In dealing with Iran and its nuclear aspirations, the United States seems to have three options open to it:
1)Â Â Â Â Â Accept the inevitable and do nothing;
2)Â Â Â Â Â Open a dialog and negotiate a solution with the Iranian regime which will be satisfactory to all; or
3)Â Â Â Â Â Attack Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities.
Obviously, Option No. 2 would be the most desirable. A transparent Iranian nuclear program operating exclusively for domestic energy production and open to international inspection may not be an entirely unreasonable outcome for all interested parties. At any rate, with countries like Russia and China working feverishly behind the scenes to subvert United Nationsâ€™ resolutions by providing Iran with equipment and technical expertise, a nuclear Iran appears to be looming ever closer.
In dealing with the Iranians and their quest to become a nuclear power, then, which course of action has the United States chosen to pursue? Letâ€™s try to understand, by means of a careful examination of the statements of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the past year or two, U.S. policy vis-Ã -vis a nuclear Iran.
Yesterday, as reported on Fox and Friends, Clinton had some tough words for Iran. While meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, Clinton issued this stern warning to Iranâ€™s leaders:
The world will not wait forever for Iran to come clean about its nuclear program.
Reading between the lines, there appears to be an implied threat contained within that statement, which is entirely consistent with the following comment that Clinton made when she was a candidate for president back in 2008:
I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iranâ€¦ In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.
Clearly, then, the Iranians had better watch their step, as Clinton is a firm believer in Option No. 3 above, which is a military attack on Iran.
Or is she?
In April of this year, Clinton said this:
We actually believe that by following the diplomatic path we are on, we gain credibility and influence with a number of nations who would have to participate in order to make the sanctions regime as tight and as crippling as we would want it to be.
Hold on there.
The â€œdiplomatic pathâ€ implies Option No. 2 above. Did she really mean to say that? She did, as later that month she was proud of the fact that:
After years during which the United States basically sat on the sidelines (Option No. 1), we are now a full partner in international talks with Iran.
That clarifies it then. Talks were the answer in April. No threat of a military strike. This was a definite shift towards Option No. 2, the diplomatic solution, with no mention being made of any military option.
Just a week later, though, she appeared to be wavering:
We are deploying new approaches to the threat posed by Iran, and weâ€™re doing so with our eyes wide open and with no illusions.
Sounds like now things could go either way. The Iranians must have been tough negotiators.
July, 2009, and the rhetoric from Ms. Clinton heats up:
We are going to do everything we can to prevent you (Iran) from getting a nuclear weapon. Your pursuit is futile.
Clinton is, once again, sounding like a hawk. She has now returned to backing Option No. 3–the military strike.
Donâ€™t fire those missiles yet, because sheâ€™s soon in the mood for talking again:
The President and I believe that refusing to talk to countries rarely punishes them. And as long as engagement might advance our interests and our values, it is unwise to take it off the table. Negotiations can provide insight into regimes’ calculations and the possibility — even if it seems remote — that a regime will, eventually, alter its behavior in exchange for the benefits of acceptance into the international community.
Back to Option No. 2, engaging the Iranians in a meaningful debate. Clinton’s position is clear. By mid-July, we are firmly on the side of negotiations.
Well, for a week or so, anyway. Thatâ€™s how long it took her to issue the following statement, where she now concedes the inevitability of Option No. 1, and discusses a post-Option No. 1 response:
We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those [allies] in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer.
In other words, the United States may extend a “defense umbrella” over friendly nations in the Middle East after Iran has developed a nuclear weapon.
Is that it then? Is the policy of the administration to be one of resignation to the inevitability of Option No. 1?
It was in July, at any rate. But by early September, she is firmly backing Option No. 2, diplomacy:
We have made clear our desire to resolve issues with Iran diplomatically. Iran must now decide whether to join us in this effort. We remain ready to engage with Iran, not as an end in itself, but as a means of addressing the growing concerns that we and our partners have about Iran’s actions, especially on the nuclear issue.
Iranâ€™s response to Clintonâ€™s overtures must not have been positive, as it now appears from Clinton’s London statement on Sunday that we are back to option No. 3, the military one:
Words are not enough. The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is willing to live up to its international commitments. We’re going to move forwardâ€¦on the consequence side of the ledger.
There you have it. A complete accounting of the path the United States has decided to undertake in responding to Iranâ€™s nuclear aspirations. In case you werenâ€™t able to follow the thread, here is a brief synopsis:
According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the policy of the United States as it relates to Iran’s nuclear program isâ€¦