BEYOND SABER RATTLING….Recently on conservative sites I’ve been reading various versions of the following scenario about what a nuclear Iran would mean for American. This particular version comes from Mark Helprin in the Washington Post:

With an intermediate-range strategic nuclear capacity, it could…reign over the Persian Gulf…lead and perhaps unify the Islamic world, and thus create the chance to end Western dominance of the Middle East.

I’m genuinely not familiar enough with regional politics to know the answer to this, but is this even remotely plausible? Iran is ethnically Persian and confessionally Shia, after all, while the rest of the region is mostly Arab and Sunni. Is there any real chance that Iran could ever unite the Islamic world under its leadership?

The payoff for this fearmongering comes near the end of Helprin’s column:

As simply as it can be said, were Egypt to close the canal, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to lock up their airspace ? which, with their combined modern air forces, they could ? the U.S. military in Iraq and the Gulf, bereft of adequate supply, would be beleaguered and imperiled.

….We would do well to strengthen ? in numbers and mass as well as quality ? the means with which we fight, to reinforce the fleet train with which to supply the fighting lines, and to plan for a land route from the Mediterranean across Israel and Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates. And even if we cannot extricate ourselves from nation-building and counterinsurgency in Iraq, we must have a plan for remounting the army there so that it can fight and maneuver as it was born to do.

Translation: saber rattling might not work! Instead, we should guarantee war by building up our forces in response to the scary but laughably remote possibility that every single country in the entire region turns against us all at once. Sadly, I imagine that this is what passes for “being serious” about national security these days.