September 27, 2006

There is no doubt that a nuclear Iran would be a danger to the United States and its allies. But would the costs of going to war outweigh the costs of tolerating a nuclear Iran?  And is diplomacy without the threat of military force ineffective?

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    Robert Rosenkranz:

    Good evening, everyone, and welcome. I’m Robert Rosenkranz,
    chairman of Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate Forum, which is an
    initiative of the Rosenkranz Foundation. It’s a very special
    pleasure for me to welcome you today to our inaugural debate of
    our inaugural season. With this series of live debates, and with
    our national radio audience, we’re pursuing a lofty and ambitious
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    [LAUGHTER]

    Whether or not you change your mind, I hope you’ll come away
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    experience to this project. Thank you, Dana. [APPLAUSE] I’d
    like to close by quoting two political leaders, one American, one
    British. Al Gore, at the Clinton Global Initiative last week,
    speaking on the subject of global warming as a crisis, said, “The
    debate is over.” And now, Margaret Thatcher. “I love argument.
    I love debate. I don’t expect anyone to just sit there and agree
    with me. that’s not their job.” Well, at the risk of showing my
    own partisanship, I’d like to declare a victory for Britain.

    [LAUGHTER]

    Of course Oxford-style debate is a long and vigorous tradition in
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    microphone over to John, who will share his thoughts and
    introduce our moderator for the evening.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Josh Gordon:

    Thank you very much, Robert. We’re absolutely delighted that
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    Rosenkranz Foundation. It’s great for the baby that Jeremy
    O’Grady and I have been nurturing for 25 or more years and that
    we created four years ago has now come over the pond.
    ]Intelligence Squared in London has really taken off. Everyone
    there loves debate and even though it’s very much part of our
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    there isn’t any regular series of debates other than Intelligence
    Squared. I hope this evening you’ll enjoy the two particular
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    is probably the first time that you’ll have the opportunity to hear
    oratory. I mean there is very seldom—few outlets where you can
    hear somebody speaking for eight or nine minutes in trying to
    persuade you to vote for or against a particular motion. And I
    think the other great sort of pleasure of debate, which again I’m
    sure you’ll experience this evening—particularly if you’re
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    proposer arguing the motion, agreeing with them, and then eight
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    [LAUGHTER] The Germans who’ve interviewed us twice and
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    They asked us, how many people have gotten married during the
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    how you are going to respond to this very quintessential British
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    Robert Siegel. Robert is a senior host of National Public Radio’s
    award-winning evening news magazine, “All Things Considered.”
    He got started in radio news when he was a college freshman in
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    served for four years as director of NPR’s news and information
    department. I’m now very pleased to turn the evening over to
    Robert for the debate, “We must tolerate a nuclear Iran.” Thank
    you.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you, John Gordon, for your introduction, and I’d like to
    welcome all of you to the inaugural Intelligence Squared U.S.
    debate. I’d like to begin with some housekeeping. First the
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    I’d like to explain the proceedings, what’s going to happen this
    evening. First, the proposer of the motion will start by proposing
    that side of the argument, and the opposition will follow. We will
    alternate from the pro to the con side, each presentation being
    eight minutes. I’ll be the time cop, and I’ll give them two-minute
    and one-minute warnings, and if they keep on talking, I’ll tell you
    to turn your cell phones back on and interrupt them.

    [LAUGHTER]

    After all six speakers have spoken and finished,
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    welcome your questions, and also your brief statements, and they
    will respond to you. When that question-and-answer session is
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    more than two minutes. Now, during the closing statements we
    then come to this perforated ballot-ticket that you were given on
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    You were asked as you entered whether you were for or against
    the motion or undecided, and once again we will ask you, after
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    now, we’ll take care of that when the time comes and the usher
    will provide you with a ballot. Then after we’ve heard all the
    closing statements, we shall announce the results of both the poll
    that we took on the way in, and also the voting after you’ve heard
    these, what I hope will be very interesting and persuasive
    presentations. I’d like to introduce our panel right now. First,
    those who support and propose the notion that we must tolerate
    a nuclear Iran. George Perkovich is a U.S. foreign policy expert
    and vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for
    International Peace. Welcome. Karim Sadjadpour, formally
    based in Tehran, is a writer and Iran analyst for the International
    Crisis Group. Sanam Vakil is assistant professor of Middle East
    Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced
    International Studies. That’s the side that proposes the motion
    we’re going to hear debated.

    To my left this evening, are Patrick Clawson, who is an author
    and also deputy director at the Washington Institute for Near
    East Policy, Reuel Marc Gerecht, an expert in Middle East affairs,
    formerly with the CIA, currently a resident fellow at the American
    Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and best-selling
    author and co-founder/editor of the Washington-based political
    magazine The Weekly Standard, William Kristol. Bill Kristol
    rounds out our panel. So let us start the debate, proposing the
    motion, “We must tolerate a nuclear Iran,” George Perkovich,
    please take the podium.

    George Perkovich:

    [Thank you. I’m intrigued by the “Dating Game” idea so maybe
    we can return to that in the question part. It’s an evening event,
    everybody’s tired from work. To judge the motion, “We must
    tolerate a nuclear Iran,” you must evaluate the alternatives to it.
    Ideally, the United States and other leading actors can prevent
    Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Indeed, all six of us here
    agree emphatically that the U.S. and the international community
    must do everything possible, and more than has been done
    already, to try to prevent this. We all agree with that, we all work
    on that much of our time. We can talk about some of the steps
    that that might entail, including the United States being willing to
    engage in direct negotiations with Iran if Iran is willing to do so,
    which is a big question. We should talk about security
    guarantees to Iran, which Patrick has written about in the form
    of, “We will not attack you if you don’t attack us.” We should
    right now be mustering Iran’s neighbors— perhaps secretly, some
    of it openly—into a much tighter, cohesive network to try to
    cooperate on intelligence, air monitoring, perhaps moving ballistic
    missile defenses into the region, to show Iran that its freedom of
    maneuver will be diminished if it moves forward with nuclear
    weapons.

    We have to be much more direct with President Putin in Russia.
    Russia is the biggest impediment of getting the Security Council
    to take strong actions, and we can talk about that later. The
    general point is, prevention, all of us agree, is the best option.
    Yet prevention is not the proposition we’ve been asked to debate
    here tonight. The question we are debating, is whether we can
    tolerate a nuclear Iran. That question assumes that diplomacy
    has failed, and we’re on to other options. Then we have to ask,
    well, what are the alternatives to tolerating an Iran that possesses
    nuclear weapons. Well, one might say, well, we kill ourselves. If
    we can’t tolerate, we kill ourselves. That’s not a good option.
    The second option will be, well, we’ll kill all of them. Make the
    problem go away. Also not a good option, there are 74 million of
    them, three times the population of Iraq. Even if somehow it were
    morally justifiable, it wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem. The
    most feasible strategy that is the alternative, the most feasible
    strategy for not tolerating a nuclear Iran, is an attack—a
    combination of attack on its known nuclear facilities, on its air
    force and navy to try to prevent its capacity to retaliate
    immediately, and on the Revolutionary Guard, to try to hasten
    regime change. This ought to be examined, and there are a long
    list of questions that arise from this. But the key thing in terms
    of the motion before us is, that you should not assume that this
    is a question of will power. In other words, if one says, “I will not
    tolerate a nuclear Iran,” that somehow that solves the problem,
    that the will power to act—meaning to conduct a war—somehow
    achieves the objective of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capability.
    There’s no reason actually to conclude that it would—that even if
    you had the will, you could eliminate that capability. But you
    have to factor that in, as well as the consequences of a potential
    action. Now if I thought that a military attack of this type I
    described would actually eliminate that nuclear capability, and do
    it for a sufficient time, I would be for it, if the consequences of our
    attack were not going to leave us worse off. But to conclude that
    the consequences won’t leave us worse off, you have to ask a
    bunch of questions. To his great credit, Reuel Gerecht, our
    colleague, has written an essay last April in the Weekly Standard,
    that’s a very detailed treatment of a military option, which he
    ultimately advocates. Reuel talks about a campaign, a military
    campaign, that he says would be “a series of actions and
    counteractions between the U.S. and Iran, that would probably transpire
    over many years, perhaps a decade or more.”

    Now there’s a long list of questions that arise when you
    contemplate a war with Iran lasting a decade or more. You’d have
    to know if we buy some time, maybe two or three years, in the
    first attack, what happens. Well, the most likely thing that
    happens is the inspectors have to go, that’s been our major
    source of intelligence. So now when you want to figure out what
    else to attack over these years, your capacity actually to pinpoint
    things has diminished. The probability of hitting false targets,
    wrong targets, killing innocent people, being subjected to media
    treatments then of the mistaken bombing, goes up, and with each
    mistaken bomb, U.S. credibility in the world, in the region, in
    Iran, is diminished. There are other questions. What are the
    odds then an air war will improve the prospects for democracy in
    Iran? What are the odds that another war will make Iran less
    threatening to the U.S. and Israel?

    What are the odds that another war led by the United States will
    increase America’s capacity to solve the other problems in the
    world—Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terror, international trade?
    You name the issues, will our credibility be enhanced if we
    conduct another war in the Middle East? Now Reuel wrote his
    essay before the war in Lebanon. I would argue that war has
    even further raised the bar, the difficulty, of thinking that a war
    against Iran will actually solve this problem. We believe that
    another war would leave the United States and the world worse
    off than we would be by pursuing an alternative strategy. If you
    agree, you should vote in favor of the resolution. We argue
    there’s plenty of evidence to conclude that if more energetic
    efforts to prevent Iran from getting nuclear—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes—

    George Perkovich:

    —fail, it will still be possible to deter and contain Iran from using
    nuclear weapons against anyone. Iran’s president is alarming, he
    is indeed alarming. But the leadership in Iran is collective, and it
    includes many old men. These old men did not get old by being
    suicidal. Iran, Persia, has thousands of years of grand history,
    and there’s no reason whatsoever to think that Iranian
    nationalists would sacrifice their nation and their civilization in a
    nuclear war of their making. There is other evidence of Iran’s
    deterability. Iran has not attacked the weaker United Arab
    Emirates with which it has a dispute over two resource-rich
    islands. Iran did not attack the Sunni extremist Taliban
    government in Afghanistan, even when that government killed,
    murdered, nine Iranian diplomats.

