Also, standing up to Iran might be a tonic to our cultural problem as well. The West as a whole needs to show the world that it can stand tough, stand together, and sacrifice. A united front on severe economic sanctions, even in the face of an oil price spike that could hurt us, may be just the tonic we need. In the wake of the cartoon business, we may finally be approaching a moment when the West is ready to unite and get tough. And again, if a sanctions movement falls apart, it will be difficult to argue against military action.
So maybe our best option is to get aggressive on all three fronts. Let’s start openly and actively supporting dissidents in Iran. Let’s quickly demand the harshest sort of economic sanctions. And let’s make it clear that failure of options one and two (or rapid progress toward a bomb, whether sanctions are “working” or not) would bring on a military strike.
We’ve got to tell the Europeans that their idea of narrowly targeted sanctions that cause little general pain in Iran is out. If they won’t go along, then they can’t complain if we strike. Only by quickly pushing Iran’s economy and regime to the breaking point do we have a chance of avoiding war. Only a willingness to risk our own comfortable economic situation for at least a limited time gives a hope of avoiding the more severe crisis of a major war. Of course, this sort of aggressive stance could provoke economic counter-measures by Iran that would quickly escalate the confrontation. But that may be exactly what we need.
All this is in the nature of thinking out loud. Read “3 Myths About the Iran Conflict” and see what you think.