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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time to draw some lines in the sand?

Jamie Fly and Matthew Kroenig argue that it's time for the Obama administration to draw some red lines and to inform Iran that any crossing of those red lines will lead to instant military action.
Iran has repeatedly crossed what should have been bright red lines for the international community. But instead of taking tough measures to stop them, the world simply watched, responding with bluster not backed up by serious repercussions. If the regime crosses another red line in the future, such as enriching beyond 20 percent, will we stand by once again?

The Obama administration has articulated only one bright red line: building nuclear weapons. But if we wait until Iran turns the final screws on a nuclear device, we probably will be too late. The administration’s pledge to use force if necessary also rings hollow if Iran is allowed to make significant progress in all the other areas required for a weapon.

The United States can strike Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from making weapons-grade uranium, but once it has the fissile material, the game is over. At that point, our options would be reduced to either beginning an operation to topple the regime — which would most likely require ground forces — or simply praying that Tehran doesn’t weaponize. Neither is attractive.

A more reasonable set of red lines would include advances that would greatly shrink Iran’s dash time to a bomb, such as building additional covert facilities, installing advanced centrifuges at Natanz or Qom, maintaining larger stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, enriching beyond 20 percent, kicking out international inspectors, or conducting certain weaponization-related research.

Clearly articulating the red lines that Iran cannot cross would place the last clear chance to avoid a confrontation squarely on its shoulders. If Iran is willing to put hard ceilings on all aspects of its nuclear program, it can avoid a near-term conflict, but if it pushes forward, it will invite a strike that will be much more painful for itself than it is for the United States. After all, Washington has a spectrum of viable military options, including a limited strike against a few key nuclear facilities, as well as a broader bombing campaign that could destroy the Iranian military and destabilize the regime. The response could be commensurate to the seriousness of Iran’s transgressions.

This proactive approach should help calm nerves in the region about Obama’s mettle, and could forestall Israel from taking matters into its own hands.
Right.... There's just one small problem.... Would you believe a threat coming from Obama would be carried out (unless it was a threat against the Jews)? I wouldn't. And I doubt Ahmadinejad or Khameni would believe such a threat either.

What could go wrong?

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