Thursday, April 20, 2006
Neo-Conservative Realist on Iran?
What is most useful is that Gerecht's article is much more sober in assessing risks and costs. No "going to be greeted with sweets", no "we can foment ethnic rebellion against Tehran", no "Iran can be easily turned into a democracy", no "this is over in six months." He talks about years, he talks about real challenges, he talks about having to stay focused.
I would disagree with some of his assessments--but what makes the piece useful (and in marked contrast to some of the other Iran pieces that have appeared that make it seem that Iran would be so easy to solve, if only we applied the right level of will and force), it does take into account different scenarios and potential unintended consequences.
Gerecht abandons what Harvey Sicherman in Orbis last year described as the "hustle" in foreign policy--promising decisive action at low cost--and lays out strategy--what are our objectives, what are costs, what are consequences. Significantly, I read his piece and felt that a major point is that the purpose of U.S. action should primarily be to remove the nuclear threat. If democracy can be facilitated as a side benefit, fine; encourage it, great--but the focus is on removing a threat. This article seems to be much more focused on threat management than on taking, as its starting point, grand transformation.
This is the piece that should have appeared, by the way, in 2002, prior to Iraq. Perhaps we would have a lot less disillusionment and we could be having a more realistic discussion about Iraq.
Regardless of the nature of the government of the Iranian state, the best that can be achieved is a promise not to weaponize.
I understood Gerecht to be saying that Iran could be disarmed (and kept that way) at a low cost to the United States. He acknowledges some risks that would attend US military action but he discounts them as reasons not to strike.
Sometimes one has no choice about whether to go to war and this may be one of those times. And any discussion of hypothetical outcomes may not be useful. But I do think three questions at this stage deserve answers.
Is it reasonable to believe that we can wage war against Iran with the minimal effort that Gerecht believes we can? Is a war necessary, if diplomacy fails, even if the cost to the United States is higher? If so, should the American people be warned more explicitly and prepared for the prospect of war?
I agree that Gerecht discounts some of the risks and thinks things can be done "cheaper"--but at least he is thinking in those terms rather than pretending these consquences don't exist.
Let us bomb a country that is not seeking a war with us, that is not a threat to us, but is a prick, and kill thousands of people becuase, per chance, the resulting instability might be more beneficial to US.
Foreigners reading these type of statements are going to conclude one thing and one thing alone; "Make sure you have a significant nuclear capability to defend yourself."
I think a confrontation with Iran is practically inevitable but I certainly don't feel good about Bush being in charge when it happens - why do you think all these generals are complaining? It's not Iraq they're worried about, it's Iran.