En 1947, George Kennan publicó – bajo el seudónimo de X; era un diplomático de carrera - un artículo en la revista Foreign Affairs, donde desarrollaba las tesis que había planteado al Departamento de Estado norteamericano en un largo telegrama. Esa comunicación probablemente es uno de los textos más importantes del siglo XX, pues allí se planteó por primera vez que el objetivo principal de la política de los Estados Unidos debería ser evitar la expansión de la Unión Soviética: la doctrina que implicaba contener al comunismo en las fronteras que había alcanzado hasta ese momento.


Es importante tener en cuenta que una de las posturas en el debate interno de los niveles dirigentes de la Alianza Atlántica, contra la que tácitamente se argumentaba, era la que planteaban quienes creían que el enfrentamiento bélico era inevitable, tarde o temprano, y contemplaban la opción de la guerra preventiva.


Aclaro: no es una comparación. Jerry Pournelle, el autor de las siguientes reflexiones, está retirado de cualquier tarea para el gobierno norteamericano, y muy lejos de la época en que colaboraba con Stefan Possony en “Strategy of Technology”(1968), uno de los libros claves de la Guerra Fría; y lo que aquí dice es una comunicación informal publicada en la web. Pero me parece a mí que expresa lo que piensan muchos norteamericanos, conservadores y además prudentes, y puede reflejarse en las políticas futuras hacia el mundo islámico en general e Irán en particular. Y quizás, hacia otras partes del mundo.

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Jerry Pournelle


First, anyone not blind will see that the West has been teaching powerful lessons over the years:
The first lesson is: if you are a dictator, or part of an unpopular government structure, get nukes, get them quick, get them in any way you have to. Get nukes and get them now.

The second lesson is, don't let go. Even if you are a reluctant dictator, even if you wish peace and democracy to your country, do not relax your grip, and do not contemplate retirement. That way lies persecution of yourself and your family, and you will probably die in a foreign jail. If you are lucky you may be put under house arrest or seek asylum in a foreign embassy.

If you are a dictator, your only chance of survival is to hang on and get nukes. Nothing else works.
Those are the lessons we teach, and anyone with sense has learned them well.

Certainly the mullahs have. Whether they have always wanted nukes, or learned to want them from the lessons the West has been teaching, is not important. They want nukes, they want them soon, and objectively they have every reason to desire them. It's a very rational desire.

That is the first thing we must understand.

Next: the mullahs understand that time is not really on their side: the West's cultural weapons of mass destruction are gnawing away at the vitals of fundamentalist Shiite Islam. The Shah opened the door, and his opening to the West and the White Revolution, while partly shut down, was permanent: in Iran they know that there is more to education than sitting on the floor and memorizing an ancient book; that there is more to life than blowing yourself up.

While the mullahs may have hopes for a different sort of society for Iran than is very likely to come, they aren't entirely unrealistic. And one way to divert this seduction of their young people is to stir the pot, make the confrontations important, go as far as they can short of provoking the West to invade. The attraction of blue jeans and rock music are great. Islam doesn't seem to be enough to overcome them. Patriotism is needed. That may do the job. And if you can convince the young people that jihad is necessary, that the West isn't going to let you have blue jeans and iPods, that the West is going to nuke your country and steal your oil and reduce you to peasantry, occupy your land but give you no security from bandits and religious enemies: if you can convince your young people that the West isn't going to let you have its goodies because it wants to steal everything you have and give you nothing -- then you are home free.

And that, I put it to you, is the mullah strategy. Convince the youth of Iran that the West is their implacable enemy; that the West is coming for them.

And if that takes provoking a tactical "surgical" nuclear strike on some Iranian facilities, why, it's a high price, but the stakes are very high.
And of course whatever we do to Iran and Syria merely confirms everyone's desires to get nukes and get them fast.

Contemplate this while trying to decide what to do about Iran and Syria.

There were a number of advocates of preventive war in the 1940's and 1950's. Patton's view, "We're going to have to fight the Russian SOB's anyway, so why don't we do it while we have a GD army over here to do it with?" was popular with many. Deterrence and containment, the long term strategy that we adopted, was less spectacular and didn't seem all that attractive. No sounding trumpets, no drums and flag. No SAC missions and flying bombs. The force would be generated and head out over the Arctic only to be called back. Plenty of drills. Men and women sitting in isolation in deep bunkers as the klaxons went off. EWO. EWO. Emergency War Orders. Emergency War Orders. I have a message in five parts. Tango. Xray. And so forth. But it was all a drill.

Deterrence is long, unspectacular, and often boring. Containment is frustrating. It worked, though. It contained militant Communism, a philosophy so attractive that it still claims a number of tenured professors. Communism was a lot more seductive to the West than militant Islam ever could be. Yet, in a few generations, that light failed, and Communism collapsed, not in nuclear fire but with a whimper and some artillery shells fired at a parliament building. Yet at one time, the USSR had 26,000 nuclear weapons, most of them deliverable and aimed at the USA. How many can Iran acquire with their best efforts? How many deliverable? By what means? We contained the USSR with 26,000. We deterred the USSR and chiliastic Communism which at one time had as militant a desire to sweep the world as ever did any jihadist.

Containment says: the enemy is expansive, and one of his strengths is that he is convinced that his victory is inevitable. God, or the flywheel of history, or the objective economic factors, or the laws of history, make victory certain. March in step with the flywheel of history. But if we show the enemy this is not true, that he is not expanding, that he is stuck with his inefficient system to stew in his own juices; when there is not enough to go around, then petty temptations to corruption become irresistible. If you believe strongly enough in the underlying religion, you will put up with hardships for the cause; but if the worms of doubt set in, and there is a shortage of the good things of life, human nature takes over. Corruption sets in. Inefficiencies get worse.
If we nuke Iran to destroy their capability for making nuclear weapons, we make it legitimate to use nuclear weapons to achieve cultural goals; we make preventive war a legitimate thing to do.
The result will be a change in strategy: buy a nuke. Use terror, use bribes, use infiltration, use any means necessary to get some nukes, and do nothing to provoke the west until you have them; but get them. In the West most things are for sale. Find ways to buy them.

Containment and deterrence work. Those are not spectacular policies; but they are proven. They do work. Contain Iran, and let our Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction have time to do their work. Syria and Iran have no counter weapons. Syria is already a defensive dictatorship with no pretense of legitimacy whose sole goal is stay in power. Iran is under the control of mullahs: will they prevail over the next Iranian generation? If so, how? What are their arguments? What can we do to make them lose control? And what can we do to convince the young Iranians that they are better off not following the mullahs?

Is anyone asking those questions?


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