A very disappointing essay from Richard N. Haass (former director of policy planning at the US State Department, current president of the Council on Foreign Relations), via Lebanon's Daily Star. He purports to draw policy lessons from the Gulf/Desert Storm war of 20 years ago as they relate to Iran's nuclear program. Basically, says he, sanctions weren't enough to force Saddam out of Kuwait, so military force was necessary. Ergo, as sanctions may not be enough to force Iran to open up its nuclear program, or to get Iranians themselves to remove the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime, military force may be necessary to prevent what Haass views as unacceptable: an Iran with nuclear weapons. Says he:
But not acting – in effect accepting Iran’s nuclear might – risks bringing about a more dangerous and possibly costlier future. As a result, it is Iran, even more than Iraq or Afghanistan, where the lessons of the Gulf war are likely to be debated and, ultimately, applied.
Haass is supposed to be one of the more reasonable, moderate realists in the foreign policy mainstream establishment, so it's especially disappointing that he would provide ammunition for the John Boltons and Benjamin Netanyahus (screaming super-hawks) of the planet. Haass conveniently omits mention of the fact that, even if the IAEA inspectors aren't getting as much access as they'd like, there is still no - I repeat, no - evidence that Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons. To be threatening military action (with concomitant "collateral damage") over something that Iran might do does not serve any useful purpose other than to make the Iranian regime feel more threatened than they already do, and perhaps more determined to develop the capability of quickly assembling a nuclear deterrent.