Council on Foreign Relations
February 7, 2012
(Jan. 17) ANYA SCHMEMANN: We have two pieces for you at the end of the table written by these folks. Ray Takeyh had a piece over the weekend in the Washington Post. Matthew Kroenig has a provocative piece in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine titled “Time to Attack Iran” — he will explain what he means by that — and Ray’s piece, “How the West Should Answer Iran’s Nuclear Aggression.” There’s a lot of issues to discuss. The nuclear part of it is really just one of several aspects, so we’ll get into that.
Just to frame this, we have two very different statements here. Matthew, in his piece, wrote, “Addressing the threat now will spare the United States from confronting a far more dangerous situation in the future.” And Ray’s piece says something a little different. He says, “A tense situation can provoke accidental conflicts and mishaps.” Parties might act impetuously and irresponsibly. The international community should not necessarily ease pressure. But it does suggest that eschewing — I like that word — “conduct” — one should “eschew conduct that further inflames the situation.”
Matthew, what do you mean by your piece? And, again, I’ll quote another line: “A military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.” Why would a military strike — how could it be successful? How would it help? And why can we not live with a nuclear Iran?
MATTHEW KROENIG: So, my analysis in this article came out of work I did last year where I was a special adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and where I worked on defense strategy and policy on Iran.
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