What would a strike on Iran do for President Obama’s re-election chances? Improve them, I should think. At least it would be one inarguable accomplishment on which to run.
Leaving aside that remark, let us consider whether or not Iran is going to develop the bomb. The NYT is out with an advance on the next IAEA inspectors’ report, which will be published tomorrow, and it’s not good at all. Excerpt:
The new evidence came as no surprise to the Obama administration, which has possessed some of this intelligence for years. But its publication does pose the United States a new set of difficult choices. Years of sanctions have hurt Iran, but the report makes clear that those sanctions have not forced it to reconsider its program. Efforts to sabotage the Iranian effort have reached back a decade , most recently with a computer worm called “Stuxnet,” which appears to have been a joint covert action by Israel and the United States. It is not mentioned in the report, but experts say it slowed Iran’s enrichment of uranium. But production rates have since recovered.
To be clear, I think the only thing worse than Iran getting the bomb is what we’d have to do to destroy Iran’s bomb-making capabilities. Daniel quotes Richard Weitz:
Due to the configuration of the Iranian program, a surgical airstrike is no longer a viable option for stopping Iran’s nuclear progress. The only way to accomplish that would be for the United States to repeat the strategy it misapplied against Iraq in 2003: invade the country, establish a pliant government, and spend months if not years identifying and destroying all possible nuclear weapons sites. And Iran today is a much more powerful adversary than Iraq was in 2003.
There are no good options, and not even any merely bad options. I don’t think we should console ourselves with the idea that it might not be so bad if Tehran got the Bomb. But we shouldn’t console ourselves with the idea that starting a war to prevent that is a viable option at this point.