On June 1st, 2002 President Bush addressed West Point Cadets and said,
The gravest danger to freedom lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology – when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends – and we will oppose them with all our power.[i]
Indeed, this ominous assessment and firm warning serves as the opening paragraph of the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy’s section on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Yet, in the case of Iran’s nuclear weapon development program, our efforts have been decidedly weak and misguided. The U.S. has failed to oppose Iran with all our power and, as a result, their nuclear development continues.
“Iran’s nuclear development may pose the most significant strategic threat to the United States during the next administration.”[ii] A nuclear Iran would severely threaten Middle East stability, the world’s oil supply and lead rapidly to a regional nuclear arms race as Saudi Arabia and others seek to counter the threat. For these and a variety of other reasons, the next administration needs to make Iran its top foreign policy priority. President Obama must make greater use of our informational, diplomatic and economic elements of power to convince Iran to reverse its course, while substantially downplaying the threat of unilateral use of military force. Success in doing so will increase the likelihood of peace in the Middle East and re-establish U.S. preeminence in world affairs.
The Time is Now
Reagan Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, “In the morning of an administration … friends and adversaries are alert and watchful. It is...