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute.

    George Perkovich:

    Iran has a Jewish population that is free to leave but chooses not
    to. There is no evidence that Iran is not deterable. Indeed, as
    Reuel has written, “The Islamic republic ceased to produce holy
    warriors by the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. The potential
    for chiliastic rapture has just dried up.” The bigger point is this.
    Voting for the motion does not mean doing nothing, or turning
    the other cheek to Iran. Voting for the motion means deciding
    that another war will not solve this problem, and that a robust,
    extremely tough strategy of deterrence and containment would be
    the most effective way to keep a nuclear Iran from threatening the
    United States and its friends. Thank you.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you, George Perkovich, for proposing the motion before us,
    “We must tolerate a nuclear Iran.” And now to the podium we
    call the first opponent of that motion, Patrick Clawson.

    Patrick Clawson:

    I thought George gave a very eloquent statement of why we
    should not go to war with Iran, and if that were the proposition
    that we were debating, I think his arguments were spot-on. That
    however is not the proposition we’re debating. The proposition
    we’re debating is that we should not tolerate a nuclear Iran.
    That’s quite a different matter. In fact, there are many things
    that we could do, even if Iran got a nuclear weapon, that would
    suggest to me that we would have non-military ways in order to
    persuade Iran to give up that weapon. Most of the countries of
    the world which developed—which had nuclear weapons have
    given them up, and not through war. So there are in fact many
    things that we can do, that would show we cannot tolerate a
    nuclear Iran, short of war. So I would rather spend my time
    discussing the proposition as stated to you, namely that we
    cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran, rather than discussing whether or
    not to go to war with Iran.
    I would like to suggest that when it comes to a nuclear Iran, the
    proposition is very well-stated, because it leaves vague exactly
    what do we mean. Are we talking about the nuclear family in
    Iran? Or what are we talking about here? [LAUGHTER] I for
    one have no objections if Iranians care to choose to live in nuclear
    families. But what we are likely to have is a very gray case. We
    in fact do not have a smoking gun to show that Iran has a
    nuclear weapons program. It’s unlikely that we’re going to wake
    up some morning to find that Iran has exploded a nuclear
    weapon. What we have to deal with instead, is what Iran openly
    declares that it is doing—namely building this complicated thing
    called a nuclear fuel cycle, to make the materials for having a
    nuclear weapon.

    The Iranians themselves have described well why they’re doing
    this. In a remarkable speech, their chief negotiator for their
    nuclear weapons program wrote that having a fuel-cycle
    capability almost means the country that possesses this
    capability is able to produce nuclear weapons, should that
    country have the political will to do so. Now that’s the judgment
    of the Iranian government. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head
    of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed Al
    Baradei—who you may recall was no friend of George Bush on
    the Iraq matter—says that if Iran does what Iran announces it’s
    intending to do, that Iran will be, quote, “a few months,” end
    quote, away from having a nuclear weapon. So our real question
    is, do we want to see Iran have that kind of a capability, on the
    edge of having a nuclear weapon but not quite there. We’re not
    going to have the dramatic moment where Iran explodes a nuclear
    weapon necessarily. If we need to act, we need to act much
    before then. We need to act when Iran is getting this capability to
    make the essential elements for a nuclear weapon. That is what
    we have to concentrate on stopping.
    Indeed, why do I think that that is something that not only we
    cannot tolerate, but we need not tolerate. Let me count some of
    the reasons. First is that what the Iranians are doing, is
    exploiting a loophole in the system that we have constructed to
    make sure that the world does not have a hundred countries with
    nuclear weapons. The Iranians have correctly identified a real
    weakness in our system of stopping the spread of nuclear
    weapons. Indeed, Muhammad Al Baradei has proposed a five
    year moratorium on the construction of all fuel-cycle facilities
    worldwide, and has said that any such facility should be under
    international control, because the technology is so dangerous.
    If Iran gets away with building this, it will not be the only
    country. We will not only have to tolerate a nuclear Iran, we will
    have to tolerate a nuclear Turkey, a nuclear Egypt, a nuclear
    Saudi Arabia. A nuclear Algeria. A nuclear Venezuela. A nuclear
    South Africa. A nuclear Brazil. When we start having 20 or 30
    countries with nuclear weapons, and we start having a multiple
    system of deterrence, it’s going to be very interesting if we have to
    go through the Cuban Missile Crisis another 20 or 30 or 40
    times. I’m not confident it’ll turn out so positively every time. I
    don’t think that deterrence is something that we can count on
    working every time, the way it did work with the Soviets, once the
    Soviets got so tired and Brezhnev took over, and couldn’t care
    less about revolution. But in any case, I say we cannot tolerate a
    nuclear Iran, because if we tolerate a nuclear Iran, we will be
    tolerating many, many more nuclear countries, and that is not
    something that will lead to peace in the world.
    Furthermore, we need not tolerate a nuclear Iran, because there
    is much that we can do to stop it without having to talk about
    going to war. The fact is that Iran has acknowledged to the
    International Atomic Energy Agency that it’s been carrying out
    these clandestine nuclear activities for 18 years. But they haven’t
    gotten very far. Now, a lot of that has broadcast our success, in
    fact having a system which does limit what Iran can do. We have
    had a lot of successes in our efforts in stopping Iran’s program.
    You may recall that we were very worried when the Soviet Union
    fell apart that its scientists and nuclear matter would show up
    around the world, causing proliferation. We started a big
    program called the Nunn-Lugar Program to prevent that. And in
    fact, none of it has shown up in Iraq. None of it.
    Indeed, the Iranians have had to, on the whole, do things
    themselves. The only thing that they were able to buy was a set
    of blueprints from A.Q. Khan of Pakistan. I don’t know about
    you, but I can’t assemble furniture from Ikea when I buy it with
    the blueprints. I certainly can’t program my VCR with the
    instructions that come with it. So buying a set of blueprints
    didn’t really get the Iranians necessarily that far ahead. Indeed,
    that’s why their program has taken 18 years, and is going very
    slowly. President Ahmadinejad of Iran claimed this last spring
    that they were going to have—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes—

    Patrick Clawson:

    —3,000 centrifuges up and operational by the end of the year. I
    don’t think he’s going to have 300. And we can, by reinforcing
    our system of controls on Iran’s access to advanced technology,
    by mobilizing the world community, slow down Iran’s program
    dramatically. To the point where Iran might be able to make one
    bomb, but I don’t think it’ll be able to make a lot of bombs, and it
    certainly won’t have a way to deliver that thing. And if this bomb
    ends up being some two-ton monstrosity that they can barely fit
    into a bread truck, then they won’t have easy ways of delivering
    this thing. So, there are always ways in which the control on
    technologies makes the real difference. That’s why we should
    continue our efforts to limit Iran’s access to these advanced
    technologies, rather than tolerating a nuclear Iran and saying,
    well, now you’re in the nuclear club. Okay, join the club, you can
    do what you want. No. We should, even if Iran’s program
    progresses dramatically, continue to press them, continue to
    work on them—

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute—

    Patrick Clawson:

    —and not tolerate it. Furthermore, as George laid out at the end
    of his presentation, there are excellent reasons to think that, in
    fact, the Iranian government is pretty cautious, in spite of this
    Ahmadinejad of the moment. On the whole, right now the
    Iranians think that they’re on top of the world and the strategic
    situation’s very good for them. But that too will change, and our
    job is to press them, press them so that the cautious element—
    which I entirely agree with George is very much there in the
    leadership—comes to the fore, and the Iranians decide that this
    thing too risky, it’s not good for Iran’s security, and we can get
    them to stop this program, or if the program’s advanced a long
    way, we can get them to reverse it. Most of the countries that
    have had nuclear weapons have given them up. So we do not
    have to tolerate a nuclear Iran, we can get them to stop, or if
    necessary to reverse.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you, Patrick Clawson. We now turn to the proponents
    once again, and to Sanam Vakil.

    Sanam Vakil:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here tonight to tell you why we
    must tolerate a nuclear Iran. It’s time for the United States to
    rewrite the balance of power. Iran has been using its nuclear
    program to bolster its legitimacy, domestically in Iran, regionally
    in the Middle East, and internationally, And this tactic is coming
    at the expense of American credibility and influence in these
    arenas. So by engaging Iran over its nuclear program,
    Washington can take this tool of coercion out of Tehran’s hands,
    and once again have a larger degree of influence as well as
    credibility within Iran, within the region of the Middle East, and
    internationally. Let me tell you how Tehran is using its nuclear
    program to its advantage. Let me start with the domestic.
    By engaging, the U.S. would prevent the Iranian regime from
    using the nuclear program as a pretext for regime preservation.

    Through its domestic policies, Tehran has advanced its power
    under the guise of this program. The administration of Mahmoud
    Ahmadinejad is tactically manipulating its nationalistic nuclear
    ambitions to foster support domestically. Important though, is if
    you ask the average Iranian, what is nuclear energy, or what is
    uranium enrichment, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. This is
    what the government has homed in on. They’ve been able to
    exploit the double standards that exist within the international
    community, vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear program, compared to India’s,
    Pakistan’s, North Korea’s, and even Israel’s. This is what the
    government draws strength. An edict was issued roughly six
    months ago through the National Security Council preventing
    negative media from being reported on nuclear issues
    domestically, and the government uses censorship of media to
    control popular access to any nuclear-related information, among
    other information as well.

