Nor is Odom correct to assume that welcoming Iran and North Korea into the nuclear club will bring security. Cold War stability is a myth; the United States and the Soviet Union were simply lucky that nuclear crises did not spin out of control. Add the messianic ideology of some factions of Iran's clerical leadership to the mix, and the efficacy of traditional deterrence is even less certain. If Odom does not recognize the primacy of ideology to Iran's theocratic leadership, he misunderstands the Islamic Republic's motivations for its long embrace of terrorism and its defiance of international norms. Arguing that the Iranian leadership opposes al Qaeda is undermined by the findings of the 9/11 Commission. Pragmatism in Iran's theocratic circles is often more about bridging the Islamic sectarian divide to combat Western culture than a sincere effort at diplomacy. Although external regime change is out of the question, policymakers in the United States should neither preserve rogue regimes against their own demographic pressures nor rescue them from their economic failures. Offering inducements to them on the nuclear issue would do just that.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI.