Saturday, April 15, 2006

Limited Options

Iran's nuclear future continues to be on this nation's mind. Both the US and Iran have kept the dispute simmering, each trying to outdo the other in outrageous charges and countercharges, which is another way of saying that the news isn't good. An editorial in today's NY Times reminds us all that the US really doesn't have many options in dealing with the problem.

Let us not kid ourselves. Iran's drive to develop nuclear weapons technology would pose an enormous challenge for Washington even if the Bush administration had not tied United States ground forces down in Iraq, squandered its diplomatic credibility over Baghdad's nonexistent nuclear program and pursued a reckless energy policy that has made America the world's most extravagant oil guzzler and helped maximize Iran's petroleum leverage.

But those disastrous decisions have left Washington with far fewer plausible and credible tools than it might have had for managing a crisis that very much needs to be managed. The prospect of Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons, even in ten years' time, rattles people and governments, not just in Israel, but across the Middle East and beyond.

...The logical method would be concerted and coercive diplomacy. And that's where the costly policy mistakes of the past few years come in. Some of the countries Washington most needs to work with are still wary of the Bush administration's intentions, consistency and commitment to multilateralism. And the Iranians, with their increasingly strong hand in Iraq, do not seem to be feeling very coerced.
[Emphasis added]

One of the "disastrous decisions" that complicates things was the one that cheerfully welcomed India into the nuclear family under recently completed negotiations. India was never a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a treaty that Iran did sign and more or less abided by until recently. Obviously the regime looks to India to be a counter-balance to China in the East, but Iran sees itself as such a counterbalance in the Middle East. If India is entitled to nuclear weapons, why not Iran? That's the question that Iran is clearly hoping will be asked over and over again throughout the world and in the United Nations.

Direct negotiations with Iran, led by diplomats with less rhetorical baggage than the Secretary of State but with the authority to commit the US to a reasonable resolution is clearly the best option. Yet, the Emperor and his minions seem determined to continue with bellicose language, both explicit and implicit.

Military action, even in terms of an air campaign only, is quite simply the wrong approach. We have too many troops located within missile striking distance from Tehran. We have too many "allies" in the Middle East who desperately want to avoid more US led wars in the region. We have gone to that well too often, all with disasterous results.

Iran, which is certainly not helping to ease the tension, knows this and is playing on it. The Emperor in Chief has, once again, painted us into the corner he keeps claiming we've turned.


Post a Comment

<< Home