Today, Tehran is possibly stirring a return of strategic thinking to American foreign policy, even if the lethargic Bush administration is unlikely to take up the challenge. But the reduction of the Iran question to “the bomb” and “chaos” misses the basic question that is implicit in the NIE report and Bush’s successor has to face regarding Iran: If the regionally ascendant Islamic Iran, with or without an actual bomb, is here to stay, would U.S. interests in the region be better served through a friendlier, even if not trouble free, relationship with it, or further antagonism that pushes Iran to act as a spoiler in the region and look for tactical and strategic alliances to the East to counter to American belligerence?Although the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions have rightly occupied most people's minds, and the neocons have been irresponsible saber-rattlers for the past seven years, I don't think the extent of the harm of Bush's belligerent foreign policy has been fully grasped. The "Iran problem" is, in some ways, manufactured by this belligerence. And, although the Bush presidency is mercifully drawing to a close, the belligerence continues unabated. We see it still at work in the recent Iran-US confrontation in the Persian Gulf and likely also in the developing policy towards Pakistan.
See also this interesting piece today by Helena Cobban.
The agility of the Iranian government's information capabilities has protected the US from what could well be an attempt by some moles deep within the Pentagon to jerk our country into a broad and extremely damaging military conflagration with Iran. Now-- as during that the worryingly similar Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964-- the US Congress needs to react....