It is surprising that Charles Krauthammer in his column on Friday ignores both the recent history in the Middle East and the culture there in claiming that our current policy is more likely to lead to war. (“Iran policy in shambles; Israel on own.”)
Just over a decade ago we drew redlines and set deadlines for Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors to see what nuclear and chemical programs that Iraq might have. As it turns out the stockpile of weaponry didn’t even exist in any significant or usable quantities. Yet Saddam refused to let the UN in to examine the evidence, even though only a dozen years before he had seen what the U.S. and its allies were capable of. Nonetheless Saddam was willing to engage in a war he had no hope of winning, rather than be seen by his people and the surrounding nations as weak.
Now we see Iran resisting the U.S. and their allies with a remarkably similar stance, and Krauthammer thinks that all we need to do is ratchet up the threat level to make Iran cave? It didn’t work in Iraq in 2003, and it’s not likely to work any better in Iran now. He thinks the current policy makes the U.S. seem weak and passive, but then the next logical step according to this column is an armed response.
It is true that diplomacy and sanctions have not produced the desired results. And it is also true that an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons is a frightening scenario for both Israel and the rest of the world. But given the likelihood that Iran may be willing to go to war over this makes it foolish to push them to it. The policy Krauthammer suggests, which is the policy we had with Saddam Hussein, of threatening consequences and then following through with them will most surely lead to war. I am glad that this president, unlike the last, is not eager for it.