From Eliot Cohen:
Unless you are a connoisseur of small pictures of bearded, brooding fanatical clerics there is not much reason to collect Iranian currency. But I kept one bill on my desk at the State Department because of its watermark—an atom superimposed on the part of that country that harbors the Natanz nuclear site. Only the terminally innocent should have been surprised to learn that there is at least one other covert site, whose only purpose could be the production of highly enriched uranium for atom bombs.
Pressure, be it gentle or severe, will not erase that nuclear program. The choices are now what they ever were: an American or an Israeli strike, which would probably cause a substantial war, or living in a world with Iranian nuclear weapons, which may also result in war, perhaps nuclear, over a longer period of time.
Understandably, the U.S. government has hoped for a middle course of sanctions, negotiations and bargaining that would remove the problem without the ugly consequences. This is self-delusion. Yes, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy stood side by side with President Barack Obama in Pittsburgh and talked sternly about lines in the sand; and yes, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev hinted that some kind of sanctions might, conceivably, be needed. They said the same things to, and with, President George W. Bush.
That’s right, the much-maligned diplomat George W. Bush was part of a diplomatic effort, continued by Barack "Change" Obama, to get Iran to abandon the nuclear weapons program that they’ve denied but that the world knows they’re gearing up. The talk and the Sternly Worded Letters(tm) from the United Nations have bought Iran the time they needed and brought us to the brink of either war on Iran or war from Iran.
Rock, meet hard place.
Cohen goes on to say that, at this point, it’s really too late and too difficult to remove the threat via a tactical strike, as Israel did in 1981, and an all-out war with Iran is a difficult proposition, because of the consequences to oil production, a potentially expanded war in the region, and because the Obama administration can’t even sell Afghanistan as "the good war" anymore.
His suggestion is the kind of "meddling" that Democrats have shown distaste for in the past but which we’re left with after all the talking has proved fruitless; overthrowing the regime through something other than overt war. The alternative is living with a nuclear Iran, and if you think they’re bothersome now, what with financing terrorism in the region, just wait until they have a missile with a nuke on top and no one dare cross them.
At least we won’t have a nuclear Iraq with a regime also bent on terrorism. You can thank Dubya for that, and reserve your thanks from the UN. Over a decade of what passes for diplomacy and negotiation got us precisely nowhere. History is repeating itself.