Admiral Fallon and Iran

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Post has unfairly put Adm. William J. Fallon's views in a negative light ["A Failing Campaign," editorial, March 14]. The real issue has two aspects. The first is whether the campaign to stop Tehran's nuclear program can succeed by peaceful means without a credible threat of force. The answer is not clear-cut.

An effective sanctions regime might be sufficient to induce Tehran to alter its disturbing behavior, but the track record on sanctions has been poor. So the option of using force cannot be lightly discarded.

The question, then, is whether the United States, acting unilaterally and lacking the needed U.N. Security Council authorization, can credibly threaten to use force against Iran, given its current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly the United States has the capability. But would that produce the desired result, and how would we deal with the resulting chaos? Such questions are relevant.

Under these circumstances, U.S. saber-rattling lacks credibility and shifts attention from the irresponsibility of Iran to the potential for irresponsible action by the United States. Far from weakening the diplomatic offensive, Adm. Fallon's blunt statements simply removed the appearance of dangerous U.S. blustering. The threat of Iran's nuclear program is real, but the solution must be found through collective action, not irresponsible posturing.

J. STAPLETON ROY

Bethesda

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