Iran Bomb Talk: Jaw-Jaw, Not War-War
Blake Hounshell argues that the renewed speculation by some on the left that the United States is about to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is misplaced.
By rattling some sabers, but doing so in a deniable way, the Bush administration is trying to stiffen the spines of its European partners and the IAEA. The current goal is to pass new sanctions via the U.N. Security Council, not go to war. Remember, we saw a very similar pattern of leaks and official statements in the run up to the second round of sanctions that were passed in March. That drumbeat "worked" precisely because it sounded so plausible. But the Iranians aren't fooled. Expect them to keep thumbing their noses at everyone, while offering just enough cooperation with the IAEA to sow dissension among the Western powers.
That’s almost certainly right on all counts. Winston Churchill famously said that “To jaw-jaw always is better than to war-war” and the Iranian nuclear standoff is almost a classic case of that axiom. There are no good military alternatives here and all sides know it. Still, creating a bit of fear, uncertainty and doubt on that score can help create incentive on the diplomatic front and that’s almost certainly all that’s going on here.