In recent issues of The National Interest, there has been an ongoing discussion as to whether Iran can be deterred as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. I have serious doubts. The ideology that governs Iran is as noxious as the radicalism that fuels Al-Qaeda. Moreover, the resurgence of the fanatical spirit of the Iranian Revolution, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's commitment to exporting the revolution to Lebanon, the greater Middle East and the entire Muslim world, calls into question whether we can expect a nuclear Iran to be a rational state actor disciplined by deterrent doctrines such as "mutually assured destruction." Maurice R. Greenberg, who met with Ahmadinejad in New York this past September, summed it up: "We can't deal with him. You can't deal with this guy. I do not believe that we should let him come into possession of the capabilities to manufacture a nuclear device, or achieve it by an indirect means, such as buying it from somebody else."
While no one truly knows if a nuclear Iran would target Israel-though President Ahmadinejad continues to give this assumption credence-it is clear that a nuclear Iran will mean an emboldened Iran. Iran has taken full advantage of the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the void left in Central Asia and the Middle East, to make its bid for regional supremacy. The regime already uses surrogate terrorist organizations like Hizballah and Hamas to spread terror, while avoiding direct links to these cowardly activities. Proxy wars, like the battle this past summer between Hizballah and Israel, will become the rule-not the exception-and this could lead to increased clashes between Iranian-trained and financed groups and U.S. forces, a pattern already evident in Iraq.