The Bush Administration “kept the military option related to Iran on the table” and refused to rule out an attack against Iran. President Bush even once threatened to attack Iran to protect Israel.
Not so with President Obama, though. As an avowed pacifist, Obama -like his SECDEF, his USD(P) and his Secretary of State, believes that a policy of appeasement towards Iran, and the unilateral disarmament of the US (ordered by the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, Obama’s budget decisions and the START-3 Treaty) are the solutions to the Iranian nuclear program and that a bombing of Iran is not a solution. So his administration has explicitly ruled out any attack against Iran. Obama’s Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)), Michele Flournoy, said so.
“The US has ruled out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program any time soon, hoping instead negotiations and United Nations sanctions will prevent the Middle East nation from developing nuclear weapons, a top US defense department official said Wednesday.
“Military force is an option of last resort,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said during a press briefing in Singapore. “It’s off the table in the near term.””
According to the above source, Flournoy also said:
“Right now the focus is a combination of engagement and pressure in the form of sanctions.”
But then she said:
“We have not seen Iran engage productively in response.”
So neither a policy of “engagement” (read: a policy of appeasement) nor “pressure in the form of sanctions” have encouraged Iran to behave responsibily (“engage productively in response”, using Flournoy’s words), yet the Obama administration continues to pursue these flawed policies.
A policy of “engagement” (which is nothing more than an euphemism for appeasement) is always doomed to fail. The West’s enemies can never be benevolently, diplomatically convinced to change their aggressive policies or to stop endangering the West. They will never do so. This policy didn’t work with the Soviet Union, it didn’t work with North Korea, and it has spectacularly failed with Iran.
Sanctions will not work, either, though they’re based on a better assumption. Sanctions are supposed to be penalties for countries which behave irresponsibly or endanger the world. Theoretically, this is a good proposition, but there are 2 problems with it:
1) To force rogue states to behave responsibly, or at least reconsider their policies, you need very harsh sanctions. Only the UNSC can impose UN sanctions on any country. Russia and China (both of whom are veto-wielding members of the UNSC) will NEVER permit harsh sanctions against Iran or North Korea because a) they believe that anything that’s bad for the US is good for them; b) they have vested interests in Iran, which is a crucial buyer of Russian weapons and a key supplier of oil and NG for China.
2) Rogue states that are already almost-totally isolated on the world scene (like Iran and NK) cannot be convinced to change their policies by sanctions. Trying to use sanctions to induce them to give up their weapons of mass murder is like trying to force a Benedictine monk to forfeit money and girls.
The only way to eliminate the Iranian nuclear program is the military solution. It won’t be easy, but it’s the only solution.