After having exhausted the indignant possibilities of protesting the extinction of whales, pelicans and polar bears, the left has found a new endangered species to be outraged about. Iranian nuclear scientists. It's one thing to hug a polar bear or a tree, but it's another to embrace an Iranian nuclear scientist, who may well be a jolly and colorful fellow with a family and a paint by numbers coloring kit of an atom, but also happens to be a participant in a plot to kill millions of people.
At The Atlantic, Ali Vaez and Charles Ferguson assure us that assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists makes a nuclear Iran more likely. The left specializes in irrational conundrums like this. Every time we kill a terrorist, they lecture us that this will only lead to more Muslims turning into terrorists to take their place. But really now are we to believe that Muslims will respond to the deaths of nuclear scientists by becoming nuclear scientists? Even if they do it will take them a while to get their degrees and by then Iran may not be run by a bunch of homicidal loons.
Meanwhile the same left which insists that Ahmadinejad didn't really say he wanted to destroy Israel and which spent years arguing that there was no real evidence that Bin Laden was behind September 11, has already decided that Israel was responsible. Their proof so far is an Israeli Brigadier General's Facebook comment that whoever did it, he isn't shedding a tear. If that's the left's standard of proof then I am clearly guilty of the murder of Bin Laden, Iranian nuclear scientists and anyone else whose death I haven't shed any tears for.
At the Guardian, some fellow whose last name is Hassan and looks rather angry about something, vehemently denounces the killings as "state sponsored terror". Iran knows a thing or two about state sponsored terror, considering that it is a state whose chief export besides, oil and heroin, is terrorism. Assuming that some state was sponsoring terror against Iran, it would be that "blowback" business which deep thinkers on international affairs love to bring up in conversations about September 11.
It's hard to think of any regime has more blowback coming to it than Iran. The Ayatollahs sponsor terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel and occasional detours into Asia and Latin America. Once such bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and wounded 300 more. People who were not engaged in researching new ways to wipe another ethnic group off the face of the earth.
If there's any place on earth that exceeds the Guardian and the Atlantic as a rubbish dump for moldy leftectuals, it's Israel's own Haaretz where Avner Cohen asks breathlessly, What if the Iranians start killing Israeli scientists? If Avner Cohen's father was as bright as him, then around the time that Lil Avner was in diapers, he asked his wife, "What if you get an abortion?"
Sure the Iranians have been killing Israeli road repairmen and kindergarten teachers through their proxy terrorist groups, but just imagine if they start killing Israeli scientists. Next thing you know people in the Middle East will start serving pita. Avner imagines that Israeli scientists have had some immunity until now. Their only immunity has been that Iran didn't care which Jews it killed, so long as someone named Moshe or David ended up splattered all over a wall somewhere. But Avner Cohen need not be too concerned that a member of the Revolutionary Guard will show up in his hotel room. A fellow as useful as him is not going to be on any target lists in Tehran.
Like so many of his colleagues, Avner Cohen doesn't seem to understand what genocide means or that the Ayatollahs and their henchmen actually mean it. This bubble of privilege is what makes their idiocy so repulsive. Like Michael Moore wondering on September 11 why Al Qaeda didn't bomb a state that voted for Bush, Cohen probably believes that the Iranian backed terrorists might take out a settler or two, or maybe one of those brown Mizrahi fellows who aren't clever enough to get out of the draft, but they would never touch a man with an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in the History of Culture.
The common consensus among the fellows of SPINS or the Society for the Protection of Iranian Nuclear Scientists is that killing Iranian nuclear scientists will only encourage Iran to develop nuclear weapons... which in any case they are doing anyway. The SPINS position is that if we keep trying to stop Iran's nuclear program, that will sabotage any efforts to talk Iran out of having a nuclear program. If the talks work half as well as they did in North Korea, then perhaps they are better off being sabotaged.
If not killing Iranian nuclear scientists leads Iran to continue developing its nuclear program and if killing them also leads it to continue developing its nuclear program, then we might as well plink some PhD's and see what happens. Punching a hole in the organizational charts of mass murderers seems like a better plan than waiting for them to realize that they don't need plutonium, all they really need is love.
