Over the past few weeks, pronouncements and threats concerning Iran’s nuclear program have become increasingly worrisome. Inflammatory remarks by the US and Israel have elicited an equally inflammatory response from Iran, and the end result is anyone’s guess.
The tension has been building for months, and recently some top American officials have begun to question whether Israel really is on the brink of (overt) military action. After all, this scenario seems quite familiar. In an interview with CNN, Defense Secretary Panetta asserted that Israel has a tendency to go through cycles of belligerent statements in an effort to pressure the U.S. and Europe into more forceful action, but whether this amounts to another round of bluffing and bluster, an attempt to deliver a “credible military threat,” or something more, the rhetoric is equally dangerous.
The threat of accidental war due to unintended escalation by one or both sides is greater than ever, and the U.S. lacks a direct line of communication to Iran that might prevent such a catastrophe. Shortly before departing as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen expressed his concern that without such a line of communication, “it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right—that there will be miscalculation, which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”
Read the Center’s full analysis here.