Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Hard Line vs. The Bottom Line

I've been turning over the implications of the article penned by my former bosses at Cato, Justin Logan and Ted Carpenter, on the Iran impasse. I am, unfortunately, persuaded. The perils of this sordid business are so morally and strategically crippling that it seems however our global authority might be defeated by military strikes, the future of permitting a nuclear Iran will be just as punishing to our influence in world affairs. And not merely in the respect that Julian Sanchez anticipates, pointing out that negotiating toward normalization will make a farcical spectacle out of America's non-proliferation policy. This move will force into light a terribly difficult dilemma for the sculptors of our war on terror. With this possible shift in policy, we will clumsily be renouncing basic premises of the neoconservative solution to terrorism. We have for years been vowing identical recourse to terrorists and the states who sponsor them. A deal with Iran is this proposition's antithesis. Right now, these are the only set of cogent principles on which our government seems capable of operating - this is not to indict a fact, but to state it.

But here is where things darken. Why not to strike at Iran is even more debilitating. It cannot accomplish anything. Unlike in Iraq, the initial strategic mission will almost certainly fail. It makes no sense to shred the tireless experimenting, war-gaming, and empirical analysis that goes into what is now an approximate (and fastidious) consensus among experts that the military option is anything but. That Fox News manages to trot out every Gen. McInerney copycat on its list of contacts to parrot the same non-information is not contrary evidence, but rather propaganda. What begins with narrow, well-defined priorities would very likely compel a nebulous ad hoc policy shift toward full-on regime change - for which hawkish policymakers are even less prepared than they were in the case of Iraq. That a preemptive shell game played with a maniacal regime would hedge its bets against the deployment of nuclear weapons within range of America's only strategic partner in the Middle East ought to be called what it is: a fool's errand. The military option is not an option. Politics must prevail, or the West is helpless against a nuclear Iran. The last two words of the previous sentence mean far more than they would in the absence of such steadfast commitments forthcoming.

Here's the Carpenter-Logan piece, in case you wish to avoid sleep tonight:

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6366

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