Bombing Iran

by Patrick Appel

Joe Klein reports that it is actively being considered:

One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran's Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it...It is also possible that this low-key saber-rattling is simply a message the U.S. is trying to send the Iranians: it's time to deal. There have been rumblings from Tehran about resuming negotiations, although the regime has very little credibility right now. The assumption shared even by some of Iran's former friends, like the Russians is that any Iranian offer to talk is really an offer to stall. A specific, plausible Iranian concession may be needed to get the process back on track. But it is also possible that the saber-rattling is not a bluff, that the U.S. really won't tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to do something awful to stop it.

I'm reading a review copy of Hooman Majd's forthcoming book on the Iranian elections and on Iranian-American relations. Regardless what you happen to to think of Majd's political analysis (I happen to mostly agree with it), he has the most detailed and gripping reporting of the Iranian elections to date. I'll likely have more to say on the book when its release date nears, but for now I'll note that Majd convincingly argues that saber-rattling will not bring Iranians around. There was a brief moment at the beginning of the Iraq war when Iran thought the US might actually invade, and threats of military action might have won concessions at that point, but now that we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan those threats are mostly toothless and the Iranians know it.

Iran is a proud country with an ancient history; trying to bend it to America's will through force alone is unlikely to succeed. It sees itself as an equal, as a superpower – or at least a regional superpower – in the making. However far-fetched that may seem to Americans, treating the nation like a donkey, to be controlled with carrots and sticks, is insulting to many Iranians and politically strengthens anti-American forces inside the Iranian government.

Negotiations have suffered from tone-deafness on both sides. I encourage the White House to get a copy of Majd's book. And for Dish readers to pre-order it.