Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

Be it resolved, the world cannot tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons capability...

November 26, 2012

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It has been rightly characterized as the toughest foreign policy challenge in a generation: how should the world respond to Iran’s nuclear ambitions? For some, the case for a preemptive strike on Iran is ironclad. An Iranian bomb would flood the volatile Middle East with nuclear weapons and trap Israel in a state of perilous insecurity—along with much of the world’s oil supply. Others argue that a nuclear Iran could be the very stabilizing force that the region needs, as the threat of nuclear war makes conventional conflicts more risky. These same voices also ask: can the West and Israel afford to attack Iran when doing so could rollback the Arab Spring and re-entrench reactionary forces throughout the Middle East?

The tenth Munk Debate will tackle these game-changing issues by moving the motion: Be it resolved the world cannot tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons capability.

The Results

Pre-Debate

60%

Pro

24%

Con

16%

Undecided

Post-Debate

58%

Pro

42%

Con

CON gains 18%. CON wins

The Debaters

Amos Yadlin

Amos Yadlin

Pro

"There is no hotline between Tel Aviv and Tehran, and no other stabilizing mechanisms between us and the Iranians, so the danger of an unplanned nuclear confrontation is significant. "

Amos Yadlin

Amos Yadlin

Pro

"There is no hotline between Tel Aviv and Tehran, and no other stabilizing mechanisms between us and the Iranians, so the danger of an unplanned nuclear confrontation is significant. "

Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin was named director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in November 2011, after more than 40 years of service in the Israel Defense Forces, ten of which he was a member of the IDF General Staff.

From 2006-2010, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin served as the IDF’s chief of Defense Intelligence. From 2004-2006, he served as the IDF attaché to the United States. In February 2002, he earned the rank of major general and was named commander of the IDF Military Colleges and the National Defense College.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin, a former deputy commander of the Israel Air Force, has commanded two fighter squadrons and two airbases. He has also served as Head of IAF Planning Department (1990-1993). He accumulated about 5,000 flight hours and flew more than 250 combat missions behind enemy lines. He participated in the Yom Kippur War (1973), Operation Peace for Galilee (1982) and Operation Tamuz – the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq (1981).

Yadlin holds a B.A. in economics and business administration from Ben-Gurion University and a Master's degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

Pro

"Deterring Iran is fundamentally different from deterring the Soviet Union. You could rely on the latter but not on the former."

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

Pro

Deterring Iran is fundamentally different from deterring the Soviet Union. You could rely on the latter but not on the former.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and named by The Financial Times as the most influential commentator in America, Charles Krauthammer has been honored from every part of the political spectrum for his bold and original writing—from the famously liberal People for the American Way (which presented him their First Amendment Award) to the staunchly conservative Bradley Foundation (which awarded him their first $250,000 Bradley Prize).

Since 1985, Krauthammer has written a syndicated column for The Washington Post for which he won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. It is published weekly in more than 275 newspapers worldwide.

Krauthammer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington. He is also a contributor to FOX News, appearing nightly on FOX's evening news program, Special Report with Bret Baier.

For three decades, his influential writings have helped frame the shape of American foreign policy. He coined and developed The Reagan Doctrine (TIME, April 1985), defined the structure of the post-Cold War world in The Unipolar Moment (Foreign Affairs, Winter 1990/1991) and outlined the principles of post-9/11 American foreign policy in his much-debated Irving Kristol Lecture, Democratic Realism (AEI Press, March 2004).

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough calls him "without a doubt, the most powerful force in American conservatism." National Review featured him on its cover as "Obama's critic-in-chief." New York Times columnist David Brooks says that today "he's the most important conservative columnist." Born in New York City and raised in Montreal, Krauthammer was educated at McGill University, Oxford University and Harvard. While serving as a resident and then chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, he published scientific papers, including the discovery of a form of bipolar disease, that continue to be cited in the psychiatric literature.

In 1978, he quit medical practice, came to Washington to help direct planning in psychiatric research in the Carter administration, and began contributing articles to The New Republic. In 1980, he served as a speechwriter to Vice President Walter Mondale. He joined The New Republic as a writer and editor in 1981. His New Republic writings won the 1984 National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism, the highest award in magazine journalism.

From 2001 to 2006, he served on the President's Council on Bioethics. He is president of The Krauthammer Foundation and chairman of Pro Musica Hebraica, an organization dedicated to the recovery and performance of lost classical Jewish music. He is also a member of the Chess Journalists of America.

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Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Con

"Iran has not surrendered, and Israel seems to view any other scenario as unacceptable. "

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Con

Iran has not surrendered, and Israel seems to view any other scenario as unacceptable.

Fareed Zakaria has been called “the most influential foreign policy advisor of his generation” and was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010.

Zakaria is the host of CNN’s flagship international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, which features interviews and panel discussions with heads of state, intellectuals and business leaders and has been broadcast to more than 300 million homes around the world. He is also a Washington Post columnist, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author.

Zakaria served as editor-at-large for TIME magazine from 2010 to 2014, prior to which he oversaw all of Newsweek’s foreign editions. His columns have received many awards over the years, including a National Magazine Award in 2010. His 2001 Newsweek cover story, “Why They Hate Us” remains his most well-known and lauded.

As a book author, Zakaria has received plenty of acclaim. The New York Times Book Review called his 2008 book The Post American World, which was a New York Times bestseller, “relentlessly intelligent” and The Economist called it “a powerful guide” to facing global challenges. The Future of Freedom, published in 2003, was also a New York Times bestseller and was translated into 25 languages. His most recent book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, was published in 2015 and praised by the New York Times as “an accessible, necessary defense of an idea under siege.”

Zakaria was born in India, received a bachelor of arts from Yale College and a Ph. D. from Harvard University. He has received honourary degrees from numerous universities, including Johns Hopkins, Brown, the University of Miami and Oberlin College. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

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Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr

Con

"As for attempting to rein in Iran, that could prove both counterproductive and unnecessary."

Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr

Con

As for attempting to rein in Iran, that could prove both counterproductive and unnecessary.

Named one of the most powerful Democrats on U.S. foreign policy by the Foreign Policy magazine, Tehran-born Vali Nasr is a renowned expert on foreign policy and on the politics and social development of the Middle East and the Muslim world. He is Dean of The Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings Institution, and a member of the U.S. State Department's Foreign Policy Advisory Board.

Nasr has advised senior American policy makers, world leaders, and businesses, including presidents and vice presidents, senior cabinet secretaries of both parties, senior members of the Congress, congressional committees, military leaders, and presidential campaigns. From 2009 to 2011 Nasr served as senior advisor to the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

He taught international politics at the Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, University of San Diego, and served as a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and on the faculties of the Naval Postgraduate School, Stanford University, and the University of California, San Diego.

Nasr is the best-selling author of numerous books, including The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future; and Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty. Two of his most recent books, The Shia Revival and Forces of Fortune, correctly predicted major world events, such as postwar sectarian violence in Iraq and the surge of the Arab Spring.

He is also a columnist for Bloomberg View and has written for The New York TimesForeign AffairsThe New RepublicNewsweekTimeFinancial TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has been widely interviewed on Middle East issues and has provided expert commentary on CNN, NBC, NPR and PBS and has been a guest on Larry King Live, the Daily Show with Jon StewartThe Colbert Report, and GPS with Fareed Zakaria.

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