    This way, the government has been successful in perpetuating
    nuclear nationalism, and controlling the effect of that
    nationalism. For Iran, the nuclear issue is linked to the nation’s
    place in the modern world, national pride, and resistance against
    the West. An effort to prevent Iran’s program from advancing is
    further associated to discrimination, and perpetuated by fears of
    sanctions and regime change. More interestingly, as I observed
    this summer during my visit to Tehran, Ahmadinejad has more
    support throughout Tehran today and in other cities on foreign
    policy issues than he did last year after he was surprisingly
    elected.

    This is due to his confrontational approach, compared to the
    policy of détente that was pursued under the Hatami
    administration. You might ask why. That’s because many
    Iranians feel quite happy and proud that he has taken on the
    nuclear portfolio and succeeded in garnering more concessions
    for Iran, compared to what was going on during the tenure of
    President Hatami. So these confrontational tactics are also
    domestic tactics pursued by the government, acts of deflection to
    perpetuate a constant state of fear domestically, with regards to
    sanctions and even a military strike, and these tactics are
    designed to strengthen the hand of the regime and the unclear
    program. This is why we should tolerate a nuclear Iran. We
    should think about the Iranians at home that have to suffer
    under the regime. The same time, the government is using the
    opportunity of the nuclear threat to launch a domestic crackdown
    on elites within the system. They’ve closed down reformist
    newspapers. They’re purging universities of secular academics.
    They’re detaining students. They’re purging bureaucrats from the
    system. All in an effort to silence opposition, and all under the
    paradigm and all under the guise of the nuclear program.
    The regime is ever more united in the face of opposition. Let’s
    also consider a counter-factual. If we do not tolerate Iran’s
    unclear program, we are playing into the hands of Ahmadinejad.
    He dreams of becoming a war president. Why was he elected? He
    was elected on an economic platform. He was elected to be a
    populistic President. But since he’s been in power for the past
    year, he has yet to meet the demands of the people, and he has
    been pursuing foreign policy issues, not economic ones. Any
    nuclear strike, military strike, or sanctions would give him just
    cause for continuing to neglect his electoral mandate.
    So let me offer you even one more final reason why we should
    tolerate a nuclear Iran on the domestic agenda. The government
    is further playing to these domestic nationalistic sentiments of
    the Iranian street, and playing up against the Iranian street that
    has historically been very pro-American. They’re using their
    imagery of the war, and they’re using fear of sanctions and regime
    change to change the sentiment in Iran against the United States,
    and this is a huge loss for Washington. Let’s turn to the region.
    Ahmadinejad has also exploited the nuclear issue to no end. This
    issue has gained a lot of support among the Arab and Muslim
    street. He’s spoken of the double standards that exist among
    U.S. policies in the Middle East. He’s taken on the plight of the
    Palestinians, challenging the order in the recent war this
    summer, and he’s earned praise in capitols from Cairo to Jakarta.
    There’s also a credible—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes—

    Sanam Vakil:

    —threat of proxy war. It’s a notable one, and the regime has
    cultivated relations with proxies to counterbalance the very large
    American presence in the region with two unfinished wars on
    Iran’s borders. So Tehran’s message is simple—it’s a regime not
    to be reckoned with [sic]. The U.S. is in a weakened position in
    Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and with this growing
    conflict within the religion of Islam. Tehran is exploiting this to
    its advantage, drawing on the Arab street for support at the
    expense of the United States. Internationally. The regime’s
    confrontational regional and domestic approach of the nuclear
    program has also divided and weakened the international
    community at Washington’s expense. Unable to unite the
    international community and drive a consensus on sanctions,
    only weakens Washington’s position further. Jacques Shirac
    recently defected, and China and Russia are unable to back
    Washington—

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute—

    Sanam Vakil:

    —on any sanctions in this nuclear jockeying that’s going back
    and forth. Let’s compare Ahmadinejad. He’s able to rally 118
    NAM nations to support Iran’s ambitions, and the United States
    can’t rally the P-5 and the Security Council? That’s depressing.
    So, Ahmadinejad says he supports dialogue, let’s take him up on
    this offer. I leave you with this. The U.S. is losing the Iranian
    street, it’s moving into dangerous territory in the Arab and
    Muslim world, and it’s losing support in the Security Council.
    Let’s take the lever away from Tehran. Let’s not allow them to
    exploit their nuclear program at our expense anymore. Thank
    you.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you, Sanam Vakil. Our next speaker, opposing the
    motion, is Reuel Marc Gerecht.

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    Bigotry against tall men. I just want to start off by thanking
    George for using my own words against me. [LAUGHTER] I sort
    of had the sensation of arguing with my wife and I inevitably lose
    those encounters. I will suggest that perhaps he maybe used
    some of my words a little selectively. I mean, I think Patrick
    handled the geo-strategic issues rather well, I’m not going to go
    back over those. I also am not going to go over a pointcounterpoint on the
    individual repercussions of a bombing run. I
    did that, as George said, at great length in a Weekly Standard
    piece and there’s no reason for me to torture any of you here who
    read it the first time through. But I will focus on a couple of
    issues which I think tend to get overlooked, particularly in
    American and Europe audiences. When I hear the other side
    talking, I hear them talking about Iran as if it’s a status quo
    country. I almost never hear them talk about God. I almost
    never hear them talk about the religious inspiration that still
    fuels the regime at the very top. What people have been
    anticipating inside of the Islamic republic for the longest period of
    time, is that it would go thermidor.

    They thought it with Rafsanjani, who by the way should really be
    considered the father of the Iranian nuclear weapon. They
    thought it with him, even though at the very same time he was
    unleashing the Intelligence Ministry, the Revolutionary Guard
    Corps and assassination teams and bombing teams that went
    around the world in the 1980s and ‘90s. They thought it about
    Rafsanjani when he was calling these ecumenical movements,
    bringing in Sunni militants into Tehran on a regular basis and
    having outreach programs. By the way, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al
    Qaeda’s number two, has been probably Tehran’s favorite poster
    boy for over 20 years. I will just add there’s something deeply
    suspicious about members of Al Qaeda moving through Iran
    before 9-11 and moving through Iran after 9-11.
    It’s also very unusual for individuals who are under house arrest
    in Tehran to be placing cell phone calls to operational units of Al
    Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. That is not the usual routine that people
    have when they’re under house arrest. I think we have to
    understand that absolutely, when you deal with the vast majority
    of Iranian people, certainly Iranian men—these are the ones we’re
    primarily talking about—that that chiliastic drive that you saw in
    the 1980s, they were really the mothership of much of the
    jihadism mentality that we see today transferred over to the
    Sunni world, it’s dead. It died. If nothing else it died with the
    end of Khomeini who was sort of the charismatic inspiration.
    Unfortunately for the hardcore and for the elite, it’s not dead. I
    would argue it is as alive today as it was before.
    That doesn’t mean, once again, that you will not find individuals
    in that league who cannot be, quote, quite pragmatic. I was quite
    struck by the commentary of the fellow on CBS, the very, very old
    fellow, who went to interview Ahmadinejad and he said he seemed
    like a very rational man. That is I think a very Western comment,
    because we have this sort of false juxtaposition that individuals of
    die-hard belief and faith cannot be rational. They absolutely are.
    I mean Khomeini was a very, very rational man, he had a certain
    love of Neoplatonism that people don’t talk about but he was a
    more or less rational man. The same is true of Ahmadinejad but
    Ahmadinejad is a die-hard believer. So by the way is Khomeini,
    so by the way I would argue is Rafsanjani. What we have to
    worry about, is in fact that the anti-Americanism at that level has
    not diminished. You have to think, do you want to do what is
    necessary to try to stop them from getting nuclear weaponry,
    because you’re not primarily talking about an exchange of
    nuclear weapons being a firing-off between the United States and
    Iran. The Iranians realize that will probably end up very badly for
    them.

    What are you interested in is, will this give them an umbrella for
    protection of terrorism. I think if you look at the Western track
    record dealing with the clerical regime, that you have to say we’ve
    done a very poor job of responding to them. In many ways we
    have been at war with the Islamic republic since its inception,
    except we have not responded. They have bombed, they have
    attacked, they have killed American soldiers, we did not respond.
    I suggest to you that what you’re going to see life they get nuclear
    weapons is a new inspiration, I think it’s already out there, and I
    would expect that Ahmadinejad is once again trying to do what
    Khomeini and Rafsanjani had tried in the 1980s and failed.
    That was to lead the radical Islamic world on a new antiAmerican jihad.
    I think you’re going to see them try to do it
    again, and the acquisition of nuclear weapon is a key to that
    element. It is their safeguard, it is their protection. Once they
    have that I would argue that in fact the odds of them being able
    to strike the United States through proxies or directly will go up
    astronomically. Should you take that risk? I would say no, that
    you have to say, do you want to give individuals who run what I
    would call sort of a more sophisticated version of bin Ladinism,
    do you want to let them have the nuke? I would say under no
    circumstances. Is it worthwhile to take the repercussion from
    that in Afghanistan, which I don’t think are that much, in Iraq,
    and I might add, the way Iraq is going it’s going to be so bad—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes—

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    —it’s going to be very difficult for the Iranians to try to make a
    difference. If you are willing to absorb the repercussion of that, I
    would say yes, absolutely, the nightmare scenarios that you
    would have when you have this hardcore elite, which I would
    argue will become more and more radical. Because in fact the
    vast majority of Iranians have sheared away from the visions and
    the dreams and the promises of the Islamic revolution. They are
    not going in the direction of their citizenry, would that they were.
    They’re going in the opposite direction. The people inside of that
    regime, particularly I would argue the most important people, the
    clergy, the dissident clergy that I would argue are still the hope
    for that regime in the future, have in fact lost ground if not been
    completely stuffed. I would agree with Sanam that public
    diplomacy is a very good idea. The United States should try to
    wage as best a public diplomacy as possible. But public
    diplomacy is not going to—

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute—

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    —the nuclear weapons issue. Would that we actually could
    improve our position inside Iran, and I would just add by the way,
    the United States has a far better position inside that country,
    and it has maintained a relatively, if not pretty seriously hostile
    position against the Islamic republic now for over 25 years, while
    the Europeans have constantly tried to use engagement, yet their
    position inside of Iran I think is far, far less. Hostility towards the
    clerical regime has not cost us inside that country, it has in fact
    gained us a following. So you have to decide, are you willing to
    take a really serious risk, and I would add just tactically, you
    have to say yes. Because diplomacy you know isn’t going to work
    unless you threaten the possibility, you have to be serious about
    it, of using military strikes. The only reason the Europeans—and
    they will tell you that if you talk to the Germans and the French
    and the British—

    Robert Siegel:

    Time is up, Reuel.

