Iran: Victor Davis Hanson on the case
The ever-perceptive Victor Davis Hanson's National Review column yesterday dealt with some issues discussed recently on this blog concerning Iran (hat tip: Soxblog).
He first sets up the seriousness of the Iranian situation, and then goes methodically down the list of possible responses.
Hanson sees four. The first is what he calls the "ostrich option," which he rejects without too much discussion. The second, worldwide diplomacy and strong sanctions, including support for an overthrow of the current government, is given a lengthy hearing. Hanson offers the following caveat: it is a long-term therapy and therefore suffers the obvious defect that Iran might become nuclear in the meantime (as discussed here yesterday in this comment and in others following).
The third option, unilateral action by Israel, Hanson analyzes and ultimately rejects for multiple strategic reasons. About the final possibility, Hanson writes:
The fourth scenario is as increasingly dreaded as it is apparently inevitable — a U.S. air strike. Most hope that it can be delayed...
He then goes on to analyze the possible consequences, including the PR fallout:
We remember the “quagmire” hysteria that followed week three in Afghanistan, and the sandstorm “pause” that prompted cries that we had lost Iraq. All that would be child’s play compared to an Iranian war, as retired generals and investigative reporters haggled every night on cable news over how many reactor sites were still left to go. So take for granted that we would be saturated by day four of the bombing with al Jazeera’s harangues, perhaps a downed and blindfolded pilot or two paraded on television, some gruesome footage of arms and legs in Tehran’s streets, and the usual Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer outtakes.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
Hanson is a realist, not a Utopian. He is not bloodthirsty (although I'm sure his critics consider him so). But he realizes that situations such as that of Iran today present us with a situation in which the options sometimes are all bad, and we must choose the best of a bad business--or the least crazy choice among several competing crazinesses. His article ends with these words:
Finally, the public must be warned that dealing with a nuclear Iran is not a matter of a good versus a bad choice, but between a very bad one now and something far, far worse to come.
In my opinion, that was also true of the war in Iraq--and no doubt, to some degree or other, of all wars.