It Doesn’t Matter If Iran is a Rational Actor


The operating assumption from many on both sides of the political aisle has been that Iran is a rational actor. Former President Barack Obama clearly adhered to this notion and it explains his signature on that terrible Iran deal. What few will tell you, however, is that operating behind Obama’s theory on Iran was the assumption that if Tehran was allowed to develop nuclear arms—and if the United States stepped back from the Mideast, leaving only Israel, the Sunni Arab states, and Iran—these powers would balance each other, creating relative peace.

As with so many of Obama’s ideas, this assumption was entirely theoretical and painfully naïve. Fact is, had the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran been continued, the Saudis inevitably would have bought nukes from Pakistan. While the Saudis may have reasons to be an ostensible ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia is home to some of the most ardent Sunni Islamist groups in the world.

What’s more, the ruling Saudi royal family maintains power through brutal autocratic practices. If the Saudi people were left to their own devices, it is more than likely that they would depose the Saudi royal family and replace them with a Sunni Muslim regime that mirrored Iran’s Shiite Muslim regime. And, if that Islamist Saudi regime had nuclear weapons—even if they remained nominally aligned with the United States against a nuclear-armed Iran—such a situation would hardly be peaceful.

In such a scenario, a nuclear-armed Israel, nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia, and nuclear-armed Iran would square off against each other. It would be a tripolar balance of power. Yet, tripolar orders are rarely stable; no grouping of three powers is likely to be evenly balanced against each other. Because of the inevitable imbalance of power, conflict becomes all but certain. In such a Mideast tripolar scenario, that conflict would be nuclear. Once started, a regional nuclear war, surely would expand into a world war, sucking in other powers, such as the United States, Russia, and China.

This nightmare scenario has been avoided because Iran has been unable fully to obtain a functional nuclear weapons capability. By the time the Obama Administration’s executive agreement with Iran was enacted, Obama had little more than a year left in office. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency in 2016, this deal would have been further advanced, and we likely would be in the midst of the nightmare scenario above outlined. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 brought these terrifying developments to a halt.

The Trump Administration has made the proper decision to empower Israel and the Sunni Arab states in a balance-of-power paradigm meant both to contain Iran’s expansionism as well as to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The plan was working, too. Rather, the plan was working until the Saudi-backed murder of Muslim Brotherhood member, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Now that Khashoggi’s gruesome murder has been revealed, Washington’s spineless political elite are up in arms—demanding that Washington discontinue its vital weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and that the current leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, be removed from power.

Should Salman be removed from power and American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia stopped due to the moral squeamishness of some in Washington, not only would jihadist elements within Saudi Arabia be empowered, Iran would be emboldened by Saudi Arabia’s weakness as well.

With the loss of Saudi Arabia as a viable partner in blocking the spread of Iranian power, the Trump Administration would be forced to revisit the oft-repeated notion that Iran is a rational actor. President Trump would have to renege on his campaign promise of ending the terrible Obama era Iran deal. He would have to reverse course and effectively reinstitute the Obama deal with Iran, in order to gain new leverage over Tehran. In other words, Trump would have to surrender the Middle East to Iran, selling out Israel in the process, just as Barack Obama did.

One can understand why Obama lackey, former CIA Director John Brennan, wants Mohammed Bin Salman to go.

Even if Trump did what Washington’s elites wanted, there’d be no promise of stability in the region. Instead, solidifying Iran’s rise would ensure a larger conflict—either with nuclear-armed Israel striking out first against Iran, or with Saudi Arabia going totally crazy, getting their own nukes, and starting conflict with their sworn Shiite enemies in Iran. Then again, more likely, such a scenario would lead to Iran handing off nuclear material to their terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, where either Israel, Europe, or the United States would be targeted in an act of nuclear terrorism.

I don’t want to risk everything to find out if Iran is rational or not. America must support Saudi Arabia. If the United States fails to do so, then Iran will march on the region and acquire nuclear arms.

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