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Sanctions Cannot Stop Iran’s March Toward Bomb

An piece in today’s Washington Post from analyst (and old WRM colleague) Ray Takeyh brings important if unwelcome news: sanctions have failed to stop Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons.  Sooner rather than later, the US will face the choice it has spend ten years trying to avoid: the choice between a war with Iran or an Iran with a bomb.

Foreign policy demands three skills: one is the ability to avoid hard choices as long as possible.  The second is the ability to make and to execute the hard choices wisely and well when the right moment comes.  The third is the ability to know when that right moment has come.

So far, the Obama administration has been pushing sanctions and negotiations, hoping for the best and trying to postpone.  I support them on this, but if Takeyh is right, that phase of our relationship with Iran is drawing to a close.

Stay tuned.

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  • A

    Why are hard choices to be postponed?

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Because sometimes if you postpone hard choices you can avoid them altogether. The essence of a hard choice is that it is a choice among undesirable elements. If there is reasonable hope that patience and delay might give you some better alternatives, waiting can be the best choice. There is no sign that the US would have been better off if we had gotten into World War I in 1914 rather than waiting until 1917. A great British prime minister once spoke about ‘masterly inactivity’. But there will come a time when waiting only makes both alternatives worse. Figuring out where in the cycle you are and making the best available choice is what national leaders are supposed to do.

  • A

    So only hindsight tells us whether inactivity is masterly?

    • Walter Russell Mead

      That’s generally true about everything: we’ll understand it better by and by.

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