The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Europe and Iran’s nuclear program

January 14, 2006

A great many right-wing blogs advance a strange interpretation of the latest developments in Iran’s apparent quest for nuclear weapons: the current failures of European-Iranian negotiations provide more evidence that Europeans are soft, ineffectual, and otherwise feminized.

What are the problems with the argument?

1. It ignores the obvious comparison between Iran and North Korea. The Europeans haven’t convinced Iran to drop its nuclear program, but the United States, for its part, hasn’t exactly had much success with the North Koreans either.

2. The failure of the talks is also a failure of US policy. The US has no effective “Iran policy” and few significant diplomatic channels with Iran, so it decided to back the European-Iranian negotiations.

3. It really isn’t very clear whether, or how, a more militarized approach to Iranian proliferation would work. It is difficult to believe the Iranians haven’t taken countermeasures against air strikes and the costs of military action for American Iraq policy might very well be enormous. We now recognize that the Israeli bombing of the Osirik reactor – the most obvious analogy for preemptive action against Iraq – was a long-term counter-proliferation failure.

I recommend the following exercise. Imagine that you are leader of the Iran. Would you want nuclear weapons? If so, why? What would it take to convince you to give up their pursuit? Now add domestic political considerations into the mix.

Filed as: and

website | + posts

Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.