NYT BLUF: As much as we and others try to constrain the Iranians, through sanctions and through acts of sabotage, they are making slow but steady progress and now have enough nuclear material that, with a little more refinement, will allow the production of several nuclear weapons in the near future, if they choose.
Let us look at a little history.
Declaration of Independence—1776
Victory at Yorktown—1781 (5 years)
Treaty of Parist—1783 (2 years)
War of 1812—1812 (29 years)
Treaty of Ghent—1814 (2 years)
A total of 38 years from that signing ceremony in Philadelphia on the 4th of July, 1776, to the Treaty of Ghent, actually rarified in February 1815.
For Iran, its revolution was in 1979. That would be 33 years ago and they are still settling out.
On the other hand, it is not clear the French Revolution has ever ended. (For those of you who will take Professor Scott Russell's "Napoleon and the French Revolution" class, that is a question on the final—when did the French Revolution end?)
So, Iran is probably still in its revolutionary phase and not likely to easily go along with the interests of the other nations which have an interest in its future. Even if the People of Iran strongly dislike the current regime or even dislike the form of government, they will not take kindly to other nations trying to tell them how to refine uranium and how to then use that refined uranium.
My conclusion: Our current efforts are probably buying time, but not enough. Further, a military attack will, again, buy time, but in the end the Iranians will have a supply of highly enriched uranium. Our focus should be on how they use that highly enriched uranium. This is not a very satisfying answer, but in international relations that is sometimes the case. As Thucydides tells us in the History of the Peloponnesian War,
… the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
What to do? Blogger Michael J Totten said it well in a 2 January 2008 post from Fallujah, Iraq:
Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You Meet.So, the Department of State needs to be looking for solutions that don't involving war, but the Pentagon and US Central Command need to be making plans in the event Iran both develops and employs nuclear weapons and the President and Congress decide to act with military force in response to that employment. I counsel against "preventive war" with regard to Iran.
Regards — Cliff
♠ I like the fact that The New York Times continues the old practice of capitalizing the important words in titles. It is so civilized.