That line reads like a caption to a picture no one wants to see. But it captures some of what's at stake in our next debate, where the motion is: “Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran.” Might the answer be “yes”?
The very idea, of course, is preposterous, and intolerable, as far as the current Israeli government is concerned. Not only does a nuclear Iran conjure up that scary “day after” scenario (the day after Iran actually uses a nuclear weapon against a tiny, densely populated Israel) – but even in the absence of an attack, Israel would not want to live with the new day-to-day reality of an Iran that can merely threaten such a thing. Or an Iran that might supply such weapons to a terrorist group. Or an Iran that, as any power can, might happen to slip up, and trigger a nuclear war by accident. Of course, it doesn't help that Iran's current president has said he wants Israel wiped from the map.
But not all Israelis see it that way. A nuclear Iran, they argue, would not put Israel's existence much more at risk than it is already. For one thing, they're pretty sure, Iran's leaders are not crazy. They don't want nukes flying east and west any more than Israel does. And the example of North Korea shows that, just because a rogue state gets the bomb, doesn't mean it gets to throw its weight around. And by the way, South Korea is showing it's quite possible to live with a hostile nuclear power next door (as are India and Pakistan).
The great thing about the two teams of debaters we've assembled is that they all know this topic intimately, and have written about it extensively (see some selections in the right hand column). They respect each other – even those they'll be opposing – for bringing a serious, well-thought-out argument to the stage. That doesn't mean they don't want to win on debate night, and change a lot of minds, maybe even yours.
John Donvan, Moderator
Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates