Danielle Pletka, a spokesperson on foreign policy for the Republican PR firm AEI, explains the threat from a nuclearized Iran:
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem.
As MJ Rosenberg points out at that link, this is rather a departure from the usual talking points: “But what about the hysteria about a second Holocaust? … What about all of these pronouncements that Iran must be prevented from developing a nuclear weapons because the apocalyptic mullahs would happily commit national suicide in order to destroy Israel?”
Pletka’s point is rather like the NRA’s argument that the recent absence of gun control legislation is a “massive Obama conspiracy to destroy the Second Amendment”.
As to the issue at hand here, there is a massive amount of ambiguity as to what Iran is doing on its nuclear program, as Jeffrey Lewis’s interlocutor explains here. There are serious doubts about how much we can do with a military attack on Iran to prevent it from advancing its program, as Gary Sick points out, quoting Sec. Panetta:
Part of the problem here is the concern that at best, I think – talking to my friends – the indication is that at best it might postpone it maybe one, possibly two years. It depends on the ability to truly get the targets that they’re after. Frankly, some of those targets are very difficult to get at.
That kind of, that kind of shot would only, I think, ultimately not destroy their ability to produce an atomic weapon, but simply delay it – number one. Of greater concern to me are the unintended consequences, which would be that ultimately it would have a backlash and the regime that is weak now, a regime that is isolated would suddenly be able to reestablish itself, suddenly be able to get support in the region, and suddenly instead of being isolated would get the greater support in a region that right now views it as a pariah.
Thirdly, the United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases. Fourthly – there are economic consequences to that attack – severe economic consequences that could impact a very fragileeconomy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States.
And lastly I think that the consequence could be that we wouldhave an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret. …