Debating the U.S. Approach to Iran – Michael Doran (Mosaic)
(dailyalert.org, Feb. 4, 2015)
A large group of senators is currently supporting legislation that will make the re-imposition of sanctions mandatory and immediate if the Iranians fail to make a deal by the time the current term of the interim agreement lapses. In an effort to bolster that initiative, Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress on Iran.
The White House reacted in a storm of indignation. Instead of trying to paper over the disagreement, Obama has done everything in his power to advertise it. In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them – and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided.
The president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared detente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena.
As a matter of ideology as much as strategy, Obama believes that integrating Iran into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure. He appears also to believe that his method is working.
In the meantime, the seasoned thugs in Tehran grow stronger and bolder: ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity, ever more confident in their hegemonic objectives. At minuscule and temporary inconvenience to themselves, they have not only reaped the economic and diplomatic rewards pursuant to participation in the interim agreement, but also fully preserved their nuclear ambitions and the means of achieving them.
Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, they have good reason to be confident.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council.