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    Time’s up?

    Robert Siegel:

    We’ll hear from the Europeans later I think. Thank you very
    much, Reuel Marc Gerecht. [APPLAUSE] Now our third and final
    speaker in support of the motion, and that is Karim Sadjadpour.

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    Okay. Thank you so much for coming, it’s really a privilege to be
    here and it’s a privilege to be personally speaking for Bill Kristol.
    It’s a big privilege and a big challenge. When I was in high school
    my father used to watch the Sunday morning talk shows. My
    favorite guest was always Bill Kristol because he was always so
    thoughtful and sensible and sensitive, I just assumed he was a
    liberal. I must admit I was a late bloomer intellectually.

    [LAUGHTER]

    I would just like to first start off by reiterating the point that
    George made, that I think all six of us here are after the same
    thing at the end of the day—an Iran which is democratic, which is
    free, which is prosperous, and which is not armed with a nuclear
    weapon. That would be the ideal option. So the question is not
    whether or not the Islamic republic is a cruel regime. It is, I can
    tell you as someone who has been detained in Tehran by the
    Revolutionary Guard, it is a cruel regime. The question is not,
    again, why or whether or not Iran should have a nuclear weapon
    we should tolerate. I think personally it would be disastrous if
    they were to acquire a nuclear weapon. But the question on our
    panel is, should we tolerate it, and that begs the question, should
    we go to war with Iran to prevent it. Which cost would be higher,
    to actually accept Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, or going to
    war with them to prevent it.
    I would suggest that the latter option would be far more
    dangerous, bombing Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear.
    I’m a bit surprised tonight that the other side of the table is
    seeming to—I’m a bit too junior to contradict them too much—but
    they’re running away from the argument somewhat because both
    Reuel and Bill are on the record saying that they would bomb
    Iran. So hopefully, we hear that from Bill in the next round.
    [LAUGHTER] I would just argue similar to what Sanam said,
    that if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was here tonight, he would be
    arguing on the other side of the table, meaning I think he very
    much wants to see a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran.
    I will just suggest why in three different contexts, why the
    Iranians, particularly the hard-liners in Tehran, would like to see
    a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. The first context is
    the regional context. What was very interesting for me following
    the right-wing Iranian media was these comments which
    Secretary Rice made after the war in Lebanon in July. What she
    called it was “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” When I was
    following the Iranian right-wing media, it was very interesting
    how much they agreed with Secretary Rice, they said indeed it is
    the birth pangs of a new Middle East. Indeed this is a proxy war
    between the U.S. and Iran for hegemony in the Middle East, for
    Arab and Muslim hearts and minds. In fact we’re very wellplaced to fight this war,
    and what’s very disconcerting right now
    is that these same newspapers in Tehran which are very fascist
    when it comes to domestic politics, are Jeffersonian democrats
    when it comes to regional politics because they say, actually,
    democratic elections are very much in our interest.
    Hamas came to power in Palestine, Hezbollah came to power in
    Lebanon through democratic elections, the Muslim Brotherhood
    had a very strong showing in Egypt. Hardcore religious came to

    power in Iraq via democratic elections. So in fact, we are winning
    this war for Arab and Muslim hearts and minds, and given the
    U.S.’s low standing in the region, it looks like history is now on
    our side. Opinion polls which are conducted show that among
    the Arab street, the three most popular leaders are Hassan
    Nasrallah of Hezbollah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and
    Khaled Meshaal of Hamas. So right now Iran feels in a very good
    position, and I think that bombing the country they would feel
    even better-placed to fight this war for Arab and Muslim hearts
    and minds.
    We should take into account that if we bomb Iran, oil prices are
    likely going to go up to $150 a barrel. Currently the regime is
    making about $200 million a day on oil revenue, so we double
    that, they’re going to make $400 million a day on oil revenue. I
    would argue that that will put them in a far better position to
    support Hamas and Hezbollah financially than if we don’t bomb
    the country. I think that just, if we’re serious about fighting this
    war, which is becoming very much this self-fulfilling prophecy of
    the clash of civilizations, we’re going to have to figure out a way to
    resolve our differences in the Middle East without using bombs.
    The second point is from a non-proliferation perspective, from a
    nuclear perspective. What would happen if we actually bomb
    Iran to try to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
    Let’s play out the scenario, in fact I played out the scenario with a
    Navy captain.
    Say we bomb these sites. First of all we don’t know where many
    of them are, some of them are underground, some of them we
    don’t have intelligence on, so we can’t be sure that we bombed
    the right sites. Second of all some of them are near population
    centers, we would be killing Iranian civilians. Quite frankly, you
    know, if you talk to nuclear physicists they say, well, Iran
    actually has quite a bit of know-how right now. It’s like baking a
    cake. They have the ingredients, they have the recipe, and they
    have the cooks, they have the scientists. Unless you’re going to
    kill the scientists, you’re going to kill the cooks, I mean, it’s going
    to be very difficult to set back this program a long way. At most,
    in talking to nuclear physicists, it will take Iran two to three years
    to recalibrate. At that point, if we bomb them, international
    public opinion may well side with them, and the Iranians may say
    in fact we now are after a nuclear weapon because we now have
    been shown that we need it to protect our sovereignty.
    At that point, when you bomb these sites and you don’t know
    where Iran is recalibrating these facilities, maybe underground, if
    we really then want to avert the prospect we’ll have to send in
    group troops. At this point, with our troops spread thin in Iraq
    and Afghanistan, that doesn’t look like a welcome prospect. Now
    from the domestic perspective, this is the one that for me I feel
    most strongly about. When I first started this job, I didn’t get
    involved in this work because I was passionate about centrifuges
    and cascades and things like that, this is what George was
    saying—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes—

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    —but about the prospect of the future for the Iranian people.
    There’s this widespread notion that all Iranians are in favor of a
    nuclear program, which I would like to debunk. I think that, on
    one hand Iran is a nationalist country, and many people feel
    strongly that we’re a great nation, why this double standard.
    India and Pakistan can have this project, why can’t we. But at
    the same time this is a country that we forget experienced an
    eight-year war with Iraq. Not really one family was left unscathed
    by this war, there were half a million casualties. No one
    romanticizes the conflict or the prospect of further militarization.
    Quite frankly this is a very technical project, the idea of enriching
    uranium as opposed to importing enriched uranium from abroad,
    so the idea that your average Iranian in Shiraz or Tehran wakes
    up in the morning and says, you know, if only we could enrich
    uranium today our lives would be so much better half, has also
    been very much exaggerated.

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute—

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    But I would argue that you present to the Iranian people two
    options. You present this publicly to the regime. A, pursue this
    nuclear program unequivocally, come what may, for the
    sanctions, isolation, potential militarization. Or B, you take
    certain nuclear compromises and you reenter the international
    community. You’re going to have the people put a lot of pressure
    on the regime to change their behavior, and so far this has not
    been a policy option which has been issued by the U.S. Thank
    you very much.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you. [APPLAUSE] That’s Karim Sadjadpour, and now
    speaking against the motion, Bill Kristol.

    William Kristol:

    Thank you, Robert. Let me begin by thanking Bob Rosenkranz
    for bringing Intelligence Squared to New York and to the United
    States. I don’t know if Intelligence Squared has a slogan or motto
    in London, but over here you might want to think about, “Fair
    and balanced.” [LAUGHTER] “We debate, you decide.” You
    might almost call this a no-spin zone here, you know. With
    Robert Siegel, it’s Bill O’Reilly… [LAUGHTER] I shouldn’t have
    said that, this will ruin his career on NPR, and I’ll never be invited
    back to “All Things Considered.”
    I personally came in undecided, um, as many of you did, and
    even leaning slightly to the other side, but I’ve been convinced by
    Reuel and [LAUGHTER] Patrick’s brilliant arguments. Bob said
    he wanted intellectually respectable positions on both sides, and I
    have a high opinion of George and Sanam and Karim. But I’ve
    got to say that, unfortunately, they’re intelligent people but the
    arguments, while respectable, are not convincing. I was put off
    by Karim’s false praise [LAUGHTER] of me for a second, and I
    salute Sanam for her genuine concern obviously for the Iranian
    people who I think we all agree deserve a much better regime
    than they have, and I think we all agree, we haven’t talked about
    this, deserve much more aggressive efforts on the part of the
    United States and other democracies and Europe could do much
    more here, to help them liberate themselves from this regime.
    George is one of the more reasonable Democrats in Washington.
    I’ve known him for a while and he worked for Senator Biden and I
    know that to be a fact, but the tip-off for all of you was when he
    said that he didn’t believe we should kill ourselves. [LAUGHTER]

    George Perkovich:

    I thought that was the safe position.

