Cliff May has an outstanding piece arguing, correctly I think, that containment will not work with a nuclear Iran. It would be too costly to maintain, involve too many countries with conflicting interests, and require us to fight an endless series of small wars, with the very fractious internal political battles that we have already seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael Anton has analyzed the costs of containment at greater length here. And Bret Stephens does his usual thoughtful job in Commentary.
It’s grim news that geopolitical “experts” are thinking deeply about what to do after Iran gets the bomb, both because it means that they have already accepted the inevitability of Iran-with-nukes, and because they continue to skim over the basic facts about the world and the war in which we are so deeply engaged. The debate about Iran should not revolve around nukes, but about the war Iran is waging against us right now.
There is an amazing unwillingness to grant that American soldiers are being killed every day by Iranian proxies and by Iranian fighters (mostly from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force), mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those killers are trained in Iran, funded by Iran, armed by Iran, and provided intelligence from Iran. They do not need nukes to kill us, but the experts obsessively focus their attention on the nuclear question.
Why do they refuse to talk about the real war? Why do they focus their attention on a problem that does not (yet) exist, rather than a terrible problem that does exist? To put the matter as brutally as possible, why don’t they — and our leaders — care about evil people who kill Americans?
Yes, from time to time a military leader will stand up and tell the press or the Congress about the ongoing attacks against American military personnel from the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are very short-lived episodes. Neither our journalists nor our elected representatives demand to know more, because they really do not want to know more. If they knew more, if they added up all these episodes over many years they would have to recognize the pattern, that is to say, the war that is being waged against us.
Back when containment of the Soviet Empire was in vogue, we fought back when Soviet proxies attacked our friends and allies. We fought proxy wars from Latin America to Africa to Afghanistan. If there had been Soviet attacks against American military installations, we would have struck back. But Iran is different. We are not striking back.
This is not partisan criticism. Republican and Democratic presidents have refused to exercise our right of legitimate self-defense against Iran, and that is one very big reason why debate over Iran policy is invariably focused on the nuclear question. It is why we have become accomplices to evil.
it has to stop. We are in a real war and we have to find a way to win it.