Jeffrey Goldberg: Learning to live with an Iranian bomb?


Michael J. Titten has a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which Goldberg explains why he suspects the world will need "to learn to live with the Iranian bomb":

MJT: Here, I think, is the big question: what should be done about Iran’s nuclear weapons? Would it be better to use military action – whether it’s American, Israeli, or both – or learn to live with the Iranian bomb?

Goldberg: I suspect we are going to be learning to live with the Iranian bomb.

MJT: Is that a good idea?

Goldberg: No. It’s terrible. But also striking Iran would be terrible.

This is an interesting question right now, at this moment in history. This might be a place where American interests and Israeli interests diverge somewhat. I think the Iranian nuclear weapons program does pose an existential threat to Israel. It doesn’t pose an existential threat to America. It poses a unique set of terrible challenges for America, but it doesn’t mean our existence here is in peril. So it might not be in America’s best interests right now to strike militarily – for any number of reasons, including the fact that it might not work. And if it does work, it would almost seem to justify, in a way, Iran seeking nuclear weapons. And the program might continue.

The thing we hope for is that Iran moderates itself, that the people of Iran who are more moderate than its leaders figure out a way to moderate this. The problem isn’t whether or not Iran has the bomb, it’s whether or not the mullahs have the bomb.

MJT: Sure.

Goldberg: As I wrote in a New York Times op-ed a few weeks ago, there are two Israeli strategic doctrines in confrontation right now. The first is: never do anything that harms the strategic relationship with the United States of America. The second is: prevent, at all costs, the possibility of a Second Holocaust. What if these two things come into conflict?

I tend to think that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu understands better than almost anyone else the imperative of maintaining a strong strategic relationship with the United States of America. But I also think he’s governed by his understanding of Jewish history.

If you are the de-facto leader of the Jews in a post-Holocaust world, what is the absolute worst thing you could do? Allow the formation of an existential threat to half the world’s remaining Jews. It’s a hard job.

Read the full interview.

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