Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Harm Test

Last weekend, Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post comes to the realization that "none of the steps the West is considering to stop the Iranian nuclear program is likely to work." Instead, the U.S. should develop a strategy of containment, much like we used in the Cold War against the U.S.S.R. Diehl also contends our best hope "lies in a victory by the Iranian opposition over the current regime."

Here's my failed letter to the editor in response:

To the editor:

In his article “The Coming Failure on Iran,” Jackson Diehl cites Middle East scholar Kenneth Pollack in support of a containment strategy that aims for an eventual “victory by the Iranian opposition.” During a recent event on Capitol Hill moderated by Diehl, Pollack also asserted the great challenge will be deciphering how the U.S. can help the Iranian opposition without splitting and discrediting the movement.

Considering the current hawkish political environment in Washington, I think the inverse formulation is far more pressing: what policies should the U.S. avoid or else risk damaging the opposition? Every action and policy under consideration, including political engagement, negotiations, sanctions, military strikes and containment, should first pass a Hippocratic “no-harm” test.

Given the low probability that the intransigent Iranian regime will budge from its nuclear position and the difficulty in providing useful assistance to the opposition movement, everyone in Washington should take a deep breath. Only then, let us carefully weigh all the options with the welfare of the Green Movement in mind. After all, they are our best and likely only hope.


Jason Stern

Out of interest, here is the letter that was actually published.

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