By Laicie Heeley
November 7, 2013
America’s core interests in the Middle East will pivot around Geneva this week as five world powers and Iran resume negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. The United States should remain committed to a reasonable, verifiable and enforceable deal, as all other roads lead to a nuclear-armed Iran or a devastating regional war.
Yet, heading down the wrong road will not deter some in Congress, who, fresh from shutting down the government appear increasingly poised to shut down America’s best hopes to prevent a nuclear Iran. Underpinning their thinking are dangerous policies that risk setting America’s national security interests back another decade. The importance of testing Iran at the negotiating table is clear, and it is made ever clearer when you examine the wrongheaded policy alternatives that have been proposed as a solution.
Opponents of diplomacy have offered a variety of alternatives, but they essentially boil down to three choices: military force, regime change or escalating economic pressure, which is the current strategy. None of these flawed tactics will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. But, as each fails for different reasons, it’s important to review their shortcomings one-by-one.
America’s national security establishment agrees that military force will not advance U.S. interests in the region. It would make things catastrophically worse. Advocates of military action posit that a “targeted” strike would send a message to Tehran. But retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, disagreed that military force could achieve that goal, saying in 2012 that an attack on Iran “would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon and that would build it in secret.”
A war with an unachievable objective is unwinnable. And a regional war with the potential for reprisals against U.S. servicemen and other assets would only result in a determined Iran, without inspectors or verifiable limits.
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