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January 16, 2008

The Case Of The Missing Option

American politicians continually say "all options" are on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. They won't even rule out the first use of nuclear weapons ourselves. Now here's Ehud Olmert:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday Israel would consider "all options" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, lending a stronger tone to his comments on the Islamic Republic's atomic programme...

"Regarding the threat of nuclear Iran, all options are on the table," an official quoted Olmert as telling parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

"Israel cannot reconcile itself with a nuclear Iran and there is no option which we are ruling out in advance," Olmert said, according to the official, who has a mandate to brief the media on the prime minister's comments to the committee.

Of course, American and Israeli politicians are never asked the glaringly, screamingly obvious question: when you say that all options are on the table, does that include Israel (or America) getting rid of their own nuclear weapons?

After all, if Israel offered to disarm, the international pressure (particularly from the rest of the mideast) on Iran to halt any nuclear activity would likely be unstoppable. So if the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons is so unbelievably dangerous that we'd consider nuking them first to prevent it, you'd think we'd also consider whether this would be a better option. But apparently not.

It's a real tribute to the American media that they manage to avoid this. The staff at the NY Times and CBS are worth every penny.

EARLIER: Back in 2003, when Syria proposes a WMD-free mideast, America explains the idea is "ill-timed."

EARLIER: After the CIA's Duelfer report confirms Iraq had no WMD, George Bush explains that the report also says Saddam Hussein had "the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

From the Duelfer report:

Saddam briefed senior officials on several occasions saying, “We do not intend or aspire to return to our previous programs to produce WMD, if the Security Council abides by its obligations pertaining to these resolutions [UNSCR 687, paragraph 14].” Saddam reiterated this point in a cabinet meeting in 2002, according to Dr. Humam ‘Abd-al-Khaliq ‘Abd-al Ghafur, the former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

[Minister of Military Industrialization] Huwaysh believed that Saddam would base his decision regarding future Iraqi WMD development on how the Security Council followed through on its promise in paragraph 14 to establish “in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.” If this promise was not fulfilled, Iraq should be free to act in its own interests.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 16, 2008 03:48 PM

NO-ONE in any government organization, anywhere, is ACTUALLY looking for peace in the Middle East, or even accidently making any effort in that noble direction. Of course, the victims and their families may want peace but, as usual, their opinion is neither wanted nor concidered.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 16, 2008 05:55 PM

Since "all options" is implicitly a nuclear threat towards a non-nuclear country, and so itself a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it'd be strange to include the option of fulfilling our obligations under the NPT in the same universe of options. Then again, the translation agencies seem to have problems with communicating ideas back and forth between Iran and the West without inserting one perversion or another, so maybe the Iranians have been cooperating with the IAEA under the mistaken assumption that our willingness to persue "all options" is an offer to fulfill our end of the agreement, rather than of nuclear holocaust.

Posted by: buermann at January 16, 2008 06:43 PM

they would do anything to prevent Iranian nukes
but they won't do that.

Posted by: meatloaf at January 16, 2008 11:23 PM

Connect the Dots

To work with the following puzzle, you need to print it out on a piece of paper first, and make it bigger. Most readers of A Tiny Revolution are probably familiar with it, but you may have young acquaintances with whom you can share it at some point.


o o o
o o o
o o o

You can see a better version of the puzzle, and the answer, at

To solve this problem, it is necessary to expand the frame of reference beyond that conventionally assumed ("think outside the box").


The expanded frame of reference you suggest, Jonathan, will probably be seen someday by the world's statespersons. The list of cities that begins "Hiroshima, Nagasaki" might be a bit longer before that day arrives.

May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 17, 2008 08:37 AM

Setting aside what "all options" actually means (as buermann pointed out), there's not just one missing option but a host of them:

1) Apology
2) Reparations
3) Non-aggression pledge
4) Withdrawal of all US forces in the Middle East
5) etc, etc, etc...

None of which are any less likely than Israel or the US giving up their nuclear arsenals, and all of which would have an immediate positive effect.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 17, 2008 12:21 PM

American politicians continually say "all options" are on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  They won't even rule out the first use of nuclear weapons ourselves.

I actually misread this to say, "they won't even rule out the use of nuclear weapons on ourselves."  Notably, this is also true.

Posted by: Dayv at January 21, 2008 02:37 PM