Thursday, February 1, 2007
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Oops, je l'ai fait encore
Jacques Chirac has gotten himself into a bit of foreign policy hot water, according to the New York Times' Elaine Sciolino and Katrine Bennhold:
President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.Two thoughts. First, what exactly is "a neurological episode"? Is this like "a minor circulatory problem of the head"?
Second, the implication in the Times report is that Chirac made more sense in the second interview than the first. To me that's really disturbing, because in the second interview Chirac actually makes less sense to me.
Chirac is essentially correct in stating that Iran would not nuke Israel because it would invite immediate retaliation, and Tehran would be leveled. Assuming that the political status quo remains in Iran and Ahmadinejad doesn't have his finger on the button, this is true.
However, for this to be true, the threat of retaliation has to be pretty clear. And this is what Chirac appears to amend in his second interview. Consider this part:
He retracted, for example, his comment that Tehran would be destroyed if Iran launched a nuclear weapon. “I retract it, of course, when I said, ‘One is going to raze Tehran,’ ” he said.In the actual text of the interview, Chirac seems more conscious of how deterrence works. However, this is the one thing you do not want to water down.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has an interesting theory for why Chirac seemed more lucid in the second interviewposted by Dan on 02.01.07 at 09:15 AM
You are probably going to raise your eyes at this but as I was perusing your blog I read the All About me section.
Your mom is awesome. I love her input about your middle name.
Yeah, I know this has nothing whatsoever to do with your post but I wanted to let you know that. So there. :)posted by: Monica on 02.01.07 at 09:15 AM [permalink]
A "neurological episode" is what the French call a minor stroke when it's the King, um, I mean "le Président de la République" who suffers it.
I agree, by the way, with your assessment. His first remarks are way more convincing. They're just not very diplomatic, which is a faux pas in any language.posted by: Headline Junky on 02.01.07 at 09:15 AM [permalink]
I'm a little more curious about:
We have the means, several countries have the means to destroy a bomb, once they see a bomb-carrying rocket launch. So it is hard to see what advantage Iran could find for dropping a bomb. The bomb would naturally be destroyed as soon as the rocket was launched. It is an important aspect of the issue.
I favor the goals of missile defense research more than many, but as far as I know the technology to reliably destroy a nuclear missile in flight doesn't yet exist. If Chirac were right that it's possible to ensure that an Iranian nuke, once launched, couldn't reach its target, then it may well some sense to talk about retaliation short of nuclear as well. But I don't think he is right about that.
Is it just me, or does it seem like the world is blessed with a set of truly unfortunate leaders these days?posted by: Appalled Moderate on 02.01.07 at 09:15 AM [permalink]
Well if Tehran was going to be razed, who will pull the trigger.posted by: Kevin on 02.01.07 at 09:15 AM [permalink]
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