Advantage: Ahmadinejad


My take on the just-concluded release of the British sailors taken hostage by Tehran. Money quote:

If this incident had escalated to a casus belli and seizure of another country’s military personnel is a classic departure point for hostilities if ever there was one then the United States, to put it bluntly, is not ready for conflict.

It is not at all clear whether bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would actually do real damage to the nuclear potential of the country or whether it wouldn’t actually strengthen the elements of the Tehran regime we need to weaken. Moreover, if Tehran decided to ally with Shi’ite militias in waging war on American forces in Iraq, then Bush’s entire surge strategy would be swiftly overwhelmed by new, chaotic, sectarian violence.

It’s also not clear what would happen to the American body politic if the United States had used this moment to launch an attack on Iran. My bet is that the country would hurtle towards a constitutional crisis, with Congress coming close to a veto-proof majority against a commander-in-chief at a time of war. The damage this would do to America internally and in the world at large would be immense.

No sane person in the White House and one hopes there are a few left would take such a gamble. The plain, unfortunate truth is, then, that in this moment in time, the West had no real choice but to deal and put the best possible face on it.

(Photo: Georges Gobet/Getty.)