No Easy and Safe Options
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton’s assessment of the options available to the United States in dealing with Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons ought to be absorbed and addressed by those on any side of the debate:
Sad to say, Obama’s Iran policy is not much different from that of George W. Bush in his second term. Relying on multilateral negotiations (the Perm Five-plus-one mechanism), resorting to sanctions (three Security Council resolutions), and shying away from the use of force are all attributes inherited directly from Bush. Bush’s policy failed to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Obama’s will fail no less, leading to an Iran with nuclear weapons.
The issue now, however, is not this bipartisan history of failure, but what to do next. The Qom disclosure only highlights just how limited, risky, and unattractive are the four basic options: allow Iran to become a nuclear power; use diplomacy and sanctions to try to avert that outcome; remove the regime in Tehran and install one that renounces nuclear weapons; or use preemptive military force to break Iran’s nuclear program.
In practical terms, the options boil down to two: tolerate a nuclear Iran or pursue regime change. In brief, I favor a military strike — a NATO-type venture in an ideal, although fantasy, world; a green-lighted Israeli effort in all likelihood — to provide time for the West to encourage internally motivated regime change, in part leveraging the apparent progress of Iraq.