George Will has a refreshingly sensible column about the recent and tentative agreement with Iran over nuclear power and weapons, taking to task those neo-conservative critics who are right in pointing out the weaknesses of the agreement but entirely wrong about there being a better alternative.
Critics of the agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program are right about most things but wrong about the most important things. They understand the agreement’s manifest and manifold defects and its probable futility. Crucial components of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remain. U.S. concessions intended to cultivate the Iranian regime’s “moderates” are another version of the fatal conceit that U.S. policy can manipulate other societies. As is the hope that easing economic sanctions would create an Iranian constituency demanding nuclear retreat in exchange for yet more economic relief. Critics are, however, wrong in thinking that any agreement could control Iran’s nuclear aspirations. And what critics consider the agreement’s three worst consequences are actually benefits.
The six-month agreement, with ongoing negotiations, makes it impossible for the United States to attack its negotiating partner. Hence the agreement constrains Israel, which lacks the military capacity to be certain of a success commensurate with the risks of attacking Iran. Therefore there is no alternative to a policy of containment of a nuclear Iran…Some advocates of war seem gripped by Thirties Envy, a longing for the clarity of the 1930s, when appeasement failed to slake the dictators’ thirst for territorial expansion. But the incantation “Appeasement!” is not an argument. And the word “appeasement” does not usefully describe a sober decision that war is an imprudent and even ultimately ineffective response to the failure of diplomatic and economic pressures to alter a regime’s choices about policies within its borders.
I would go even further, with the full recognition that this is a bit of armchair psychology. I think they also suffer from penis envy. I’m surely not the first to point out that the love of war is often a cover for the love of asserting dominance, and surely the fact that our military culture is absolutely saturated with blustering machismo is no coincidence. George Carlin’s Prick Waving Theory of War was as insightful as it was funny in this regard.
The Bill Kristols and John Boltons of the world simply cannot conceive of a world in which they are not constantly thrusting their Tomahawk missiles into an unwilling country (and the browner the inhabitants of that country are the more easily the decision to bomb the hell out of them is casually accepted by those who always fall for the latest marketing campaign for our imperial ambitions).