Robert Satloff finds in the killing of Osama Bin Laden a clue about the Obama Administration's approach to the overarching problem of the Middle East, which is to say, Iran's nuclear program:
In recent days, the administration has drawn a link between Abbottabad and other aspects of its Middle East policy. For example, in a May 12 keynote address to The Washington Institute, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon drew a direct connection between the dogged, persistent pursuit of bin Laden and the administration's long-term commitment to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability: "The quiet and determined pursuit of bin Laden is not the only example of how President Obama matches his words with action. This is also the case with respect to Iran. President Obama has long understood the regional and international consequences of Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state. That is why we are committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.' Donilon's tagline was bold and confident: "We do what we say we will do."
I e-mailed Satloff to ask if he thought Donilon was suggesting something fairly direct -- that Obama has committed himself to stopping Iran's nuclear program by force if he can't stop it through sanctions and diplomacy. Satloff wrote back: "Donilon reaffirmed, with reference to Abbottabad, the idea that the Administration is committed to preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. I think he was signaling a range of possibilities -- we will be persistent, we will be stealthy, we will use a range of options, we may even employ risky means that could blow up in our face is things don't work out. But we are committed."