“It takes a _________ to catch nuts and war criminals?”

Mark Kleiman’s latest defense of pre-empting Iran would be more convincing if he didn’t let slip his opinion of the person doing the pre-empting.

Mark’s latest post on pre-empting Iran’s nukes is thorough and well-reasoned (though of course I think it’s all wrong), and I don’t have too much to add to our intra-blog ruckus for now.

But I can’t help noticing one thing in it. Scroll down to his point 6, which includes this:

We needn’t imagine a truly crazy Iranian regime to worry about its actually using its nukes once it had them, only an Iranian regime run by someone as crazy as John Foster Dulles or Donald Rumsfeld [emphasis added].

Er, who exactly would be in charge of this pre-emptive attack again?

Compare the doctrine of Mark’s teacher Thomas Schelling: that a rational nuclear strategist might want to make the world think he was crazy. One might have trusted JFK with such a strategy—or not. But when the President (reportedly) enthusiastic about it was Nixon, who didn’t have to pretend very much…

Author: Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.