Filling in the Missing Words on Iran?

by Patrick Brennan

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, had some fairly strong words about Iran on an Israeli military radio station yesterday. Reuters reports:

“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro said.

But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available — not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.

This statement is especially interesting in light of Elliott Abrams’s searing piece on NRO last week about the Obama administration’s limp rhetoric on Iran. His rhetoric about the possible use of force has not risen to the effective level of Jimmy Carter’s statements about Iranian threats to control the Persian Gulf (Carter: “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force”). Abrams pointed out that, by contrast, Obama’s most aggressive statements have heretofore been non-specific and not credible — for instance, his statement that “the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon” isn’t specific or, strictly speaking, true (the U.S. would not use nuclear weapons to prevent it).

It isn’t easy to parse the meaning of diplomatic threats, but this statement seems like a more effective and credible statement to Iran of U.S. intentions, and should therefore be lauded — though it’s still notable that the threat was prefaced by a plea for diplomacy, and delivered by a surrogate, not the president himself.

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