President Bush has done us the service of clarifying U.S. policy
towards Iran's nuclear program. The New York Times reported yesterday:
Bush said he had "told people that if you're interested in
avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in
preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear
Thus, the goal of the Bush Administration is not merely to prevent
Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but to prevent Iran from having
the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. That's a very
different goal. It was fairly clear before that this was the true U.S.
policy, but now President Bush has done us the service of making it
explicit. The Iranians have long charged that the goal of U.S. policy
was to prevent them from acquiring knowledge. As it turns out, the
Iranians were right.
You could of course argue that, if you want to prevent Iran from
acquiring a nuclear weapon, one way to do it would be to prevent them
from acquiring the technical knowledge necessary to produce one. But
we should be clear what this policy entails. It is almost certainly
the case that there is no way to achieve this goal through the
international diplomatic framework. Such a goal could only be
achieved, if it can be achieved at all - which is doubtful - through
Will the end, will the means.
The goal of preventing Iran from actually acquiring nuclear weapons,
on the other hand, could very likely be achieved through diplomacy.
So, if you want to achieve a resolution of the conflict over Iran's
nuclear program through diplomacy, then Bush's stated policy cannot be
If, on the other hand, you choose Bush's goal, then you are not
choosing diplomacy. You are choosing unilateral action, that could
well lead to war.
Just Foreign Policy