James Forsyth

The Iran two-step

The Iran two-step
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Bob Kagan, one of the smartest foreign policy thinkers around, points out why Obama’s attempts to reach out to Iran are, from a hawkish perspective, sensible:

“So one of two things is going to happen: Either the friendly diplomatic approach works, and the Iranians actually cave and accept American and European demands, which would be good. Or the friendly approach doesn’t work, and the Iranians proceed on their present course, thus proving that even diplomacy sincerely pursued by a well-intentioned president has no impact on Tehran’s calculations. I honestly can’t see the harm in the Obama administration’s efforts. I hope they succeed.”

If we are ultimately forced to choose between Iran going nuclear and bombing Iran, I believe the latter option is the least worst. Iran going nuclear would spark a nuclear arms race across the Middle East and allow the country to step up its support for terrorism across the region. The West cannot accept the terrorism and proliferation risk that a nuclear Iran would pose. There is, obviously, also Iran’s repeated threats against Israel.

But before military action is taken, it is vital that other ways to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions are explored. I’m sceptical that any of them will succeed—if you were an Iranian policy maker, what short of a belief that you would be bombed would make you give up your nuclear programme?—but they must be tried.

My worry at the moment is that the Obama administration is taking too long about engaging in direct diplomacy with Tehran. The nuclear clock is ticking on.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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