Looking ahead after the Iran deal
The nuclear deal with Iran looks especially useful when seen in the light of the July 15 front-page article “Accord follows 35 years of turbulent U.S.-Iran relations.” President Obama sent two military commanders in 2012 to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. If Israel had attacked, wouldn’t Iran have retaliated? And, with Israel under attack, would the United States have bombed Iran? Iran then could have attacked U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf, waged guerrilla war in the Middle East and ditched its 2013 presidential elections (which brought a moderate cleric to office).
In contrast, the Vienna deal protects Israel for at least a decade and gives Iran’s youth breathing space to alter the course of the revolution.
Sanford Gottlieb, Kensington The writer is former executive director of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.
In his July 16Washington Sketch column, “America the powerless,” Dana Milbank found surprising President Obama’s acknowledgment of limits to U.S. power and options.
How could we secure the release of U.S. citizens caught in Iran’s courts short of invading?
President Reagan was willing to wage a proxy war in Central America in defiance of Congress. Yet he wisely avoided an invasion of Lebanon in 1983 after militants killed 241 U.S. service members in an attack on our Marine barracks. President George H.W. Bush prudently stopped short of taking Baghdad after repelling Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. President Clinton pulled our punches against Serbia in response to Bosnia and Kosovo. President George W. Bush saw the need for diplomacy as a prelude to war with Iraq and sought U.N. cover. They understood limits to U.S. power and options — and that military action requires a compelling cause.
Even the most powerful nation cannot always get its way through force. Private and public pressure may help to free the three in Iran. The U.N.-backed nuclear accord with Tehran actually raises the chance that such diplomacy could work.
Christopher J. Hoh, Arlington