Nobody (except Ahmadinejad or Khamenei) is very thrilled about the possibility of Iran as a nuclear power. That is one of the few foreign policy positions on which Americans of all political persuasions can agree. Like every other policy position (foreign or domestic) the agreement ends very quickly. Many on the right are convinced that saber rattling should be our first course of action (Bush was doing that long before the revelation of this new nuclear facility) and that threats of sanctions should be no more than a formality before we start planning for war. The majority on the left seem content to exercise the options of public condemnation, international sanctions, and diplomatic pressure with endless patience for anything short of a physical attack against our nation.
What neither side seems willing to discuss is what history tells us about the value of military intervention, when it is and isn’t desirable, and the appropriate interaction between military power and diplomacy. Although we should be supportive of having a robust military let us review why the approach by the left is closer to correct on this issue.
Anyone with a healthy respect for the ugliness of war would hope that all the saber rattling would very rarely escalate to military action. Unfortunately the more we use the tactic of threatening a military response to the actions of other nations the greater the probability that those nations will choose to test our resolve leaving us with two possibilities. First, we can decide that military action is unwarranted which soon makes us look like the boy who cried wolf and our rhetoric becomes useless until we have backed up our bluster a few times by engaging in military action. Second, we can put our money where our mouth is and send in the military. If we use our military too often we will make enemies out of otherwise neutral countries and even our allies will become wary of us.
The proper course is to be very careful about when we make threats of military intervention – never rattling the saber unless we are willing to draw the sword. We must also be careful not to waste our strength in fighting so many distant threats that we leave ourselves unprepared if we should ever face a truly imminent threat.
Iran is a distant threat at best and we should take our hand off our sword hilt.
I make my living as a software engineer but I identify more with my roles as a father and as a concerned citizen. I love to get my perspective out where others can read and respond and I have been doing it for years. I love getting comments because it helps refine my thinking. I have been known in rare cases to change my position on some issues as I became more familiar with them through those interactions. I should win because my biggest obstacle to making a contribution to our country is not having access to a substantial audience.