    William Kristol:

    That was a courageous break from the mainstream of the
    Democratic Party… [LAUGHTER] I want to pay tribute to George,
    I’m doing my best to ruin all these people’s careers—

    George Perkovich:

    That’s the conservative position against euthanasia—

    William Kristol:

    I’m doing my best to ruin all of their careers. Look, we should not
    tolerate a nuclear Iran. Three quick reasons, and a couple of
    them have been touched on but maybe not developed. George
    says, and I think everyone probably agrees that we have to be
    tougher in our diplomacy, think more seriously about sanctions,
    and move perhaps outside the Security Council to get sanctions if
    we can, explore financial pressure to really squeeze Iran which I
    think the administration is beginning to do. Secretary of the
    Treasury Paulsen is working pretty seriously on this, and that
    would be done I think outside the Security Council through a sort
    of coalition of the willing on the Finance Ministry side. This is all
    good. None of this will work unless it’s backed up by the threat of
    force. Diplomacy will only work if there is a real threat of force,
    not just saying options are on the table, but a sense that we
    really won’t tolerate the outcome if Iran does not yield, if the
    moderates to the degree there are some in the Iranian regime,
    aren’t empowered by the pressure we’re putting on to prevent the
    headlong rush to nuclear weapons, and manage to change course
    domestically.
    Diplomacy can’t work without the threat of force, therefore, it
    would really be disastrous to diplomacy to say, we must tolerate a
    nuclear Iran. So whatever people might think one would have to
    do, and sometimes one has to do things in the real world seven or
    10 years from now or three years from now I suppose, we should
    not say we should tolerate a nuclear Iran and therefore you
    should all vote “No,” just to help diplomacy along. [LAUGHS]
    But I’m serious about that, and I’m serious that I believe
    shouldn’t at the end of—I will satisfy Karim and say that I would
    bomb Iran in a pinch. But it is important to not even signal
    weakness.
    The only reason the Europeans got serious in 2003 is that we
    went into Iraq, that we hadn’t yet encountered the difficulties
    we’ve encountered in the subsequent three years, and Iranians
    were worried and the Europeans were worried that Bush really
    would use force. That’s what made the Europeans much tougher
    than it looked as if they would have been prior to 2003. So for
    diplomacy to work, you need the credible threat of force, you
    therefore could not say that we would tolerate, or certainly not
    that we must tolerate a nuclear Iran. So for diplomacy to work
    you need the threat of force. The credible, real threat of force.
    Real plans, real attempt to lay the groundwork for it if it comes to
    that. Secondly, deterrence. That is the ultimate argument
    obviously on the other side, we can deter Iran, we deterred the
    Soviet Union, we deterred China. Pakistan and India have
    nuclear weapons and so far at least haven’t used them. That
    depends on the nature of the regime. Is this the Brezhnev
    regime, so to speak? Conservative, cautious old men, as George
    said? Or is this a much more radical regime, or at least a regime
    with radical elements in it, and do we have confidence that the
    radical elements won’t prevail internally? I don’t think so.
    This is a rising, confident, ambitious, aggressive regime, that
    thinks it’s carrying forth a historic mission, sort of a jihadist
    mission on behalf of Islam in general, particularly Shia Islam but
    perfectly willing to work with Sunni jihadists and also to compete
    with Sunni jihadists in radicalism which is itself very dangerous
    and of course that’s the story in some respects of the last 25
    years in the Middle East, with the Wahabes and the Iranians
    competing to radicalize Islam and unfortunately, succeeding.
    Letting Iran progress towards nuclear weapons just increases the
    strength of all the worst radicalizing forces, the jihadist forces,
    within Islam. It would be disastrous in my opinion not just for
    Iran to get nuclear weapons. It’s disastrous for them to succeed
    in progressing towards nuclear weapons over the next two, four,
    six, eight years. Every month that we huff and puff and the
    Europeans huff and puff and we put off another Security Council
    resolution and they progress and Ahmadinejad comes here and is
    treated well by the Council of Foreign Relations and—

    Robert Siegel:

    Two minutes.

    William Kristol:

    —and pays no price for anything he says or anything he does,
    every month and every year that that happens, the worst forces in
    the Middle East are strengthened, every government that’s
    teetering and isn’t sure which side to join basically, our side, the
    moderate side or the radical side, decides they have to cut a deal
    with the radical side. Individuals decide that looks like the way of
    the future, this is the classic, dangerous scenario. One hopes
    that the more moderate people, the more moderate forces in the
    Iranian regime, are going to prevail, and the only way to help
    them to prevail, is not to reward Ahmadinejad.
    That is what we are now doing by holding open the possibility
    that we would tolerate a nuclear Iran. It’s not just that it would
    be terrible if they got nuclear weapons. There, I think
    incidentally, it’s not just tolerating a nuclear Iran, it’s tolerating a
    nuclear Egypt and a nuclear Saudi Arabia, and then a whole
    bunch of nuclear countries which itself creates a very dangerous
    world. It is also the process of getting towards a nuclear Iran, is
    itself extremely dangerous—

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute.

    William Kristol:

    I don’t like to use models from the ‘30s or the analogy of the ‘30s
    or Hitler but in this respect it is like the ‘30s. Hitler’s success at
    each stage strengthened him internally, he didn’t start out in firm
    control of the regime of which he was chancellor. There were
    others who thought he was reckless. Every time he did
    something reckless and got away with it, it discredited his
    internal credits, it empowered fascists elsewhere in Europe and
    other regimes began moving in that direction. The democracies
    became demoralized, we ended up fighting a war against a much
    more powerful fascist alliance-axis than would have been the case
    if we had acted much earlier. We face that prospect
    unfortunately if we let a jihadist radical regime successfully
    pursue nuclear weapons in the Middle East today.

    [APPLAUSE]

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you, William Kristol. I’m now ready to announce the
    results of the pre-debate vote. Before the debate, you may recall
    you were asked whether you were for or against the motion or
    whether you don’t know. Here’s the pre-debate tally, for which
    we will not need the U.S. Supreme Court to sort out the answer.
    58 votes for the motion, that we must tolerate a nuclear Iran, 103
    votes against the motion, and 58 don’t knows. So that was the
    vote before the debate. We’re now ready for the question-andanswer portion of the
    program. If you would like to put a
    question to our panelists please raise your hand. Someone on
    either one of the aisles will find you with a microphone. I’ll call
    on you. As you’re asking the question, please stand up. If you’re
    a member of the working press and asking a question, please
    identify yourself. Otherwise it’s your call, and I’m going to begin
    in the front row, with this young lady.

    Woman:

    Hi. I’m not sure how much of it is a question, but I think it is.
    I’m on the “for” side, but I have to say the most compelling
    argument on the “con” is, not the prospect of Iran having a
    nuclear weapon but the prospect of Venezuela, Egypt. So I feel
    strongly that yes, we must set a precedent, so that we don’t have
    20, 30 nations with nuclear weapons. But then I wonder, how
    realistic is that? You look at the nations that are pursuing
    nuclear weapons, and these are nations that feel marginalized
    and threatened. It’s definitely I think a pursuit, both for
    protection and also for machismo or for popularity in their home.
    So is it really realistic to think that we are going to now have 10
    more nations with nuclear weapons in the 10, 20 years? The
    kind of comment along with that too is there’s an interesting
    vicious cycle that’s set in place when, by starting another war you
    are creating this vicious cycle of other regimes feeling threatened,
    and then spurring them on to produce nuclear weapons. Will we
    be giving Chavez more of an impetus to get into the nuclear
    weapon battle?

    Robert Siegel:

    Well, since the argument of the one-too-many nuclear Irans was
    made by the opponents, may I ask the supporters of the motion,
    George Perkovich, to answer it. Does tolerating a nuclear Iran
    imply tolerating many other new nuclear powers?

    George Perkovich:

    Well, I think we’ll come to this later. We’re now confused about
    what it means to tolerate or not to tolerate, because I happen to
    agree with everything Patrick said because he didn’t talk about
    going to war. I agree with Reuel and Bill, we should do everything
    we can to try to prevent it. So if what we mean by “tolerating” is
    that we really, really don’t like it, we’re going to do everything we
    can to stop it, but we would accept living with it if that was the
    alternative other than war, then I think we agree. If the
    alternative really is what Bill said, but not what Patrick said, that
    not tolerating it means that you are willing to go to war over it,
    then I would say to your question, there’s only been one case in
    history where there was a military effort to stop a country from
    trying to get nuclear weapons.
    That was the Israeli bombing of Iraq in 1981. You can argue
    what the effects of that were in various ways. Iraq went to war or
    was at war with Iran, and then, we had another war with them in
    ’91 and then we had another war with them in 2003, and their
    nuclear program continued when we didn’t think it was from ’81
    to ’91, but when we thought it was or some people thought it was,
    it turned out it wasn’t. We’re there now. Every other case of
    getting a country to stop involved politics, negotiations, giving
    them benefits, security guarantees, trade-offs, and deals. So we
    should be concerned about if Iran succeeds, what happens. But
    the way the rest of the world’s going to respond to this is going to
    be if you marshal diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, plus
    rewards. That’s the way to do it.

    Robert Siegel:

    Reuel Marc Gerecht, why don’t you reply to what George
    Perkovich is saying.

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    I would just like to say that I’m very uncomfortable being in the
    majority if that poll is correct. I think the other side should
    demand a recount. But I mean, just a quick comment on that. I
    don’t think it’s any coincidence that Gamal Mubarak announced
    that Egypt is going to have a civilian nuclear program. I think the
    timing of that, because of the Iranian nuclear program, was
    intentional. I would add that there’s a great deal of suspicion
    that the Saudis were in part financial backers of the Pakistani
    nuclear program. It is impossible I think to overestimate the
    fierce hatred and competition that exists and has existed between
    Saudi Arabia and the Islamic republic from 1979, Bill alluded to
    it.

