'The Coming Failure on Iran'

Rick Moran
Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post has a thoughtful analysis of the administration's Iran policy and how it very well might be changing into reluctantly accepting the idea that if Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, there isn't very much we can do about it:

For obvious reasons, senior officials won't state this broad conclusion out loud. But it's not hard to find pessimistic public statements about three of the four options. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the prospects for diplomacy "very doubtful." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said military action will do no more than "buy time." Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, echoing private statements I've heard from the Obama administration, told me last week that a strategy of backing the Iranian opposition "would take too long" and might well produce a government with the same nuclear policy.As for sanctions, Western officials rarely disparage them in public. They don't want to help spoilers in Russia and China who want to block U.N. action against Iran for their own reasons. But many are doubtful about them, and with good reason. Despite hints of cooperation by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the White House is pessimistic that Russia or China will agree to the sort of escalation in sanctions that would command Iran's attention, such as a ban on gasoline supplies or arms sales or new investments in oil and gas production.

Diehl points out that the UN tried sanctions on Iraq for 10 years and never got Saddam to obey Security Council resolutions. But the question of "What Next" is where it is pretty obvious that the Obama administration (and probably Bush before him) have come to the conclusion that accepting the Iranian bomb making capability is inevitable:

What then? Pollack, a former Clinton administration official, says there is one obvious Plan B: "containment," a policy that got its name during the Cold War. The point would be to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons or exercise its influence through the region by every means possible short of war -- and to be prepared to sustain the effort over years, maybe decades. It's an option that has been lurking at the back of the debate about Iran for years. "In their heart of hearts I think the Obama administration knows that this is where this is going," Pollack says.

I suspect he's right. I also don't expect Obama and his aides to begin talking about a policy shift anytime soon. For the next few months we'll keep hearing about negotiations, sanctions and possibly Israeli military action as ways to stop an Iranian bomb. By far the best chance for a breakthrough, as I see it, lies in a victory by the Iranian opposition over the current regime. If that doesn't happen, it may soon get harder to disguise the hollowness of Western policy.

Our military believes that any bombing option would be a temporary solution at best. What the Israelis believe is unknowable. Their internal debate over taking military action - even without the support of the US - continues. They have agreed to allow the west to attempt to place "crippling sanctions" on Iran.

When that doesn't happen - and it almost certainly won't - all bets are off and the clock begins ticking for the Israelis.

I have similar thoughts as Diehl on my own site.

 

 


Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post has a thoughtful analysis of the administration's Iran policy and how it very well might be changing into reluctantly accepting the idea that if Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, there isn't very much we can do about it:

For obvious reasons, senior officials won't state this broad conclusion out loud. But it's not hard to find pessimistic public statements about three of the four options. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the prospects for diplomacy "very doubtful." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said military action will do no more than "buy time." Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, echoing private statements I've heard from the Obama administration, told me last week that a strategy of backing the Iranian opposition "would take too long" and might well produce a government with the same nuclear policy.

As for sanctions, Western officials rarely disparage them in public. They don't want to help spoilers in Russia and China who want to block U.N. action against Iran for their own reasons. But many are doubtful about them, and with good reason. Despite hints of cooperation by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the White House is pessimistic that Russia or China will agree to the sort of escalation in sanctions that would command Iran's attention, such as a ban on gasoline supplies or arms sales or new investments in oil and gas production.

Diehl points out that the UN tried sanctions on Iraq for 10 years and never got Saddam to obey Security Council resolutions. But the question of "What Next" is where it is pretty obvious that the Obama administration (and probably Bush before him) have come to the conclusion that accepting the Iranian bomb making capability is inevitable:

What then? Pollack, a former Clinton administration official, says there is one obvious Plan B: "containment," a policy that got its name during the Cold War. The point would be to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons or exercise its influence through the region by every means possible short of war -- and to be prepared to sustain the effort over years, maybe decades. It's an option that has been lurking at the back of the debate about Iran for years. "In their heart of hearts I think the Obama administration knows that this is where this is going," Pollack says.

I suspect he's right. I also don't expect Obama and his aides to begin talking about a policy shift anytime soon. For the next few months we'll keep hearing about negotiations, sanctions and possibly Israeli military action as ways to stop an Iranian bomb. By far the best chance for a breakthrough, as I see it, lies in a victory by the Iranian opposition over the current regime. If that doesn't happen, it may soon get harder to disguise the hollowness of Western policy.

Our military believes that any bombing option would be a temporary solution at best. What the Israelis believe is unknowable. Their internal debate over taking military action - even without the support of the US - continues. They have agreed to allow the west to attempt to place "crippling sanctions" on Iran.

When that doesn't happen - and it almost certainly won't - all bets are off and the clock begins ticking for the Israelis.

I have similar thoughts as Diehl on my own site.