By Lt. General Robert Gard, Jr. (USA, Ret.)
This week, Iran’s recently elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani will stand before the UN General Assembly and reaffirm for the world Iran’s renewed commitment to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff. The Obama administration should use this opportunity to test Tehran’s flexibility to agree to a negotiated solution on its nuclear program, one that has the potential to advance America’s national security interests in the broader Middle East.
Rouhani’s speech comes at a time when Iran has sent increasingly positive signals toward the United States and the West, released political prisoners, limited advances in its nuclear program and made statements at the highest levels of government that indicate willingness to make a deal.
Some have quickly dismissed these signals from Tehran, arguing for a more forceful approach. This small but noisy chorus in Washington has squawked about the use of military force as an effective — even desirable — means to end Iran’s nuclear program. Among them, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) recently announced he’ll pursue an authorization to use military force against Iran.
There is and always has been a consistent, decided maxim of conflict: war is a means to a political end, not an end in and of itself. This lesson of history is often lost in partisan Washington political squabbles and it’s an important one to reflect on when dealing with Iran.
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