    Much of the Islamic militancy that we see today, the fuel behind
    bin Ladinism, actually grew out of that competition in the 1980s.
    It would be surprising not to see the Saudis make some play for a
    nuke. I would also add, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see
    Turkey go in a nuclear direction. I think the Iraq war certainly
    showed to the Turks they cannot rely upon NATO as an
    institution of their defense, and I think the animosity that does
    exist in Turkey, even if it goes in a more Islamic direction which I
    think it will, will not diminish its profound suspicions of the
    Islamic republic. I think it would be a good guess that the Turks
    too would start working on a nuclear program.

    Robert Siegel:

    Next question, do we have someone on that side? Won’t you
    hand the microphone…and then we’ll come over to the other side
    of the room next. Could you stand up, please.

    Eugene Linden:

    Eugene Linden’s my name. Given the present situation in Iraq
    and Afghanistan, and the possibility of $150-a-barrel oil, do we
    really have a credible military threat?

    Robert Siegel:

    You mean does, is the threat from the United States credible?
    Patrick Clawson.

    Patrick Clawson:

    In a word, yes. First off, if the United States military were to take
    action Iran’s nuclear sites, this would be the Navy and the Air
    Force, which are not overly committed in Afghanistan and Iraq. It
    would be quite a doable thing to destroy the key nodes in Iran’s
    nuclear program. We don’t have to flatten the whole thing, don’t
    have to go in and Dresden and knock it all down. We just have to
    knock out the key nodes, and there are some key nodes without
    which that program cannot function, and it would take a number
    of years to rebuild. The question arises as to what Iran’s
    response would be if we did this. Well, we don’t know, it would
    depend upon the circumstances.
    But I would suggest that there was a time when in fact as far as
    the Iranians are concerned, we did bomb them, and we did take
    military action against them. That’s the end of the Iran-Iraq war,
    when we after all, in what we see as a tragic accident, shot down
    an Iranian airbus and killed 200-plus Iranian civilians. But they
    saw that very bluntly as the United States entering the war.
    Indeed, this being holy defense week, and the Iranian newspapers
    have been full of interviews with people about the war and how it
    happened, and Rafsanjani has asked, well why did you end the
    war? Because America ended the war against us. So the fact is
    that the last time we bombed Iran the result was within a week,
    that the Iranians accepted a cease-fire, it stopped a war which
    had killed 700,000 people. We paid no price in our relationships
    with the Iranians. That’s because the Iranian people were sick
    and tired of that war. So the task is up to us to paint this
    nuclear weapon as the device which the mullahs are using to
    consolidate their power and their control and to keep their grip on
    the country. Because if Iranians perceive that what we are doing
    is getting rid of the tool by which the mullahs are going to
    consolidate their control, that’s a very different situation than if
    Iranians think that this is a national bomb needed for national
    defense.

    Robert Siegel:

    I wanted to see if the other side agrees that there is a credible
    military threat, no ground troops, simply air strikes. Karim.

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    Obviously the United States is powerful enough to bomb Iran,
    that’s not the question. The question is the day after we bomb
    Iran, just like the question in Iraq should have been the day after
    we bomb Iraq. Obviously the United States could change
    probably every regime in the world apart from a few, China,
    Russia, India. But what are the repercussions for the day after?
    I would argue that at the moment even the Iranians believe that
    Iranian soft power is dominating U.S. hard power in Iraq. I would
    just put on the table that it’s fundamentally incompatible to think
    we’re going to stabilize Iraq, while simultaneously dropping
    bombs on Iran, not to mention other countries in the region. If
    we really want to try to tranquilize Lebanon, we will see a
    resurgent Hezbollah if we drop bombs on Iran. We want to
    tranquilize Palestine and strengthen the moderate Palestinians
    we’re going to strengthen Hamas, if we do that. I just want to
    make a further point that, Bill and Reuel have written that it’s
    unclear what would happen domestically within Iran if we
    dropped bombs. Maybe actually, we could over time strengthen
    the Iranian moderates. This always reminds me of a quote from
    John Limber, the great U.S. diplomat who was actually taken
    hostage in Iran for 444 days during the 1979 revolution.
    He was someone like many Iranians, my father included, who
    believed that when the Shah was deposed, the Shah’s government
    would be replaced by a secular democracy, and what we saw of
    course was that Khomeini came to, to power. He later wrote in
    his memoirs that, that what he learned was that when sudden
    upheavals happen, revolutions are not won by those who can
    write incisive op-ed pieces. [LAUGHTER] I think likewise in Iran
    we should have no illusions that if we bomb the country it’s going
    to be moderates who come to the helm either within Iran or
    within the region.

    Robert Siegel:

    Sanam Vakil?

    Sanam Vakil:

    Could I just add one more thing. If we also think about bombing
    Iran, we also have to think about not just nuclear nationalism
    that persists within the country, but just inherent nationalism,
    the patriotism of Iranians that they feel for their country, Iranians
    who don’t even love the regime but love Iran. The same way that
    you might love the United States of America or wherever you’re
    from. These are the Iranians that will come out in defense of
    their country. There are many Iranians I spoke with this
    summer, that said in the event of a military strike, they would
    come out in defense of their country and that’s something that we
    should consider. These are the people that fought an Iran-Iraq
    war, not for two years, not for four years, for eight long years.
    And that same way that you, your sons and your children would
    come out and defend the United States in the event of a military
    strike.

    Robert Siegel:

    Reuel Gerecht?

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    Yes, I don’t think anyone on this side of the table believes that
    bombing Iran will produce a moderate revolution inside the
    country, and in fact I think we’d say that’s really not the issue at
    all. The issue is do you believe that an Islamic republic armed
    with nuclear weapons is going to help the United States stabilize
    Iraq. I think that is not at all true, just the opposite. As long as
    the radical forces inside of Iran gain power and gain will, I think it
    is impossible to imagine a situation inside of Iraq that is going to
    be stable and in any way pro-American. I think you will see the
    forces of radicalism inside the Iraqi Shia community, continue to
    gain ground, they’re becoming a dominant force in that society,
    and Iran has no intention of deterring them. Certainly an Iran
    armed with nuclear weaponry, I don’t think would be a force of
    moderation inside Iraqi politics.

    Robert Siegel:

    Our next questioner? Sir.

    Man:

    I’m very sympathetic obviously to the “con” side. But I think one
    question has to be answered, which is: at this present time, what
    are you going to do about Western Europe. What are you going to
    do about the Europeans in terms of their support or non-support
    for this kind of event, and the reality that in another two years
    we’re going to have another election. Blair is on his way out,
    clearly the sense or spirit of accommodation is reflected I think in
    both the Labour Party and in the Conservative Party. So rather
    than just thinking in terms of next month, what is one’s answer
    to the question, how can we really threaten this unilaterally if we
    cannot bring any of the major powers in Europe along with us.

    Robert Siegel:

    Bill Kristol, what’s the answer to that question.

    William Kristol:

    The only reason the major powers in Europe are as engaged as
    they are diplomatically and at least talking, some of them,
    sometimes, about sanctions, on Iran is that in fact they were
    worried in 2003 that we might use force. As the threat of force
    has receded, as we’ve been so reassuring in the last year and
    embraced diplomacy and made clear to the Europeans that we
    put getting along with Europeans I think unfortunately perhaps
    at a higher level of priority than actually dealing with the Iranian
    nuclear program, they of course have cheerfully backed off.
    They’re not going to be ultimately extremely helpful in this. They
    will not privately shed any tears for the Iranian nuclear program
    and I don’t think we’ll have any great rupture in NATO, we’ll still
    have peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan. But no, they will
    probably not be part of the mission, and they will in some
    ritualistic way, probably denounce it. But if a nuclear Iran is
    really dangerous and I think it is, we can’t be stopped by the
    lowest common denominators of our allies. The unfortunate
    truth, I wish Western Europe were different, I wish all of Europe
    were somewhat different, I wish they spent more on the military, I
    wish they were more serious about dealing with coming threats
    from outside their region. They’re not, and we have to take the
    lead.

    Robert Siegel:

    Our next question, from the gentleman in the center.

    Van Greenfield:

    Van Greenfield. I voted against to start, I’m still there now. I
    think that when we recount again, if Karim and Sanam actually
    listen to their own words, then the people against will pick up two
    votes. I’m very serious about that. I think that Sanam said that
    Ahmadinejad dreams of becoming a war president. I fully agree
    with that, completely support that, I think that he believes it with
    his heart and soul. If he does feel that way, and has a nuclear
    weapon, we’re much worse off. Karim’s comment was that Iran
    getting a nuclear weapon would be disastrous. If it’s disastrous if
    they get it, and if he dreams of becoming a war president, I don’t
    see how you don’t vote that way. The question I’d like to ask is,
    as I sit here I was kind of astounded that we heard about virtually
    every country on the globe here, but the one country that we
    didn’t hear anything about, or any effect about, the country in a
    way most affected by the words that have been spoken, is Israel.
    Robert, you can choose who would answer it, but where do Israel
    and our obligation to Israel factor into this? I mean, they have to
    believe the words—

    [BRIEF AUDIO DROP-OUT]

    Robert Siegel:

    —in the presentations, but first I should say that Sanam and
    Karim, you’ve been called upon to debate your own remarks.
    [LAUGHTER] If there’s something you’d like to say first, feel free
    to.

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    I stand by the statement that it would be a disaster if Iran were
    acquire a nuclear weapon, but I would just say it would be far
    more disastrous to bomb them to try to prevent them from
    acquiring a nuclear weapon. These are the scales we’re forced to
    measure right now. I think Bill and Reuel and Patrick would
    agree that as long as this government is in power in Tehran, they
    will never feel comfortable that it’s somehow lost its nuclear
    ambitions. As long as this government is in power I think they’ll
    always feel that will happen. My point is that if we bomb Iran,
    we’re going to prolong the life of this regime I would argue two,
    three, maybe four decades. That what’s going to happen is that
    these radicals are going to come to the helm, they’re going to
    clamp down on any type of moderates, and they’re going to have
    the pretext to do so. So if you want to preserve the shelf life of
    this regime then we bomb it, that’s my argument.

