Hurt Iran's Hawks

(New York Times) Abraham D. Sofaer - The U.S. must do more than keep the nuclear talks going; at the same time, it must push back against the Revolutionary Guards, the force within Iran that most wants to militarize its nuclear program. The last time the U.S. reacted forcefully to the Guards' aggression was in 1987. When the Guards began mining the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy boarded and sank one of its mining vessels and destroyed several of its speedboats and oil platforms. Our attacks deterred the Revolutionary Guards Corps; it has never again tried to mine the gulf. More significantly for today, our hard response didn't diminish Iranian diplomats' desires to negotiate. Each time the U.S. has used force in the Middle East - in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq - Iran has sought to be more, not less, engaged diplomatically. We have to respond to the Guards in such a way that Mr. Rouhani and his team can argue convincingly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that the force's aggression invites only more trouble, while a nuclear deal holds the key to improving Iran's future. For example, America could assist Syria's moderate rebels; interdict the Guards' shipments of weapons to Lebanon, Syria and Afghanistan; and block activity by the Guards in Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. Punishing the Iranians most culpable for the country's violence and terror, while negotiating effectively with its most pragmatic representatives, would strengthen President Rouhani's position in Iran, weaken those who want a nuclear military program, and increase the likelihood of a sound nuclear agreement. The writer, who served as legal adviser to the State Department from 1985 to 1990, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

2014-02-27 00:00:00

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