Highlights from Christopher Hemmer’s article “Responding to a Nuclear Iranï¿½? in the US Army War College Quarterly “Parametersï¿½?, Autumn 2007, pp. 42-53, bring American talent for realistic intelligence in strategy to light. Despite Iran declaring the CIA and US Army “terrorists”, the USAF Air War College’s own Christopher Hemmer show just how pragmatic the United States can be when addressing national defense in the face of Iran-US anti-diplomacy.
There may be more to it than beating their national soccer team in the next world cup.
“The current debate regarding US policy toward Iran revolves around the relative merits of a preventive military strike, including the possibility of seeking regime change in Tehran, versus a policy that focuses on diplomacy and economic sanctions to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear bomb. This debate, however, risks prematurely foreclosing discussions regarding a wide-range of foreign policy options should diplomacy and sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to limit its nuclear ambitions.ï¿½?
“Any attempt to disarm Iran through the use of military options would
in all likelihood damage America’s interests in the region.ï¿½?
“First, any military action against Iran would send seismic shocks
through global energy markets at a time when the price of oil is already at record
highs. Since Iran relies heavily on the income derived from oil exports,
it is unlikely that it would withhold petroleum from global markets. Iran
may, however, threaten to disrupt the flow of traffic through the Strait of
Hormuz or sponsor attacks on key oil infrastructure on the territory of
America’s Gulf allies. Such actions could hurt the US economy and potentially
bolster Iranian revenue by raising the price of oil. While it is true that
the world market would eventually adjust to such actions, as James Fallows
has noted, that is a bit like saying eventually the US stock market adjusted to
the Great Depression.ï¿½?
“The reason a policy advocating regime change is a bad idea, given its
potential benefits, is the fact that such a policy is beyond America’s means.
While the United States certainly possesses the capability to eliminate the regime
in Tehran, as the invasion of Iraq” and previous experience in the 50s,” has shown, eliminating the present
leadership is the easy part of regime change. The more difficult and costly
challenge is installing a new government “and sustaining it”. With America’s resources already
overly committed in Afghanistan and Iraq, taking on a new nation-building
mission in a country far larger and in some ways far more nationalistic than
Iraq would be the epitome of strategic overreach.ï¿½?
“A Better Policy: Deter, Contain, and Engage
Fortunately, US policy options for dealing with a nuclear Iran are not
limited to preventive military strikes, regime change, or doing nothing. A
more promising option would have four key components. First, deter Iran
from ever using its nuclear weapons. Second, prevent Iran from using its nuclear
status to increase its influence in the region. Third, engage Iran in a
meaningful way that encourages the creation of a government friendly to the
United States and its regional allies, one that does not sponsor terrorism.
Finally, such a policy should reassure US allies in the region that America’s
commitment to their security is steadfast. This four-pronged strategy would
do a better job of protecting American interests in the region than any military
strike or forcible regime change.ï¿½?
“Iranian nuclear ambitions can best be deterred by means of an intelligent long-range
foreign policy, not the threat of military intervention.ï¿½?