding Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the strategic missile defense. I think how he used his argument against strategic missile defense was flawed for the reasons I pointed out in that post. However, having said that, I think his argument framed properly and used it in the context of Iran leads to an undeniable conclusion that at some point in the near future the logic of MAD dictates that it is in the strategic interest of America and Israel to unleash a nuclear first strike against Iran (I am not advocating a nuclear first strike against Iran, I am merely trying to point out what the logic of MAD dictates).

Kinsley argument is basically that MAD dictates that if a nation is in a position of use or lose it with their nuclear weapons they should use their nuclear weapons. However, that is not the logic of MAD. The logic of MAD is that you should use your nuclear weapons when it is in your strategic advantage to use them.

So, how does the logic of MAD dictate that America and Israel should launch a nuclear first strike against Iran? Because once Iran gains nuclear weapons both America and Israel would be in a position of hoping Iran respects the logic of MAD when Iran has shown signs that they do not respect the logic of MAD. To avoid this, America and Israel could try to halt the Iranian nuclear program. However, this entails 2 problems. The first is that such attacks are not certain to halt the Iranian drive to acquire nuclear weapons. The second is that such an attack will undoubtedly result in costly counter strikes by Iran. The logic of MAD dictates that these costly counter attacks and the uncertainty over Iran's willingness to respect the logic of MAD should just be avoided by unleashing a nuclear first strike against Iran. Once again, I am not advocating such an attack, I am merely pointing out what the logic of MAD dictates.