Now You Know: Bush's Goal is to Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Knowledge

President Bush has done us the service of clarifying U.S. policy towards Iran's nuclear program. The New York Times reported yesterday:

Bush said he had "told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

Thus, the goal of the Bush Administration is not merely to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but to prevent Iran from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. That's a very different goal. It was fairly clear before that this was the true U.S. policy, but now President Bush has done us the service of making it explicit. The Iranians have long charged that the goal of U.S. policy was to prevent them from acquiring knowledge. As it turns out, the Iranians were right.

You could of course argue that, if you want to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, one way to do it would be to prevent them from acquiring the technical knowledge necessary to produce one. But we should be clear what this policy entails. It is almost certainly the case that there is no way to achieve this goal through the international diplomatic framework. Such a goal could only be achieved, if it can be achieved at all - which is doubtful - through unilateral action.

Will the end, will the means.

The goal of preventing Iran from actually acquiring nuclear weapons, on the other hand, could very likely be achieved through diplomacy.

So, if you want to achieve a resolution of the conflict over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy, then Bush's stated policy cannot be the goal.

If, on the other hand, you choose Bush's goal, then you are not choosing diplomacy. You are choosing unilateral action, that could well lead to war.

Keeping the "option" of force on the table is consistent with Bush's goal. Taking the "option" of force off the table is consistent with diplomacy.

On October 27, folks across the country will be marching to demand the end of the Iraq war. Some folks will also be marching to oppose war with Iran. If you want to march against war with Iran, the Syracuse Cultural Workers have made a poster for you, which can be downloaded from their website. On the main page, scroll down to the bottom.