Look­ing ahead af­ter the Iran deal

The Washington Post Sunday - - OPINION SUNDAY -

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

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