Iran: Is the U.S. headed for another war?

Commentators assess how the U.S should respond to Iran's plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador with a bomb attack on a popular Washington restaurant.

Iran has engaged in an “act of war,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht in The Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. must respond in kind. The U.S. government announced last week that members of Iran’s security forces were planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., in a bomb attack on a Washington restaurant that would have likely killed scores of Americans. It was merely the latest outrage from a rogue regime that is “becoming more dangerous, not less dangerous, as it ages.” If the Obama administration doesn’t respond militarily, “we are asking for it.” Through its sponsorship of the terrorist group Hezbollah, Iran has been killing Americans for 30 years, said William Kristol in More recently, it provided weapons and support to our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now Iran’s militant mullahs are racing to build nuclear weapons. “It’s time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force.”

Those “drumming for war on Iran” need to put down their drumsticks, said John Kass in the Chicago Tribune. Details of this outlandish bomb plot are still emerging, but even if a link to Iran’s leadership can be shown, the sheer wackiness of the scheme—using a Texas used-car salesman to funnel money to a Mexican drug gang, which would then conduct the “hit”—suggests that Iran’s regime is already losing its grip without our help. The idea that we should use this bungled plot to launch yet another unaffordable, unpredictable, and unwinnable war in the Middle East is absurd. Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Apparently not, said Glenn Greenwald in Just as they did when calling for war against Saddam Hussein, U.S. officials are putting on their “Very Serious Faces” and warning that “everything’s on the table” to punish Iran.

All things considered, said Jonah Goldberg in, bombing Tehran isn’t advisable at this time. “But I see nothing wrong with the Iranians thinking we might.” A dollop of real fear makes it so much easier to settle differences through negotiation. That’s why Ronald Reagan, while seeking deals with the Soviets, “also kept them wondering if he might bomb before breakfast.” Unfortunately, Iran knows that President Obama has an overwhelming preference for diplomacy and reasonableness, which is why the hints about war ring hollow. But “Iran won’t even consider being reasonable until it’s afraid of us.” How about it, Mr. President?

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