The Force Needed to Contain Iran

(Washington Post) James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh - The rationale for the Iranian nuclear program has changed over time. Today, as Iranian hawks consolidate their power and the Revolutionary Guards emerge as a key pillar of the state, Tehran views nuclear weapons as the means to regional preeminence. A nuclear shield would give Iran freedom to project its power in the Middle East. Such an Iran is unlikely to be subtle about brandishing the nuclear card. An emboldened Iran would test Washington in several ways. It would probably lend more support to Hizbullah and Hamas and encourage them to act more aggressively against Israel. It might step up subversive activities against the Gulf sheikdoms and demand that they evict U.S. troops from their territory. A nuclear Iran could also be tempted to transfer nuclear materials and technologies to other countries. Or give fissile material to a terrorist group. If Tehran remains determined to go nuclear and preventive attacks prove too risky or unworkable to carry out, the U.S. will need to formulate a strategy to contain Iran. In doing so, however, it would be a mistake to assume that containment would save the U.S. from the need to make tough choices about retaliation. If Washington is not prepared to back up a containment strategy with force, the damage created by Iran's going nuclear could become catastrophic. James M. Lindsay is senior vice president and Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2010-02-22 07:51:45

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive