Lex pointed out this recent essay, on Iran, by Walter Russel Mead.
The Bush administration, for its part, has treated Iran the way many of its critics wanted it to treat Iraq: It has supported a European Union initiative to resolve the nuclear issue in a peaceful way.
So there’s a widespread U.S. consensus to engage Iran in peaceful negotiations in partnership with Europe. This strategy has one small flaw: So far, it isn’t working.
Mead is more optimistic than I am about the possibility of defusing Iran without using force. I think we emboldened the mullahs by appeasing them, in our efforts to avoid having to open a new front in the war, and that confrontation is now inevitable unless we prepare seriously to attack. (And we should make our intentions clear; this enemy interprets subtlety and nuance as weakness.) Even then I think it may be too late to avoid confrontation.
We need also to consider that Israel has long considered a nuclear Iran to be one of the main threats, if not the main threat that it faces, and is at more immediate risk than we are. I don’t think Israel will stand by indefinitely if we are indecisive.
We may do better to force the situation. The mullahs are either bluffing, in which case we should call their bluff, or they are serious, in which case we should confront them on our own timetable rather than wait for them to get nukes and precipitate a crisis. Our current policy, consisting of a combination of appeasement and hoping that the Iranian government gets overthrown before we have to act, isn’t working.