Krauthammer vs Krauthammer, Ctd.

A reader challenged me to explain why this sentence in Charles Krauthammer's column didn't address the precise question I asked about whether Israel's own nuclear deterrence isn't enough:

Redundant, it will be said, because Israel could retaliate on its own. The problem is that Israel is a very small country with a small nuclear arsenal that could be destroyed in a first strike. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. created vast and invulnerable submarine fleets to ensure a retaliatory strike and, thus, deterrence. The invulnerability and unimaginably massive size of this American nuclear arsenal would make a U.S. deterrent far more potent and reliable than any Israeli facsimile and thus far more likely to keep the peace.

My bad. I guess I just presume that the Israeli nuclear capacity - of which we know not a huge amount for sure - is capable of devastating Iran and constructed to ensure invulnerability in any first strike. I'm not sure how Charles knows otherwise, and if there's evidence that Israel cannot unilaterally have viable nuclear deterrence, I'd be interested in understanding that further. But how many nukes would it take to devastate Iran? I imagine that both sides would get to the MAD point pretty quickly. I also presume that if Iran passed the nuke bomb threshhold, the Israelis would be way ahead of the game in making sure their deterrence was valid, and as devastating to Iran as any exchange would be to Israel. If the Israelis need help in maintaining such deterrence, we should of course, be willing. But I see no reason why fusing America's deterrence policy with Israel's makes Israel any safer and some reason to fear it would play into the hands of the worst elements in Iran's leadership.

I also think that once you have conceded that there may be any element in the Tehran leadership that is rational and is capable of responding to rational deterrence theory, the entire premise of the World War IV case implodes. The evidence of revolutionary Iran is, moreover, that it has acted as rationally as one might predict in responding to real military threats. If deterrence worked against Mao and can work against Kim Jong-Il, then a nuclear Tehran may be containable.