Harm and pain?

I genuinely don’t want the burgeoning crisis over Iran’s nuclear development program to come to blows.  But when I read things like this:

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Iran warned the United States on Wednesday it would feel the “pain” if tough measures were imposed against the Islamic republic for its nuclear program by the U.N. Security Council.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei also said the United States should negotiate directly with Iran if talks reach the stage of focusing on security guarantees to Tehran in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program.

The end of Wednesday’s meeting of the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency set the path for Security Council action. ElBaradei said his staff would send his report on Iran’s nuclear program to the council by Thursday.

Under terms agreed to by the five permanent Security Council members, that would formally lead to the start of council deliberations. Those are meant to cajole Iran into cooperating with an IAEA probe seeking to banish fears Tehran may be seeking nuclear arms and persuade it to reimpose a freeze on uranium enrichment.


“The United States has the power to cause harm and pain,” said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a senior Iranian delegate to the IAEA. “But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll.”

my intuition is that, if we’re going to do anything whatsoever, we should do it immediately.  There is such a thing as a “spoiling attack”.

Joe Gandelman has more on the story.

5 comments… add one
  • Right you are, Dave. I have taken it on (unrequited) faith that the move into Iraq was in part to establish a front with which to deal with Iran. Unfortunately, that Iraq has been poorly managed makes action against the mullahs that much more difficult. Goes to show that wanting to believe in competent leadership doesn’t make it so.

  • As I’ve written before, Dan, if I had been convinced we were invading Iraq for strategic reasons of this sort, I would have supported it from the outset. We didn’t need to occupy Iraq to create a staging area for invading Iran: bases would have been enough.

    I think we’ve learned that Bush should be taken at his word. Democratizing Iraq is the linchpin of his policy now. He’s also said that an Iranian bomb will not be tolerated. We’ll have to accept that, too.

    Note also that few of our casualties are being sustained by attacks on our bases in Iraq (the suicide attack in Mosul was an exception to that and it was apparently a security lapse).

  • Yes, I have made the mistake of looking for reasons that have turned out to be my own. Further, the need for bases ties nicely into the Dubai Ports fight. I have seen reports that the UAE may not be so welcoming now to US bases there.

  • I agree that we should act, soon and forcefully, because there is not going to be an accommodation with Iran: they expect to win.

    But the reality is this: a very great number of Americans — ordinary people, opinion elites and politicians alike — believe that not acting will result in peace, or not acting will hurt Bush and not America, or that it is immoral to fight before being attacked or some other variant. It comes to this: no consensus can arise right now to take the US into a war with Iran when it’s relatively cheap. The likelihood is much greater that we will end with genocide — or genocides.

    I hope I’m wrong, and it’s possible that Bush will go regardless on some semi-plausible pretext, knowing he cannot be reelected anyway, but I fear that every day brings us a step closer to nuclear war (more likely from the Israelis than us).

  • I’ve already explored the reasons I don’t believe that Israel will attack Iran preemptively and I think they still hold true.

    While I agree with your assessment I continue to believe that the correct tactical action at this point (in the light of the Iranian threats) is a spoiling attack with the intention of taking out as much of Iran’s military capability as possible (along with the nuclear development facilities). I remain convinced that because of the placement of these facilities, low construction standards, and the lack of emergency services the loss of life in even the most carefully regulated attack will be appallingly high but, then, we didn’t place their nuclear development facilities in the suburbs of their largest cities or build their buildings so they’d fall down at the slightest temblor.

    The most politic course of action, however, would presumably be to ask for severe sanctions against Iran from the UNSC and get them (hah!). If I were king I’d also ask for a naval blockade of Iran to put teeth into the sanctions. I doubt that China and Russia will allow even mild sanctions and the likelihood of their being adhered to is essentially nil.

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