Last week, Steve Clemons “posted”:http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001586.php about an Aspen conference of foreign policy luminaries who discussed solutions to the Iran nuclear issue. I’ll be interested to learn what they came up with.
Anyway, Steve wrote that
bq. …the single most important consensus that did seem to emerge from the discussion is that at some point in the not too distant future, President Bush will be handed a bleak, binary choice: either to authorize and launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear capacity and assets or to acquiesce.
One would hope that Bush’s FoPo team would be a bit more astute than that, but former speechwriter Michael Gerson “wrote something the other day”:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14322936/page/3/ which suggests otherwise. Obviously, whether Gerson’s piece reflects administration thinking is anyone’s guess.
I hope not, because Gerson displays a staggering degree of ignorance. I particularly like this sentence:
â€œIran’s destabilizing nuclear ambitions are not a guarded secret; they are an announced strategy.”
Observe the rest of Gersonâ€™s Iran musings:
Behind all the chaos and death in Lebanon and northern Israel, Iran is the main cause of worry in the West Wingâ€ the crisis with the highest stakes. Its government shows every sign of grand regional ambitions, pulling together an anti-American alliance composed of Syria, terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, and proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And despite other disagreements, all the factions in Iranâ€ conservative, ultraconservative and “let’s usher in the apocalypse” fanaticsâ€ seem united in a nuclear nationalism.
Some commentators say that America is too exhausted to confront this threat. But presidential decisions on national security are not primarily made by the divination of public sentiments; they are made by the determination of national interests. And the low blood-sugar level of pundits counts not at all. Here the choice is not easy, but it is simple: can America (and other nations) accept a nuclear Iran?
In foreign-policy circles, it is sometimes claimed that past nuclear proliferationâ€ say, to India or Pakistanâ€ has been less destabilizing than predicted. In the case of Iran, this is wishful thinking. A nuclear Iran would mean a nuclear Middle East, as traditional rivals like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey feel pressured to join the club, giving every regional conflict nuclear overtones. A nuclear Iran would also give terrorist groups something they have previously lacked and desperately want: a great-power sponsor. Over time, this is the surest way to put catastrophic technology into the hands of a murderous few. *All options have dangers and drawbacks. But inaction might bring the harshest verdict of history: they knew much, and they did nothing.*
The war in Iraq, without doubt, complicates our approach to Iran. It has stretched the Army and lowered our reservoir of credibility on WMD intelligence. *But Iran’s destabilizing nuclear ambitions are not a guarded secret; they are an announced strategy. If the lesson drawn from Iraq is that the world is too unknowable and complicated for America to act in its interests, we will pay a terrible price down the road.*
As these events unfold, our country will need a better way of doing business, a new compact between citizens and their government. Americans have every right to expect competence and honesty about risks and mistakes and failures. *Yet Americans, in turn, must understand that in a war where deception is the weapon and goal of the enemy, every mistake is not a lie; every failure is not a conspiracy. And the worst failure would be a timid foreign policy that allows terrible threats to emerge.*
There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iranâ€ and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. *There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a lineâ€ someone who says, “This much and no further.” At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American “cowboy diplomacy” did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.*
In other words, nothing anyone outside the White House thinks matters. We _know_ Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, despite anything approaching certainty on the question. History will later vindicate us, regardless of how bad we F-up now. It’s not our fault that Europeans are wusses.
The capâ€™s coming off the glue, doctor’s orders be damnedâ€¦