Monday, August 11, 2008

Podcast of the Week

Bueno de Mesquita on Iran and Threats to U.S. Security

Deterrence. Fashionable at the moment for people to think the Israelis will take out the Iranians or that the Iranians are crazy and will attack Israel if they have a chance. Look at world history: very, very large number of international disputes since the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, many of which rose to the level of wars. Divide world into subgroups depending on possession of nuclear weapons or access to them via allies, etc. and plot probability of their becoming violent, see virtually nothing at the nuclear level; you only get war when there is no nuclear deterrence. Unlikely Iran would be different. Iranian leadership has been in power almost 30 years; little evidence of their irrationality. Shah. Muammar Gaddafi, depicted as irrational, rolled tanks to the border of Libya but didn't go over. Know how to stay in power but don't take undue risks. Much of U.S. foreign policy has been focused on making sure that no one else gets a nuclear weapon that doesn't already have one. Should we be so vigilant? 1982, article joint with William Riker, "Assessing the Merits of Selective Nuclear Proliferation", took positive rather than normative position--how does the world work as opposed to how should it work--to explain mutual deterrence. Why is the U.S. opposed to nuclear proliferation? Answer was that either you believe in deterrence or you believe you are willing to sacrifice deterrence to have the U.S. be in a dominant political position. If we have the bomb and they do not, that's an advantage. Usual argument to oppose it is window dressing.

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