Opponents of military action against Iran assume a U.S. strike would be far more dangerous than simply letting Tehran build a bomb. Not so, argues this former Pentagon defense planner. With a carefully designed attack, Washington could mitigate the costs and spare the region and the world from an unacceptable threat.
Matthew Kroenig’s recent article in this magazine argued that a military strike against Iran would be “the least bad option” for stopping its nuclear program. But the war Kroenig calls for would be far messier than he predicts, and Washington still has better options available.
Bombing Iran's nuclear program would only be a temporary fix. Instead, the United States should plan a larger military operation that also aims to destabilize the regime and, in turn, resolves the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.
In an effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, Washington and the West have been ramping up the pressure with sanctions and threats of war. None of it will work. The Green Movement has been vanquished, and the country -- both its leadership and its people -- are poised not for revolution, but more of the same.
Two schools of thought dominate Iran's foreign policy-making; the first holds that Iran and the United States can reach a compromise through negotiations, the second that Washington is not a reliable partner. By pushing new sanctions and reneging on engagement, Washington has proved the second school right.
Brussels' newfound hawkishness will squander its influence with Tehran and its credibility with the rest of the international community. That will be bad for Europe and even worse for the chances of a peaceful resolution to the Iran impasse.
The conversation in Israel about an operation against Iran's nuclear program is centered on whether or not Jerusalem should strike, not on what might happen if it does. The lack of public debate about the "day after" may leave Israel unprepared both to attack and to defend itself.
On March 1 at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Foreign Affairs Managing Editor Jonathan Tepperman moderated a debate on the threats posed by Iran -- and how the United States should respond -- featuring authors Matthew Kroenig and Colin Kahl.