Three if by air?
When I arrived at Harvard in January, I was convinced that the Bush Doctrine was a dead letter. Iraq has been a disaster for US foreign policy in so many ways and it is hard to imagine that even the Bush administration wants to replicate the experience any time soon.
The war is economically costly, a large portion of the army is bogged down, domestic political forces would preclude a repeat, etc.
However, after talking with a fair number of security experts these past months, I'm beginning to rethink my views.
Namely, a significant number of security analysts think that the US might well employ a relatively simple airstrike against Iran's nuclear facilities sometime in the next year.
That's not to say that these experts think this is a good idea -- or that it would be effective. However, the US continues to demonize Iran, even when it seems like European allies have cut a decent deal -- and Iran is now being considered for admission to the WTO. Perhaps even more important than the administration's motives, it could well be that Iran's nuclear facilities would be relatively easy to target. This would almost certainly be the case for its known nuclear facilities.
If the US does attack Iran, there are many possible nasty responses. Just to name two, Iran could make life even more difficult for US troops in Iraq, or it could sponsor acts of terror against Americans.
Cynics note that, at minimum, we can expect the Bush administration to trumpet this issue for the next year -- building up to a Security Council debate.
And, of course, the 2006 midterm elections.