I know I’m way, way late to the game in blurbing this, but I wrote my April Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist column on Iran and the C-word. Here’s an excerpt:
If Iran cannot be peacefully convinced to curtail its nuclear program, the president could soon be faced with a hugely consequential decision: attack Iran in an attempt to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, or recognize that it could do so and embrace deterrence and containment instead. By staking American credibility on a policy of prevention at all costs, Obama may end up believing he has to choose war. But he would be wrong, because deterrence (threatening devastating retaliation) and containment (blunting the spread of Iranian power and influence) may in fact be more prudent than preventive attack.
This is obviously a loaded subject and I wasn’t able to explore all the various different aspects and nuances of it in 1,200 words. For a more detailed treatment of the subject, I recommend the recent Center for a New American Security report by Colin Kahl, Raj Pattani, and Jacob Stokes titled “If All Else Fails: The Challenges of Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran”. While I have disagreements with some of the arguments (which I hope to detail sometime soon on the blog), its an incredibly thoughtful and exhaustive piece of research and analysis.