Look at Obama's logic--
The Threat: Iran cannot get a bomb. We will not allow Iran to get a bomb.
The Warning: Israel should not attack Iran.
The Implication: Israel might attack Iran.
The Development: Containment is not an option.
The Plan: ???
Obama mercifully commented that, "I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are..." Senator Mc Cain, take note (see previous post).
In this respect, I totally agree with the administration. Don't tell everybody what you plan on doing. It ruins the surprise. However, the mysterious "take no options off the table" plan that has been repeated so often in the media seems like a cop out to me. What is left to do? If we won't send a missile into a uranium enrichment lab, and we won't stop killing scientists (two things I'm very against), what is left? Cyber war? The Israelis did a pretty good job with that (see Stuxnet). Commando raid? Drones? Wimpy diplomacy?
I lean towards the wimpy diplomacy option. Obama mentions that both Libya and South Africa gave up their nuclear ambitions without a war. Quite right. I think that Iran could follow the same path, given certain conditions. (After all, for what it's worth, Ayatollah Khamenei thinks that nuclear weapons are "haram" or "forbidden". Check out his website! No, really. Ayatollah Khamenei has an English website. I'm not joking. Go ahead, nobody will care if you look at it. Here, I'll make it easy for you (Khamenei English) See? This is all very entertaining for me.) The most important condition should be that we actually talk to Iran, not shout at it through various media outlets. Check out this quote from a report by the International Crisis Group:
"Among countries uneasy with this approach, Turkey notably has stood for something different. It is highly sceptical about sanctions and rules out any military action. It believes in direct, energetic diplomatic engagement with a variety of Iranian officials. It is of the view that Tehran’s right to enrich on its soil ought to be acknowledged outright – a nod to its sense of dignity. And it is convinced that small steps that even marginally move the ball forward, even if far from the finish line, are better than nothing.Among countries uneasy with this approach, Turkey notably has stood for something different. It is highly sceptical about sanctions and rules out any military action. It believes in direct, energetic diplomatic engagement with a variety of Iranian officials. It is of the view that Tehran’s right to enrich on its soil ought to be acknowledged outright – a nod to its sense of dignity. And it is convinced that small steps that even marginally move the ball forward, even if far from the finish line, are better than nothing."
Let me put it this way: We can either take Iran and put it in "time-out", or we can sit down and talk to it. Put it in the corner, take away its lunch money, and place a brightly colored "Dunce" cap on its head -- or step into the hallway, sit down, and have a chat about its behavior and where we want to go from here. Maybe we'll go out to lunch and continue the conversation there.
Portraying Iran as a naughty child in my metaphor is frankly insulting to the country, but then again, that's exactly how the United States and Israel treat it. Keeping that in mind, what other options do the Iranians have, besides heating up the rhetoric and continuing the antagonism? Detention never worked in school, why would it work in international diplomacy? Beating children doesn't correct behavior, it encourages rebellion.
Imagine a burly Uncle Sam, stripped to the waist, snapping his belt over and over again, staring wild-eyed at the angry Iranian boy playing with his chemistry set. That is the extent of our communication.
If Washington wants to address the issue and reach some kind of understanding, they can start by treating the Iranians as a negotiating partner, not as a naughty schoolchild. My hope is that that is Obama's "take no options off the table" plan. I doubt it is.