Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft fly in formation at the conclusion of Valiant Shield 2014.
U.S. Navy

In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. Iran denied the charges, but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran. Although the Obama administration has not publicly threatened to retaliate with military force, the allegations have underscored the real and growing risk that the two sides could go to war sometime soon—particularly over Iran’s advancing nuclear program.

For several years now, starting long before this episode, American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities. Proponents of a strike have argued that the only thing worse than military action against Iran would be an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics, meanwhile, have warned that such a raid would likely fail and, even if it succeeded,

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  • MATTHEW KROENIG is Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons. From July 2010 to July 2011, he was a Special Adviser in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, responsible for defense strategy and policy on Iran.
  • More By Matthew Kroenig