Dealing with a Nuclear Iran

I am seeing something of a shift among international relations specialists, in particular among the realists, with regards to a nuclear Iran. Following the lead of some of the less ideological experts like Thomas P.M. Barnett, many are contributing to a growing body of literature that deals not with how to keep Iran from getting the bomb, but in how do deal with Iran once it has thermonuclear weapons.

Among those specialists are the team at the RAND Corporation who collaborated on Iran’s Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices. In the book, they examine the challenges Iran faces in its national security, the role nuclear weapons might play in those challenges, and lays out the options open to the U.S. and the world in ensuring that the Islamic Republic’s plutonium scimitar remains sheathed without having to cave to nuclear blackmail.

Quite apart from the case of Iran, learning to deal with a world in which slow proliferation is a fact of life will be one of the great geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. What I suspect is that this slim but thoughtful volume will form the first of a growing body of work that will fundamentally redefine the conduct of international relations in the coming decades.

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