In the new issue of the Weekly Standard Reuel Marc Gerecht usefully summarizes the armed intransigence of Iran’s current leadership and decries “the return of weakness.” Commening on Iran’s drive to produce a nuclear weapon, Gerecht observes:
The Obama administration now runs the risk of appearing weak in its dealings with Tehran. Whether through mirror-imaging or conflict avoidance, it has set the stage for an embarrassing denouement. Unless Washington can convince itself, and then the Europeans, to implement draconian sanctions, Iran will get its nuke. Once that happens, the appeasement (or engagement) reflex will come powerfully into play. The Islamic Republic’s appetite to push its newly obtained strategic advantage could prove irresistible.
The clerical regime has never abandoned its ecumenical outreach to Sunni militants. American success, or more likely failure, in Iraq or Afghanistan could be a powerful spur to Iran to strike. State-supported terrorism, which would be both denied and nuclear-protected, could come ferociously back at us. It was a truly nervy move for Damascus, Tehran’s closest Arab ally, to have the North Koreans build a uranium-processing plant (the one the Israelis bombed in September 2007). But then, terrorist-supporting “rogue states,” by definition, do nervy, unexpected things.
I think Gerehct considerably understates the case concerning Obama’s message of weakness, but his article fairly sketches out the stakes. Elsewhere in the Standard Peter Berkowitz complements Gerecht. Berkowitz explains why they’re nervous in the Gulf downwind from Iran.
On a related note, Todd Bensman reports that iran is setting up shop south of the border..