The Western world is united in efforts to prevent Iran from enriching uranium to weapons-grade level and creating nuclear weapons. Sanctions are being ratcheted up and Iran's financial sector is increasingly isolated. In the current (July-August) issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Waltz offers a contrary view, "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb"; he argues that this is "most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."A balance-of-power political scientist, Waltz believes that instability in the ME derives from "Israel's regional nuclear monopoly, which has proved remarkable durable for the past four decades, has long fueled instability in the Middle East. In no other region of the world does a lone unchecked nuclear state exist. It is Israel's nuclear arsenal, not Iran's desire for one, that has contributed most to the current crisis. Power, after all, bets to be balanced. What is surprising about the Israeli case is that is has taken so long for a potential balancer to emerge."The number of debatable points in that paragraph and the fact that he doesn't seriously discuss proliferation if Iran gets the bomb (e.g., Turkey, Sauda Arabia, Iraq), shouldn't deter us from considering the possibility--especially given the alternative of an attack by the U.S., the fall-out from increasingly harsh sanctions, and, that fact that Foreign Affairs published the article, suggests that the FP establishment is thinking about this. Foreign Affairs (pdf for purchase, $2.95, or visit your dentist!)Stephen M. Walt comments on the article on his blog.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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