In Foreign Policy, PPI President Will Marshall explains how President Obama is needlessly increasing the risks of a ruinous war by ruling out the possibility of deterring a nuclear Iran.
U.S. President Barack Obama, under pressure from Israel and American conservatives to take a harder line on Iran, keeps insisting that “all options are on the table.” That’s a diplomatic way of saying that the United States is willing to use force to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
To buttress this thinly veiled threat, however, Obama recently took one important option off the table: deterrence. In an interview with the Atlantic, he ruled out “containing” a nuclear Iran in the same way the United States has contained other unfriendly nuclear powers — by threatening the country with massive retaliation if it attacks us or our allies.
This is a significant — and needless — change in U.S. foreign policy. It raises the likelihood of war with Iran, despite Obama’s preference for a diplomatic solution. And launching air strikes on Tehran’s nuclear facilities would undercut America’s ability to play the long game in Iran by abetting a “Persian Spring” that could eventually topple the Islamic Republic.