Washington and Tehran have each hosted their own nuclear summits, back to back, giving just enough time between the summits to leaders of the participating countries to fly from one country to the other, amidst the drifting volcanic ash from Iceland, with the purpose of bringing under control what human societies can: the prospect of nuclear mushroom clouds.
The reported three page classified memo by Secretary Gates to President Obama’s National Security Advisor James Jones on Iran presumes that the United States must deal with Iran’s military nuclear aspirations, should they be ascertained, whatever the legal justification Iran may have to pursue those ambitions under international law.
It does not appear that the administration has exhausted all the diplomatic options and it is even true that Iranian diplomacy is on the wrong track.
Before any military options are considered it is necessary to change course on Iranian diplomacy, away from the proposed sanctions that were being advocated in the Washington nuclear summit, with the intent of achieving rapprochement with Iran, especially in light of Iran’s recent call for its own nuclear summit calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, a diplomatic high ground, in response to the recent Nuclear Posture Review. Until then any military action by any country would be premature, if not altogether reckless, because Iran poses no direct conventional military threat to the United States and any preemptive conventional military action against potential nuclear terrorism, albeit a tail risk, would be a poor strategic response. And so would arming Iran’s neighborhood in the region.
The United States must secure its ports of entry to safeguard the country against possible diffuse, unconventional nuclear terrorist attacks and secure its own stockpile of nuclear material domestically. The recent work plan to follow through on the Washington nuclear summit must be implemented in an expedited manner both in the United States and in the participant countries.
The Afghan war strategy must be reviewed to end the Taliban and to secure Pakistan, as Iraq returns to normalcy. The Department of State and the Pentagon must pursue a more aggressive strategy with North Korea to end the regime and unite the Koreas.
The White House must consider sending an envoy to Iran in the wake of Iran’s recently concluded nuclear summit. President Ahmadinejad’s policy stance upon the conclusion of the Tehran summit appears to have taken the line of the argument I had outlined recently in a blog article. Partisan, pre-election maneuvering on the issue of Iran by any political party to capitalize on the President’s low poll ratings is a mistake and any undue influences from the conservative wing of the Washington’s pro-Israeli lobby are counterproductive for the purposes of peacefully resolving the issue.
The Obama administration, as the Iranian president is quite correctly pointing out, must become an honest broker on nuclear matters in the Near East, given Israel’s long suspected nuclear program. I agree with President Obama’s recent position on the Middle East that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is paramount to bringing peace to the region.