According to the aptly-named AP writer Nedra Pickler, the White House is trying to “dampen the idea of a U.S. military strike on Iran”:
Dan Bartlett, counselor to Bush, cautioned against reading too much into administration planning.
“The president’s priority is to find a diplomatic solution to a problem the entire world recognizes,” Bartlett told The Associated Press on Sunday. “And those who are drawing broad, definitive conclusions based on normal defense and intelligence planning, are ill-informed and are not knowledgeable of the administration’s thinking on Iran.”
I certainly have no idea of “the administration’s thinking” but let me ask a simple, almost a simple-minded, question. What would a “diplomatic solution” to the Iranian nuclear question actually look like? Just give me a few concrete sentences… Not easy, is it? Not for anything tangible anyway. Even if we got the Iranians to sign something, what would it mean? Hardly any countries acknowledge their nuclear weapons programs while engaged in initiating them. The US didn’t in 1944. The Soviets didn’t. The UK and the French didn’t. The Israelis didn’t. The Pakistanis and the Indians didn’t. What they said they were doing and what they were doing were rarely the same thing. And we expect the Iranian Mullahs, of all people, to behave differently? You’d have to throw in the Golden Gate with the Verrazano Narrows and the Brooklyn Bridge, if you wanted to sell me that one. Who knows what the Iranians are really doing? In order to know, we’d have to have a watcher, or maybe three, on every street corner of their vast country. And even then I’m not sure we’d know. Remember, back in the days of the Manhattan Project, Enrico Fermi and his colleagues split the atom in some made-over squash court under the University of Chicago football stadium. Its worth reviewing those times while recalling that was the early 1940s, over sixty years ago! So when we have the following from our British cousins in the same AP article, I can only roll my eyes:
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., said Britain would not launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran and he was as “certain as he could be” that neither would the U.S. He said he has a high suspicion that Iran is developing a civil nuclear capability which in turn could be used for nuclear weapons, but there is “no smoking gun” to prove it and justify military action.
What to do is not an easy question. But I wonder if, when you’re in 2006 and you’re talking about a 1944 technology, whether a “smoking gun” is anymore than a facon de parler.