• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • End Game in Iran

    It is past the time that Washington will be able to find a means to resolve the confrontation with Iran that is “all gain, no pain.”

    And it should be clear that the fault for this lies clearly with the rulers in Tehran. They have become the single greatest obstacle to peace in the region and bringing freedom, peace, security, and prosperity to their own people. They have directed terrorist acts against other nations, including the Unites States. They have threatened to destroy other countries, including the U.S. They have put their own people at risk by bringing on themselves the enmity of other nations.

    On the other hand, for its part, no nation has done more to make the world safe for the Iranian people than the U.S. In the late 1980s, Iran was surrounded by enemies—the Soviet Union, Saddam Hussein, and the Taliban. No nation did more to bring about the downfall of these regimes than the U.S., and no outside nation has done more for the peoples of the Middle East. The U.S. restored the territory of Kuwait, deposed Saddam, and stopped a surge of violence in Iraq that saw the widespread slaughter of innocents.

    These are concrete statements of sacrifice made by Americans—to protect ourselves and our interest, for sure, but done in partnership with other nations in the hope of bringing liberty and prosperity to all.

    In short, make no mistake: The government of Iran is its own worst enemy.

    U.S. strategy toward Iran should begin by being unequivocal in recognizing Israel’s inherent right of self-defense. If the Israelis choose to act, they should know not only that the U.S. supports them but that the U.S. will help them defend against an Iranian attack. Furthermore, the U.S. should warn Iran that if it takes any action against the U.S., we will defend ourselves and take a strong and appropriate response. This unequivocal statement of support is the strongest possible deterrent against Iran acting against the U.S.

    At the same time, the U.S. should pursue an integrated package of political and economic measures to bring freedom to the people of Iran. What is needed is an Iranian government that sincerely does not desire nuclear weapons.

    There is a role for diplomacy—but not as an excuse for inaction, vague commitments, or the opportunity for Iran to play “rope-a-dope.” Simply arguing to “give diplomacy time to work” is no basis for a strategy at all.

    What is the proper role of diplomacy? Tehran should always be given the opportunity to dismantle its weapons programs and undertake an orderly transition of power to a peaceful and legitimate government. But to be clear, diplomacy is not the primary tool for resolving this crisis; it is a lifeline to the regime, offering them a way to mitigate the suffering and danger to the people of Iran. In short, to talk its way out of this situation, Tehran should take significant, dramatic, and verifiable steps before taking any reciprocal action.

    Any American strategy should also acknowledge that in any crisis, all sides get a vote and that Tehran will seek to mitigate the impact of sanctions while trying to run out the clock and become an established nuclear power—because then the clock starts over.

    In the end, Israel may not act or the regime may not fall before Iran becomes an established nuclear power. Then the U.S. will face a different set of circumstances. Both Republican and Democratic Presidents have stated that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. The U.S. has to have a robust military presence in Europe and the Middle East to act on that conviction.

    Some may believe that such a conviction might encourage Israel to simply “sit on its hands” and let the U.S. do it. Be that as it may, if Iran can threaten the U.S. by having nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them against the U.S. or its allies (and since the regime has threatened us), then we will be forced to act in self-defense. That response would be “strong and appropriate.”

    We reserve the right to make that decision once we are convinced that Iran is near the point of no return.

    Right now, the most important task is that the U.S. build up a range of robust military capabilities to deal with a variety of contingencies. (Conflicts never go as planned, and you can’t assume that a simple surgical strike will be the answer.) George Marshall said it best: “To preserve peace, prepare for war.”

    Finally, Iran might as a last measure attempt to check-mate the U.S. by obtaining assurance of protection from other armed nuclear powers. To deal with this and similar threats, the U.S. needs to adopt a protect-and-defend strategy—including both a robust nuclear deterrent and strong missile defenses.

    There are no easy answers—and while many Americans may be wary of confrontation, they should remember that liberty and freedom always carry with them the burden and obligations to protect them.

    A clash of arms is always the last course of action—but the best way to avoid conflict is to be clear-eyed and realistic about the challenges being confronted and leaving no doubt over the resolve to act in your own self-defense.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to End Game in Iran

    1. Stirling says:

      The western media has never actually understood the religious zellots that run Iran, and have actively tried to portray them (as they have Islam) as mainstream.. If Iran's regeim actually saw that we took the threat seriously they would of stoped long ago.. The time lost all these years has put us in a position of weakness rather then strength..

      In addition the PC (politically correct) poliece of this administration have also sanatized our society to weaken our ability to correctly identify and inform the public as to the situation we are actually in, and the consequences that we may face.

    2. Fred van Berkel says:

      I love Mr. Carafano"s writing. But "Si vis pacem,para belllum" from George Marshall?

    3. My Latin teacher was Mrs Graves, for real, they said she didnt teach Latin, she remembered it. I managed, as I recall, to get one of the lowest grades possible on the state-wide test. I came, I saw, I couldn't translate.

    4. Spin Palace says:

      Latin has many great sayings!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.