    Robert Siegel:

    Sanam, does President Ahmadinejad need U.S. provocation to
    become a war president or war leader, or will he become one on
    his own?

    Sanam Vakil:

    Oh, no, he’s begging the U.S. to do it. He’s not there just yet. I
    think you misinterpreted. He’s looking for the U.S. to bomb Iran
    so he can avoid the economic mandate, his populistic mandate of
    why he was elected. He is not going to be able to fill the plates of
    74 million Iranians. And so foreign policy issues are a nice
    method of deflection for this president. Bombing Iran would
    propel this radical president to a higher post. The presidency of
    Iran is never, historically and constitutionally, a strong position,
    and we’re making him stronger every day by paying attention to
    him. If we bomb the country, he will be propelled even more. We
    will be radicalizing the country in his favor even more, and he will
    be neglecting his economic mandate, and the fastest way to get
    him out of power will be to force him to focus on the economic
    issues that he was elected into office on.

    Robert Siegel:

    Patrick Clawson, to what degree is this about the threat perceived
    by Israel from Iran.

    Patrick Clawson:

    Well, first you’ll notice that the other side continually does not
    debate the proposition. They debate a very different proposition.
    The proposition they debate is we should not bomb Iran. Now if
    that were the question we were debating, it would be an
    interesting debate. But it’s not what we’re here to do tonight.
    The question is, do we tolerate Iran’s nuclear program. That’s
    like saying, are we going to have the attitude towards an Iranian
    nuke that we have towards an Indian and a Pakistani nuke. We
    tolerate that. We say, naughty-naughty, you shouldn’t have done
    that, but we tolerate it. The question is, are we going to have that
    kind of an attitude, or are we, as Bill said, going to use instead
    the threat of force in order to back up diplomacy. Bill didn’t call
    for bombs away, neither did I, and neither did Reuel. What we
    called for is to have—

    William Kristol:

    I wouldn’t—let’s not go too far here. [LAUGHTER] We have a
    diversity of views on this side too, you know.

    Robert Siegel:

    Some of your teammates are on the record on this— [LAUGHTER]

    Patrick Clawson:

    There was a wonderful Commentary article by Ed Lutfoch in
    which he said it’s not time to bomb Iran, yet. It may come to be
    the time. But it’s not yet the time. Because what we’re talking
    about is how we can use force in order to—the threat of force in
    order to back up that diplomacy.

    Robert Siegel:

    But George Perkovich, you’re the pessimist about the diplomacy.
    You’re the one who’s saying it’s going to end up as an attack or
    not an attack.

    Patrick Clawson:

    That’s in part because of the Israel question. The answer is
    because Israel evaluates the threat to it as much worse than the
    threat to us. Then it’s quite possible that Israel will decide that
    it’s got to attack Iran well before we decide to attack Iran. In fact
    I would say that that’s likely that Israel will decide that it has to
    attack Iran, long before we think we have to attack Iran. That’s
    going to force the issue about what to do about this. Well, it’s
    precisely because we don’t want to be in that situation that we
    have got to accelerate our efforts on the diplomacy, and we can
    use Israel as that mad dog the threat of which we wave in front of
    the Europeans in order to get them to be more serious about this
    matter.

    Robert Siegel:

    George Perkovich.

    George Perkovich:

    We don’t disagree with that, that we have to accelerate and
    toughen diplomacy, that we don’t want Iran to have nukes, all of
    that we agree with. But what does it mean to not tolerate
    something?

    Patrick Clawson:

    Step up all those efforts.

    George Perkovich:

    I agree, and then if those don’t fail, what does it mean not to talk.
    Bill says it means go to war. Reuel has said it means go to war.
    Patrick hasn’t quite said that, so I’m not clear what the resolution
    is.

    Willaim Kristol:

    We have a healthy diversity of views on our side, we don’t insist
    on orthodoxy unlike some people, you know.

    Patrick Clawson:

    George, you’re saying, don’t tolerate it. You’re saying take action
    against it. Well, this proposition is not, go to war with Iran.
    That’s not the proposition we’re debating.

    William Kristol:

    May I make a point, a substantive point—

    George Perkovich:

    But what you’re saying is pretend not to tolerate it.

    Patrick Clawson:

    No, no, no, no. We shouldn’t tolerate it—

    George Perkovich:

    And then maybe at some point you tolerate it, and Bill says—

    Patrick Clawson:

    No, no, we shouldn’t—

    William Kristol:

    This is a semantic debate—

    Robert Siegel:

    To clarify, Patrick Clawson, you’re saying, worst case, if all the
    diplomatic measures you’re talking about don’t succeed, then
    you’ll tolerate it.

    Patrick Clawson:

    No. Worst case, if the only way we can make the diplomatic
    measures succeed, as Bill has said, is if we say at the end of the
    day if they don’t we’ll use force. Because the only way we can
    make diplomacy work is if we say at the end of the day, we are
    prepared to use force. That is what we should be doing. But the
    other side has not said about—George says, we should press
    them, press them. How the heck are you going to press them, if
    you say at the end of the day that what we’re prepared to do, is
    tolerate it. They’re not going to be interested in being friends.

    William Kristol:

    Can I say a word on this, this is just semantics. Look, the
    serious argument and most respectable argument I would say on
    the other side is Karim’s, that bombing would prolong the regime,
    would strengthen the regime. I take that argument very
    seriously. Ahmadinejad successfully pursuing and acquiring
    nuclear weapons in my view would strengthen the regime and
    strengthen the radical elements in the regime, much more surely
    than bombing would. Bombing is of course, you don’t know what
    effects. There’s empirical, historical evidence of the use of force
    destabilizing and discrediting a radical and aggressive regime,
    and there are historical examples of nationalist tempers flaring at
    least for a while, and the radicals being strengthened. I wouldn’t
    want to stipulate one or the other, but the one thing I think we
    can stipulate is that letting the most radical elements pursue
    nuclear weapons successfully would in fact strengthen the
    regime. So I think if you care about ending the regime which is
    what one has to care about, one has to be serious about saying
    we don’t tolerate this regime, this Iranian regime acquiring
    nuclear weapons, and then acting if necessary to prevent it.

    Robert Siegel:

    Karim Sadjadpour.

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    I’d argue that at the end of the day what’s going to change this
    regime is economic malaise. It’s not going to be bombing it, it’s
    not going to be a nuclear issue, but similar to the Soviet Union, at
    the end of the day you can’t eat a nuclear weapon. That’s what’s
    going to change this government, but again I think that if we do
    give it a pretext to clamp down on its domestic population it will
    very much take it, and we could see the prospect of change
    moved back many years. I would just argue as well that if we
    somehow were able to manage a nuclear-armed Soviet Union and
    a nuclear-armed China, which had far greater appetite than Iran
    did, it seems to me preposterous that we can’t tolerate a nucleararmed Iran in this context, in the context of deterrence.

    Robert Siegel:

    Well, thank you both, thank you all very much for commenting on
    our audience’s questions, and for clarifying the semantics of the
    motion, or muddying the semantics of the motion, I’m not sure
    which. [LAUGHTER] I’m intrigued by the idea that Bill Kristol
    came here undecided, and is newly won over to the “con” position.
    [LAUGHTER] Which would make him a neocon, finally.
    [LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE] It’s now time to vote. You may think
    you’ve voted before but you’re going to vote again. This is the
    ticket you were given on the way in, and all of you should have
    one. If you don’t, don’t worry, an usher will provide you with one
    now. There are three possible votes you may cast with this.
    Someone’s going to come by with a ballot box. If you’re for the
    resolution, take off the green “for,” it’s perforated, and drop that
    in the box. If you’re against, the red. If you’re still undecided, or
    if you are now undecided, drop the entire untorn ballot into the
    ballot box. As you do that, let’s make sure that the ballot boxes
    are making their way around the auditorium. In a moment, we
    shall hear brief concluding statements from our six panelists.
    What sort of progress are the ballot boxes making.

    [PAUSE, VOICES]

    Robert Siegel:

    Good. Good. We heard earlier from each of our panelists with an
    opening statement that began with those supporting the motion.
    We’re now going to hear brief concluding statements, of no more
    than two minutes each, beginning with those who are against.
    We start with Patrick Clawson. Patrick?

    Patrick Clawson:

    According to the New York Times when Kofi Annan was in Iran at
    the beginning of the month, he was quite astonished in his
    meeting with President Ahmadinejad when President
    Ahmadinejad explained that while Britain and the United States
    won the last world war, Iran was going to win the next one. Now,
    Kofi Annan didn’t even realize there was going to be a next world
    war. Much less, than Iran intended to emerge victorious from it.
    Do not underestimate the ambitions of a group which feels that
    they represent a quarter of the world, namely the world’s
    Muslims. They feel, that they’ve brought down one superpower,
    the Soviet Union, thanks to the, the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan,
    and that indeed, they can bring down another. They have very
    extensive ambitions. So this issue of whether to allow them to
    have nuclear weapons, is of extraordinary import to us. That is
    why we should be prepared to make credible threats of the use of
    force. Only through making credible threats of the use of force, is
    the kind of diplomacy that I described is going to be successful. If
    we begin that diplomatic process by saying at the end of the day,
    we are prepared to live with you, to tolerate this nuclear Iran, we
    will get nowhere with that diplomacy. We will get nowhere with
    forging an international consensus for strong actions of the kind
    that we have been able to use successfully to slow down Iran’s
    program for the last 18 years. Paradoxically only the credible
    threat of force is likely to prevent us from facing the danger of
    force. We have talked a lot about whether or not the United
    States will bomb Iran. Let us recognize, if Iran gets the bomb, it
    may bomb us.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you Patrick Clawson. George Perkovich.

