Blogosphere Discovers Iran

Word that Iran is capable of enriching uranium and reports that the Bush administration is well along with plans to nuke the country's nuclear program create a storm of anxiety, speculation and acerbic wit.

Iran is very much on bloggers’ minds this week. Specifically, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s surprise revelation that his country is now capable of enriching uranium, a first step towards the A-bomb or, as the Terror of Tehran put it this morning, “Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase,we say: Be angry and die of this anger.” This news quickly combined with Seymour Hersh’s shocker in the New Yorker reporting that the Bush administration is well along with plans to nuke Iran’s nuclear program to create a perfect blog storm of anxiety, mad speculation and acerbic wit.

Over at Daily Kos, ABA sums it up pretty well: “It looks like we are definitely headed to a showdown with Iran, whether it is an economical one or a military confrontation. A military conflict will have repercussions that need not be explained. An economic confrontation will be devastating in its own way depending on how long it is carried on. Also, an economic confrontation will inevitably bring on a military conflict. So to me things are not looking good anyway you look at it.”

Some bloggers are trying to calm everyone down and offer some — what’s that word? — oh, yeah, perspective. Juan Cole, ever the expert on these types of things, chimes in thusly: “The ability to slightly enrich uranium is not the same as the ability to build a bomb. For the latter, you need at least 80 percent enrichment, which in turn would require about 16,000 small centrifuges hooked up to cascade. Iran does not have 16,000 centrifuges. It seems to have 180. Iran is a good ten years away from having a bomb, and since its leaders, including Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, say they do not want an atomic bomb because it is Islamically immoral, you have to wonder if they will ever have a bomb.”

The New York Times today reached the same conclusion in a page one analysis. But, as is to be expected, especially if it’s coming from the Times, the neoconservative bloggers don’t buy it. Not Daniel McKivergan at the Weekly Standard’s Worldwide Standard: “The editors at the paper have weighed in on what to do about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons — in two words, not much. Their argument boils down to this: Tehran is a decade away from a bomb, so all the ‘saber rattling’ is unnecessary and counterproductive. We should encourage Iran’s political evolution and let their government know that they’re ‘better off’ without nuclear bombs. Sanctions are not mentioned … I hope Iran is ‘about 10 years away from building’ nuclear bombs as the editors claim, but how do they know with such certainty? They don’t say where they got that number. In fact, their favorite weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has pegged the number at ‘five years’ and the Los Angeles Times has reported that the number may be ‘within three years.’”

The State of Fluxt resorts to chanting: “Say it with me now: Iran will not have nuclear weapons within the next 5 years. Iran will not have nuclear weapons within the next 5 years. No matter what the propagandists in the Bush administration tell you.”

Of course, the blogosphere being the blogosphere, there are those who see every bit of news, even the darkest, as just fodder for some fun. Take Get Detroit who looks at a nuclear Iran and giggles: “Pre-production for start of World War III under way. And ya know, it has been awhile since we’ve had a good old-fashioned world war sequel. Besides, the trilogy might finally be completed, and we can finally watch George Bush turn into Darth Vadar.”

We’re not quite capable of such levity. George Lucas isn’t the filmmaker most coming to mind these days — we’ve been thinking instead of Stanley Kubrick, as in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

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Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.