I have just been listening to last night's Democratic debate, much of which dealt with Iran. All the candidates insisted that they wanted to resolve the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons through diplomacy, and most of them criticized Hillary Clinton--rightly, in my opinion--for supporting the resolution that declared the Republican Guard a terrorist organization. But Tim Russert, moderating, seemed to accept the idea that we had to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and he asked all the candidates to pledge that Iran would not get a nuclear weapon while they were President. Most of them did the best that they could to make such a pledge, without promising to go to war. Meanwhile, as a friend of mine pointed out a few weeks ago, Clinton took almost exactly the position on Iraq that Nixon took on Vietnam in 1968--she wants to end the war, but only responsibly.
It occurred to me, first of all, that the whole controversy about Iran reflects how insane the United States has gone since the end of the Cold War. While many of us found Cold War rhetoric frightening at various points, I do not recall any President or candidate threatening preventive war to stop a Communist state from getting nuclear weapons--not even Barry Goldwater in 1964 (when China did explode a nuclear weapon late in the campaign.) We owe some thanks to our parents' generation, apparently, for recognizing that preventive war was not a way of stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons--even though that option was discussed in Washington both in 1949-51 and in 1964. The Boom generation, of course, wants absolutely to have its way, and has apparently concluded that we have the right to attack any nation we find threatening--even if some of our politicians would prefer not to do so.
In the midst of all this, however, I was flabbergasted to hear Dennis Kucinich say exactly what I have been saying here repeatedly for three years--that the only way to argue that certain states should not have nuclear weapons is to commit to fulfilling the provisions of the existing Non-Proliferation Treaty (to which he explicitly referred) and commit to a world in which no one will have nuclear weapons. Once again we must credit our parents, who recognized that when they negotiated that treaty in the 1960s and wrote the provision in. But Kucinich, is, of course, a fringe candidate. I have checked the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times, and none of them reported that statement. Yet it is absolutely true.