    George Perkovich:

    Again I’m confused by the terms. Because we agree with almost
    everything especially that Patrick said. And with much that
    Reuel and Bill said about its, the nature of the Iranian
    government. What we want for the people of Iran. How bad it
    would be if Iran got nuclear weapons. And I don’t understand
    what it means not to tolerate. Because Patrick has used the verb
    say. We should say we won’t tolerate. He said we should have
    credible threat by using force but avoids the issue of would it be
    our policy actually go to war. Which to me means not tolerate.
    Bill’s clear at least, he’s saying yeah you know yeah we’ll go to
    war. Um that’s what the resolution means on their side. Not
    tolerate means physically stop. Physically try to act against. And
    then the question is does that guarantee success? There is no
    guarantee of success. We found the trouble in Iraq that was
    totally unanticipated. Reasonable people would expect things to
    go badly in Iran. So you can’t guarantee –

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute.

    George Perkovich:

    Success. We have an experience with China. When China was
    getting nuclear weapons in 1964, the US Government was
    prepared to launch nuclear war against it, to destroy China, to
    keep it from getting nuclear weapons. Then we thought no,
    instead of that we’ll give nuclear weapons to India in 1963. To
    balance China. We were afraid that Mao was such a
    revolutionary. He had killed more than twenty million of his own
    people. Something the Iranian regime hasn’t dreamed of. We
    thought it would be the end of civilization, that revolution would
    happen everywhere under this nuclear umbrella. Well in fact we
    decided that we couldn’t stop China. China got nuclear weapons.
    Here we are today. China is a huge economic threat to us today
    but it isn’t like you’re gonna go home tonight worrying that
    China’s gonna wake up and nuke the United States. Which it
    does have the capability to do. And which Iran for the foreseeable
    future would have no capability to do. Do I think we should
    publicly say we’ll tolerate it and welcome it? Absolutely not. But
    the exercise here is to try and clarify in your own mind, in your
    own plan –

    Robert Siegel:

    On that note George we will remain just that clarified and no
    more. Next concluding statement from Reuel Marc Gerecht.

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    Well I remember having a conversation with a good friend of
    mine, Jeffrey Goldberg who now writes for the New Yorker and
    used to write for the New York Times Magazine and Jeffrey had
    just gone over to madrassas in Pakistan and he was interviewing
    young students. And he kept asking them what do you believe
    in? And they kept saying to him, I believe in jihad, I believe in
    killing Americans. And he’d go to the next one – I believe in jihad,
    I believe in killing Americans. And he kept doing that you know
    day after day. And so he got some idea what they believed in.

    Now the Iranians don’t ask that way all right. They’re vastly more
    refined. That’s what makes them in many ways the most, and
    also contradictory, that’s what makes them I would argue the
    most interesting people in the Middle East. But do not make a
    mistake, this question, this debate is about what is at the center
    of their spirit. And they are dedicated, they are dedicated to the
    jihad against the United States. They are the mothership of
    much of the Islamic radicalism that we have seen and what is
    striking about the regime in Tehran is that it hasn’t become more
    moderate. It hasn’t in fact gone into a period of thermidor.

    Robert Siegel:

    One minute.

    Reul Marc Gerecht:

    That the moderates that everybody has hope in and I have hope
    in them too, have been stuffed. And that you do not see them
    coming forward. You do not see them gaining power where it
    matters. It is great and wonderful that the average Iranian on the
    street is in fact becoming much, much more moderate. It doesn’t
    matter. What matters is the people at the top and they have not
    and I sincerely suggest that you do not want people like that who
    believe they represent God on earth and that they represent the
    vanguard for all Muslims to have nuclear weapons.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you Reuel Marc Gerecht. Now to one of the most
    interesting people in the Middle East, now to Sanam Vakil.

    Sanam Vakil:

    I appreciate Reuel’s comments that the government of Iran is the
    vanguard of leading this one fourth of, and Patrick’s, one fourth
    of the world into jihad. But that’s not the government that I’m
    aware of and that I have been studying. Perhaps two different
    countries that we’ve been working on. And my interviews that I
    recently conducted in Tehran, many people in the variety of
    camps of the regime, Ahmadinejad’s ministry as well, told me
    repeatedly that it’s the constant threat from abroad, regime
    change threats from the US administration that have been
    coming from the past four years. Threats of sanctions,
    containment, isolation of this regime that are perpetuating these
    fears within the Iranian regime. So consider that when thinking
    the Iranian mentality. There are two ways of going forward. We
    have the military option. But we have an option that has never
    been actually pursued. Twenty seven years of isolation, there’s a
    wide gulf. Why not actually try direct engagement with these
    crazy folks? And let’s see actually what they might do. If we’re
    actually dealing with them one on one bring them close. Make
    your enemies our friends. We can monitor their nuclear program
    and often times there’s a lot of talk on the Iranian street that the
    hope of having America back in Iran will actually stimulate the
    Iranian people and recharge them and that might be the way to
    perhaps lead to a prosperous and maybe even hopeful Iran in the
    future.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you Sanam Vakil. And now I will hear from Bill Kristol.

    Bill Kristol:

    Really just three points. Proliferation, terror and jihad. The
    proliferation threat is unlike that of when the Soviet Union or
    China acquired nuclear weapons. It’s not just a generic
    Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, etc threat. Nigeria – that is a real
    issue too. But it is an absolute I mean it is very likely that
    Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria would decide they would
    want nuclear weapons if Iran had them. I don’t know if we could
    stop them, we could offer them security guarantees, if people feel
    comfortable living in a world where we’re providing security
    guarantees against a nuclear Iran for a Wahabi Saudi Arabia. I
    suppose we can try to manage that world. It would be safer I
    think to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear in the first place.
    We are talking about an extremely dangerous arms race in the
    most volatile region in the world. That was not the case when
    previous nations went nuclear. India, Pakistan a little bit more
    like that. And Pakistan was the worst one to have allowed to
    have gone nuclear but now this is Pakistan squared. So to speak.
    Cubed or something. Second, terror, providing a nuclear
    umbrella for terror is not something that’s been done. The Soviet
    Union played with terror and did some pretty bad, funded some
    pretty bad things but nothing like the intimate relation to terror
    that the Islamic Republic of Iran has had. And people need to
    think seriously about what a nuclear umbrella over terror acts
    with the possibility of giving nuclear weapons to terror groups but
    also protecting terror groups by a threat of nuclear retaliation.
    What that does in the Middle East, here Israel I think becomes a
    central question and how does that, how does Israel then react to
    terror groups, protected so to say by Iranian nuclear threat of
    retaliation. Finally, jihad, Patrick and Reuel have made this point
    right. This regime, getting nuclear weapons would be the biggest
    booster shot for jihad and I think both on the Shia and Sunni
    side is possible. That is the threat. The jihadists need to, those
    on the wavering need to be convinced that jihadists are losing –
    letting this regime get nuclear weapons would convince too many
    people unfortunately that they’re winning.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you Bill Kristol. And lastly Karim Sadjadpour.

    Karim Sadjadpour:

    I think one thing that’s been missing tonight is Iran’s ambitions.
    Iran’s impetus. We talked a lot about what the US is thinking,
    what Israel is thinking but we can’t look at Iran’s ambitions in a
    vacuum. And if I would make the argument that as a – it’s not
    that they want to pursue nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the
    map. We tried to get inside the head of Iranian leaders they say
    well this revolution of ours happened twenty seven years ago and
    to this day the US has never recognized us. And look historically
    at countries that have pursued nuclear weapons. Not been for
    offensive purposes. Has been very much driven by senses of
    insecurity and defensive purposes. I would just invoke the
    paradigm which many in the right in the US have invoked when it
    comes to Iran. And that is one of two ticking clocks. So there’s
    the regime change clock and there’s the nuclear clock. And the
    idea is that you have to make the regime change clock in Tehran
    expire faster than the nuclear talk so when the day comes when
    Iran actually weaponizes, it will be under more friendly,
    democratic Iranian regime. Now the fundamental contradiction of
    this policy is that when you try to expedite the regime change
    clock in Tehran you send the message to Iranian leaders that in
    fact the United States is after nuclear, is after regime change
    approach. And therefore you need to pursue a nuclear deterrent.
    So we have to get these clocks worked up. Is the option, is the
    goal to prevent Iran from going nuclear or is it to change the
    regime? If we continue to try to do both, that’s going to be Iran’s
    greatest impetus for pursuing a nuclear weapon.

    Robert Siegel:

    Thank you Karim Sadjadpour. And thank you to all six panelists
    for your very ardent contributions. It’s now time to announce the
    results of the audience voting and after our debaters did their
    best to sway you, you voted eighty two for the motion that we
    must tolerate a nuclear Iran. One hundred sixteen against. And
    twenty one remain undecided or don’t know how they would
    answer that. So congratulations to the opponents of the motion
    for their winning the debate here this evening. And to the
    proposer, and to the proposer and his team for increasing his
    tally so much after the debate. I’d just like to invite all of you to
    return in three weeks for the next Intelligence Squared US
    debate. Wednesday, October 18th, it’s here at Asia Society and
    Museum and the motion to be debated on that day is freedom of
    expression must include the license to offend. And the panelists
    will include such folks as Philip Gourevitch and Christopher
    Hitchens. I’ll let you try to figure out which side of the offending
    question Hitchens is going to be on. An edited version of tonight’s
    Intelligence Squared US debate can be heard locally on WNYC AM
    820 on Friday, October 6th at 2 PM. Outside of New York City
    you’ll have to check your local NPR member station listings for
    the date and time of broadcast there. Please be sure to pick up a
    copy of our media sponsor’s Thursday edition of the Times of
    London. And also a copy of the Times Literary Supplement on your
    way out and thanks to all of you for your support of Intelligence
    Squared US.

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