Monday, January 22, 2007

Iran Needs More of Our Attention

Iran barred 38 nuclear inspectors from the IAEA today.

This headline was fifth in the online Washington Post today (the first to appear in small print). It followed Bush's latest poll numbers, an article on the Senate's opposition to the troop surge, the resignation of Bill Parcels, and a couple of other articles I could argue are only slightly less trivial.

This is absurd.

The potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran, its blatant disregard for key international institutions, and the hostile statements of its elected leaders, deserves more press coverage and more attention by the American public, as does the disintegrating situation in Afghanistan.

Iraq has dominated the headlines more often than not over the last 4 years for understandable reasons. But at this point, President Bush's options in Iraq are limited, for better or worse. This troop surge may be his last real card to play, and truth be told, it is not a big one. We have had similar surges before. The reason this one is getting so much press coverage is because of the opposition to it - not because it is a new tactic (much less a new strategy).

The biggest foreign policy decisions remaining in the Bush Presidency - and quite possibly, the biggest military decisions remaining - will be concerning Iran.

The press needs to start doing a better job informing the public on this emergent crisis. The consequences of ignoring it could be enormous. One could argue that the need for extreme action on this issue is not imminent, and they would be right. But, primarily because of Iraq, America's options to act unilaterally if required are severely limited. Airstrikes would still be possible in theory, but the consequences of such action without substantial genuine international endorsement would be extreme.

We need a real coalition to address this threat no matter what actions are required, whether they be diplomatic, economic or military. As we have seen over the last several years, international cooperation and meaningful action take months, if not years, to coalesce - if they ever do.

We have to focus, and soon.

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