Jeffrey Goldberg's article in the latest Atlantic, on whether Israel will (or should) attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, is the best article I've read on the subject--shrewd and balanced reporting combined with sophisticated analysis of the tangled strategic dilemmas.
Whatever you think should be done about the Iranian program to build an A-bomb ..., read his piece before thinking about it much more.
It takes an issue of enormous importance, a decision on which the history of our times could pivot, which has been on people's minds for ages--and through prodigious reporting and force of analysis makes everything that has been written on the subject up to now seem completely inadequate. I can't think of anything else quite like it.
Or to put it more delicately, is it meant to condition the American public and politicians to the prospect of an attack on Iran? Many people have portrayed it as such. I disagree. I think that those reading the piece as a case for bombing Iran are mainly reacting to arguments about the preceding war.
Jeff Goldberg was a big proponent of invading Iraq, as I was not -- and those who disagreed with him about that war have in many cases taken the leap of assuming he's making the case for another assault. I think this is mainly response to byline rather than argument. If this new article had appeared under the byline of someone known to have opposed the previous war and to be skeptical about the next one, I think the same material could be read in the opposite way -- as a cautionary revelation of what the Netanyahu government might be preparing to do. Taken line by line, the article hews to a strictly reportorial perspective: this is what the Israeli officials seem to think, this is how American officials might react, this is how Israeli officials might anticipate how the Americans might react, these are the Israeli voices of caution, here are the potential readings and mis-readings on each side.
The nuke nerds -- you know who you are, people -- have failed to contribute effectively to the Iran policy conversation. Too often, it seems, we're just talking to each another in our own special jargon of UF6, SWUs, SQs, LWR, NPT, NFU, BOG, NSG, and so on and so forth. Amid these minutiae, the larger debate has managed to bypass what I'd consider the hard-won insights that this community has produced on the Iran question over the last several years.
The point of this magazine, as I understand it, is airing real and honest debate about the great issues of our time. I think Jeffrey's piece is a classic example of what should be published under such a philosophy, and am proud that this magazine is pioneering the debate we need to have. We do not, moreover, believe in a collective line. We believe in open discourse. And there is no subject as grave as the one Jeffrey has grappled with or that this country will have to confront in the months and years ahead.