Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Diplomatic Game on Iran

A complex simulation of the politics surrounding Iran's nuclear program turns out just the way you would imagine: the West has no good options, sanctions can't be made to work, Iran forges ahead doing whatever it wants, and the main point of tension is between the US and Israel over how to respond. Playing the Israeli Prime Minister was Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN:
Gold said the game clarified for him a worrying difference of opinion between U.S. and Israeli leaders: “The U.S. is moving away from preventing a nuclear Iran to containing a nuclear Iran — with deterrence based on the Cold War experience. That became clear in the simulation. Israel, in contrast, still believes a nuclear Iran must be prevented.”
David Ignatius sums up the results like this:
My scorecard had Team Iran as the winner and Team America as the loser. The U.S. team -- unable to stop the Iranian nuclear program and unwilling to go to war -- concluded the game by embracing a strategy of containment and deterrence. The Iranian team wound up with Russia and China as its diplomatic protectors. And the Israeli team ended in a sharp break with Washington.
I have already said what I think, which is that keeping Iran from getting the bomb is not worth a war. What to do if Israel attacks Iran is a hard problem I hope we don't have to face.

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