What is the intelligent dovish take on events in Iran? The liberal blogosphere isn’t talking, but the New York Times has come through. The Times interviews Lee Feinstein, of the Council on Foreign Relations. CFR, in this task force report chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, has made the best available case for striking a bargain with Iran. I think Brzezinski and company are wrong to believe that Iran will trade its nukes for positive incentives, and/or that we can achieve a stable detente with a nuclear Iran. But the CFR report makes an impressive case. So if you want the best dovish case, check it out. Given the stakes, what we really need now is a quality public debate on Iran.
Now that the Iranians are denying the Holocaust and defying the world on nukes, the dovish approach seems discredited. Yet Brzezinski et al. would likely argue that had we dropped our talk about regime change and offered a deal earlier, Iran would not have gone bad. I don’t buy it, but that is what the doves will likely say. As for our current dilemma, Lee Feinstein’s hope is that the Russians will broker an agreement in which they reprocess Iran’s nuclear fuel so as to keep any bomb grade material out of Iranian hands. This is more or less the arrangement Kerry advocated in 2004. I doubt that such a deal is achievable. Iran wants the bomb, and will stop at nothing to get it. But even if a deal should be possible, it’s only the threat of massive economic sanctions or a military strike that will achieve it.