The Challenge of Iran

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Aug. 21 editorial "Tougher on Iran" made a strong case for imposing sanctions on Iran for supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents. I don't disagree with this. However, some background would have shown how truly convoluted any actions would be and possibly give some insight into how the rest of the world would react.

The United States has a long history of supplying arms to one side or another in conflicts around the world, with apparent impunity, and other nations are aware of this. The Iran-contra scandal has suddenly evoked a new sense of irony, hasn't it?

In Afghanistan in the 1980s, we supplied, quite openly, the mujaheddin with Stinger missiles that were used to shoot down Soviet helicopters. How did that turn out?

Much of the world views the United States as an invader of Iraq. We are considering whether to designate a branch of Iran's military as a terrorist organization.

If there ever were a time to move slowly, deliberately and build a strong international consensus for tough sanctions, the time is now.

Imposing harsh economic sanctions makes sense in that this approach avoids armed conflict and may very well have a more lasting, and beneficial, impact.

As a former Marine, I am sickened that we are taking casualties from Iranian-supplied weapons, but even I realize that conducting open military operations at this time within a sovereign nation should be a last resort.



© 2007 The Washington Post Company