It’s Time to Get Tough on Iran

The media has recently been rife with speculation about the possibility of a U.S. or Israeli preventive strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — from former CIA Director Michael Hayden’s observation last month that the drift toward military action against Iran appears “inexorable” to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen’s recent statement that the U.S. military has drawn up plans to attack the Islamic Republic. But, given recent developments in Iran, it is at least as likely that an increasingly belligerent Tehran will be the one that makes the move that sparks a conflict with the United States — whether by an act of terrorism, by facilitating insurgent attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan, or by a military provocation in the Gulf or elsewhere — unless Washington, acting with both caution and firmness, moves to avert such an eventuality.

There are a number of reasons that Iran, rather than the United States or Israel, may act first. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other senior officials have proclaimed on numerous occasions their belief that the United States is a declining power, that the international order that underpinned U.S. influence is crumbling, and that U.S. strength has been sapped by long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


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