In an interesting parallel with politicians’ insistence that military options be kept “on the table” in dealing with Iran, the more hawkish Iran-policy hands (represented at today’s events by people from WINEP) appear to be taking a rhetoric approach that involves loudly agreeing with mainstream analysts that diplomacy is the way to go and then later slipping all kinds of war-oriented assertions into the mix. Michael Eisenstadt was really good at this, offering a presentation that emphasized diplomacy but, in fact, involved diplomacy aimed at conditions Iran will never accept. He praised David Ochmanek‘s restrained-but-convincing account of what would be problematic about coping with a nuclear Iran, but also added “tens or even hundreds of millions could die if Iran gets nuclear weapons and decides to use them.”
Similarly, US airstrikes would probably prompt a rally-round-the-flag effect in Teheran but, hey, “the Bolshevik revolution was brought on in part by the pressures of world war one.” The most notable thing, however, was the nature of Eisenstadt’s bottom-line objection to military options. Attacking Iran would, he said, greatly expand the scope of the war on terror. This, in turn, he said would be a bad idea primarily because there’s no political support for it in the United States, which would make it impossible to pull off effectively. That, clearly, is true, but it’s about the shallowest possible source of opposition to a proposed war.