Halting a Nuclear Iran: If Diplomacy Fails
|This is the most difficult as well as dangerous issue to be confronted since 9/11. That the true goal of the Iranian nuclear effort is weaponry rather than peaceful energy seems apparent to the world. The Iranian refusal of Russian offers to perform enrichment processing for them if they agree to halt internal enrichment makes it crystal clear, if all the other evidence were not enough. Even France seems to get this one. |
The American hope had for some time been that Iran would basically “solve itself” by the emergence of a more pro-western younger generation that would bring about change internally. That hope has all but disappeared since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The road of diplomatic measures, sanctions, and other measures short of military intervention will of course be pursued. It does not, unfortunately, appear likely to succeed with an Iran under the Jihadist leadership currently in power. At that point, the options will be few and grim.
From a purely military and logistical point of view, air strikes alone are unlikely to get the job done according to most analysts. Adding the element of a ground invasion is a scenario that would be extraordinarily costly both in the loss of life and the difficulties for American forces, given our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it comes to military action, substantive international assistance would evaporate if recent history serves as any predictor.
Stalwart allies are hard to come by. Beyond Britain, Israel, and few other countries with limited military capability, who would you count on? Israel is in a terrible situation at the moment. The illness of Ariel Sharon came at a critical point, just as he was attempting to change the political landscape within that country in March elections. The Palestinian election victory of Hamas just turned the heat up further. These events will not change the Israeli position on Iran, but it certainly is a distraction.
Even if the military hurdles could be overcome, that leaves us with the political and economic aftermath. Direct military action would further galvanize Islamic hatred throughout the world. The governments of Islamic countries that have so far managed to at least partially resist internal fundamentalist pressures would likely come to a boiling point. Jihadist propagandists everywhere would fan the flames. The riots we have seen over a few Danish cartoons would be nothing in comparison to the violence that would follow.
The world oil markets would go into apoplexy. Prices would soar far beyond the worst current projections. Just the news that Iran admitted to renewing it's uranium enrichment program has sent prices upward this week.
Despite the dangers of military intervention, the alternative of allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons is an even worse option. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday reflected the tough choices we face. It showed that “69 percent said they were concerned that the Bush administration would be too quick to use military force, yet 67 percent were also concerned the United States wouldn't do enough to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons”. Over three quarters expressed a belief that Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel or the United States either directly or by supplying the arms to terrorists.
Let us hope for a peaceful solution. The prospect of a nuclear armed Islamic Jihad leaves no choice should it fail.