- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
These days, ask almost any policymaker, expert or analyst what can be done about Iran, and you will get one of three answers. Some believe that the optimal way to deal with the Iranian regime's increasingly evident hegemónic ambitions in the Middle East is to reach some sort of negotiated accomodation. Others say Iran's runaway nuclear ambitions constitute a casus belli that warrants the use of force. Still others believe the ascendance of a nuclear or nuclear-ready Iran represents a benign, even beneficial, turn of events, and that no action at all is needed.
None of these amount to a serious strategy. While it may reap short-term dividends for the United States, diplomatic engagement with the current regime in Tehran risks alienating Iran's young, pro-Western population-a vibrant constituency of some 50 million people aged 35 or younger that will ultimately determine the political disposition of that country. Military action is likewise deeply problematic, both because of the complexity of the strategic objective (neutralizing Iran's nuclear program) and because of the likely blowback such action will create from American allies and from Iranians themselves. Neither can Washington choose to simply do nothing, since our inaction will prompt a number of negative regional dynamics, ranging from a new arms race in the Middle East to the rise of a radical, anti-American Shi'a-dominated political order. Such is the sorry state of the policy debate over strategy toward the country that has emerged as the single greatest challenge to peace and stability in the greater Middle East, and to American interests there.
How did we get here? In truth, such policy confusion is not new. In many ways, it mirrors the political state of play regarding Iran that persisted throughout the mid- to late 1990s, when official Washington was divided between those who desired to modify the behavior of Iran's rulers, and those who sought a more fundamental transformation of the regime in Tehran. Back then, dreams of a reconciliation with the Islamic Republic led Washington to initiate a number of quiet overtures aimed at Tehran, only to be roundly rebuffed. Iran's ayatollahs, it turned out, had little interest in normalizing relations with their longtime adversary, even if officials in Washington did.
Fast forward nearly a decade, and little has changed. Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is undergoing a substantial attitude adjustment toward Iran. The Bush administration, which just one year ago proudly proclaimed its support for the desire for change visible among ordinary Iranians, is now drifting toward accomodation with their regime. Meanwhile Iran's leaders, sensing Americas weakness, have become increasingly bold, confrontational, and uncompromising in their worldview.
In other words, when it comes to Iran, America is suffering from an acute failure of imagination. And, without a serious strategy to confront Tehran, the potential consequences for the Middle East, and for the War on Terror, could be devastating. Already, Iran's advances have begun to alter the geopolitical balance of the Persian Gulf, much to the detriment of the United States and its Coalition allies. Iran's pervasive meddling in Iraq increasingly threatens to undermine U.S. efforts to create a stable, democratic order in the former Ba'athist state. Tehran's enduring support for international terrorism has increased the threat that radical groups such as Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda pose to the region, and to the West. And Iran's advances have already begun to reverberate throughout the region, threatening to dramatically reconfigure the politics of the greater Middle East-and to profoundly dampen future prospects for democracy there.
Now more than ever, policymakers in Washington need to think creatively about how to confront these trends. This book was written with that goal in mind, and the chapters that follow provide a number of political, economic and strategic building blocks of what would constitute a serious U.S. Iran strategy. They also offer a glimpse into the methods by which the United States can confront, contain and deter the Islamic Republic, and the impediments Washington will face in pursuing that goal.
The stakes are enormous. Without a serious plan to confront Iran, the United States in the near future will indeed be faced with just three choices: capitulation, confrontation or marginalization. For now, however, there is still time to prevent American interests in the Middle East from becoming the victim of Iran's successes. It is the sincere hope of the contributors to this volume that the U.S. government uses it wisely.
Excerpted from Taking on Tehran Copyright © 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. and the American Foreign Policy Council. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.