Thinking about the unthinkable

Not long ago, I declared that the administration would soon have to decide whether to attack Iranian nuclear facilities or accept a nuclear Iran. The Washington Post reports, however, that the administration is concentrating instead on diplomatic initiatives.
The administration has succeeded in advancing the ball on the diplomatic front. As the Post notes, it has brought the issue to the Security Council, which is expected to declare Iran in violation of nuclear traaty obligations and demand that it suspend uranium enrichment. If Iran fails to do so, the next step would probably be an attempt to impose economic sanctions. Here, however, difficult questions arise — will Russia and China support tough sanctions; would even tough sanctions be enough to cause Iran to forego the development of nukes?
I continue to believe that the decision comes down to a choice between military action and accepting a nuclear Iran. But that doesn’t mean that the diplomatic actions the administration is taking are misguided. Arguably, we will be in a better position to take military action against Iran if we have pursued our diplomatic options, as long as we don’t wait too long.
The Post article concludes with an unnamed “Senate Republican leadership aide” claiming that, in light of the intelligence failures in Iraq, President Bush is constrained to the point that “it’s hard to see [the Iranian situation] getting resolved under the Bush administration.” I disagree. In my view President Bush will not pass this crisis on to the next administration, in part because that’s not his style and in part because it’s hard to see some of those with the best chance of succeeding Bush resolving the situation.


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