So saith Persian Puzzle.
Now, it's more like there are two awful choices - and we gotta pick one.
War - or - Containment?
Tehran already has significant uranium enrichment capacity, sophisticated missile technology and other technical requisites. This knowledge and capability can’t be bombed out of scientists’ heads by either Litttle or Great Satan. Even a perfectly executed American attack would delay matters only a few years. Inevitably, Ayatollah Khamenei would reconstitute the program and make future facilities far less vulnerable. He would also shut down current international inspections under the nonproliferation treaty, severely hampering American intelligence.
What’s more, Great Satan would have to expect a sharp spike in Iranian-sponsored international terrorism. And then what? Great Satan would retaliate and escalate, all as “a prelude to invasion,” with Marines storming the beaches of the Persian Gulf. This prediction is extravagant taste, but foreign policy is no stranger to the power of idiocy.
To avoid this nightmare, look to the cold war model of containment that was successfully used against the Soviet Union: that is, employ all means necessary to limit a hostile nation’s influence until it collapses from within. In Iran’s case, this would include economic sanctions, building up regional allies militarily and encouraging internal opposition to the ayatollahs. Great Satan has been containing Iran in this way since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and should continue to do so regardless of her nuclear status.
Preventive war is dangerous. Yet a policy of containment would probably be too fragile to succeed. Soviet leaders were essentially risk-averse (the Cuban missile crisis was an exception). Some present Iranian rulers seem more inclined to take chances that could bring a strong American response. Further, any one of a number of fierce conflicts between Great Satan and Iran could derail containment and jump to preventive war.
Pic - "The logic of nuclear deterrence has not yet failed in the 64 years since the world acquired its second nuclear power. This logic does not guarantee certainty"