Prattling about violations of Iranian sovereignty, when discussing a regime that violates the sovereignty of other states the way that other countries pick a national bird, is a waste of time even by the low standards of diplomatic breast beating. The Ayatollahs and their pet lunatic Mahmoud can't even share power among themselves, and their grip on power is a violation of their own laws and in opposition to the will of their own people. They are entitled to as much respect of their sovereignty as they can fit in a bucket and put on their heads.
It's unknown who or what is going through Iranian scientists and Revolutionary Guard commanders like used tissues, but it doesn't really matter. Since its grim early days this regime has lived on terror and it remains in power only through terror, through the murder, torture and rape of its political dissidents. With a tanking economy and dissent at home, it only has one thing to offer to its fanatical base. Mass murder.
It's not just the Israelis who don't want to see Ayatollah Atomica. Few of Iran's neighbors are too enthusiastic about the idea. Neither is Europe which doesn't particularly like the idea that the next time Salman Rushdie publishes a book that infuriates some holy beardo browsing the Guardian's book reviews in between doses of Hashish, the furious Islamist book critics will be able to threaten a radioactive review.
If worst comes to worst, a nuclear weapon would be the final doomsday option for a regime that is increasingly unpopular in some of its largest cities. There is nothing like taking out a section of Tehran to see to it that the Ayatollahs don't end up like a certain Libyan colonel. It may be hard for many of Iran's defenders to imagine a regime that would do this to its own people, except for the Bush Administration which they always believed was capable of anything.
At Salon, a site that most people assumed stopped operating around the time Clinton was in office, the always excitable Glenn Greenwald shrieked, "Does anyone have any doubt whatsoever that if Iran were sending hit squads to kill Israeli scientists in Tel Aviv, or was murdering a series of American scientists at Los Alamos that those acts would be universally denounced as Terrorism, and the only debate would be whether the retaliation should be nuclear, carpet-bombing, or invasion?"
Greenwald would probably prefer all three and as soon as possible to happen to Tel Aviv, but Iranian backed hit squads have been killing non-scientist Americans and Israelis for decades now, without nuclear carpets being bombed or invaded. Like most bigots, Greenwald is also an idiot who assumes that there is a double standard that is weighed against his favorite killers when it actually goes the other way.
Iran has gotten a blank check on decades of terror. If someone has finally written in a name and a number and is depositing the check, then it's a matter of Iran earning 0.000001 percent interest on its campaign of domestic and international religious terror.
At the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan, who is still under the impression that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has a fatwa permitting gay marriage in his drawer which he will publish when Sullivan has written enough columns demonizing Israel, asks "Is not the group or nation responsible for the murder of civilians in another country terrorists?" This is either the opening of a postmodern Shakespearean soliloquy or the world's dumbest moral dilemma.
Assuming that we define people obtaining Zyklon B for the gas chambers and Plutonium for the reactors as civilians and define killing them as terrorism, then we certainly are in a bit of a bind. But then again anyone who equates the random murder of civilians and the assassination of genocide conspirators has an anal fixation on categories while lacking basic moral reasoning skills and common sense.
If killing nuclear scientists serving the atomic production of a genocidal state is terrorism, then some of the worst terrorists were the OSS, the intelligence agency which directed its agent to make contact with Werner Heisenberg, then heading up Nazi Germany's nuclear program and kill him if there were any indications that Germany was close to having the bomb. Heisenberg never did bite the bullet, but did claim after the war that Nazi Germany had only wanted nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, while the Allies used it as a weapon of mass destruction. It's a lovely soliloquy that only a Sullivan or a Greenwald could believe.
What the tender soliloquies of SPINS members for dead Iranian nuclear scientists really show are the relative values placed on the lives of members of the Iranian war machine and those of their victims. There is no deep moral theorizing when an Iranian IED blows off the leg of an Iowa boy or a Hezbollah shell lands on an Israel kindergarten. That bottled outrage is only released when a Hamas terrorist loses a right of way argument with an attack helicopter or an Al Qaeda cleric takes a magic carpet ride via a flying drone.
Iranian nuclear scientists aren't the only ones who have children. There are cities filled with children that will be the targets of a Shiite bomb. Cities with Jewish children, Christian children and even the Muslim children that SPINS members claim to care so much about. If a few Iranian nuclear scientists experiencing a much more compact and limited explosion than the kind that they would unleash can help preserve those cities and those children then so be it. A few technicians of death are a small price to pay for the lives of millions.