John Wohlstetter, author of the new book, Sleepwalking with the Bomb (just published by Discovery Institute Press), stated today that Israel may well attack Iran before the U.S. elections this November. You can get a good argument about the odds (John didn't give any), but if there is even a one in ten chance, don't you think that the subject should rank higher in campaign issues this year?
Speaking to an audience at the Discovery Institute in Seattle (covered by C-Span) Wohlstetter described the West's missed opportunities to make sanctions work against Iran. Slowly increasing sanctions, as the Obama Administration has done, fails, he said, because the target has time to adjust. Had the present sanctions taken force all at once a couple of years ago, and had the Administration supported the "Green" movement of the population in Iran, rather than ignoring it, we might have a cheerier prospect before us now.
One reason that people are not discussing a possible attack on Iran's nuclear bomb sites is that the subject of nuclear proliferation has all but disappeared from academic studies and media coverage. John's book therefore fills a yawning hole. Former CIA Director James Wolsey says of it, " For many years Sleepwalking With the Bomb will be the standard against which all other work on nuclear issues will be measured."
The book comes none too soon. Since the 1980s, when Reagan and Gorbachev made arms agreement progress, and especially since the fall of the USSR, people at all levels in America and Europe have become complacent about the danger of nuclear attack. Meanwhile, universities and think tanks that used to support study centers on nuclear issues have withered and blown away. We just don't have many nuclear experts around anymore and policy makers even have forgotten, it seems, the language of nuclear deterrence.
Something like this complacency afflicted the West on the general topic of terrorism before 9/11. The danger was known to exist, but people didn't want to stir it up by learning about it. No one wants to think about the threat of nuclear terrorism now, let alone nuclear war. That probably includes candidates. But the way to banish unpleasant realities is to deal with them.
John Wohlstetter, of course, is a senior fellow at Discovery and the author of The Long War Ahead on terrorism. He again has made a tough subject comprehensible to any intelligent reader. Now we need intelligent readers who are willing to be alerted.