Thursday, December 5, 2013

Iran: War or Containment?

George Will goes at the Iranian nuclear issue with brutal clarity today. He is unimpressed by the President's diplomacy but scornful of his opponents' pronouncements:
Some advocates of war seem gripped by Thirties Envy, a longing for the clarity of the 1930s, when appeasement failed to slake the dictators’ thirst for territorial expansion. But the incantation “Appeasement!” is not an argument. And the word “appeasement” does not usefully describe a sober decision that war is an imprudent and even ultimately ineffective response to the failure of diplomatic and economic pressures to alter a regime’s choices about policies within its borders.
As far as Will is concerned, the only way we could really prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb would be to invade and occupy the country, which he has no interest in attempting. Aerial bombardment would only delay the bomb program while hardening the Iranians' resolve:
So, if stopping the program is important enough for war, is it important enough for an invasion of a nation with almost three times the population of Iraq and nearly four times the size?
We must, Will argues, prepare for the containment of a nuclear-armed Iran:
We have two choices, war or containment. Those who prefer the former have an obligation to clearly say why its consequences would be more predictable and less dire than those in the disastrous war with Iraq.
Exactly. I am not as sure as Will that diplomacy will not keep Iran from making a bomb -- there is much more in foreign relations than brutal realism, and most people would prefer that their countries be liked and their travel unrestricted --but if diplomacy fails, containment is a much better option than war.

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