Wednesday, January 18, 2006

War Drums Beating

It is difficult not to hear the sound of the war drums starting to beat in certain quarters.

Charles Krauthammer is an influential columnist in the Washington Post who is now one of the leading drummers.

Part of the show is naturally to pour scorn on the European diplomatic efforts. They have certainly not been fully succesful, but they have at the least managed the issue for some time. US diplomatic efforts with North Korea are hardly known for their immediate success either.

Now the policy line favoured by Krauthammer and others are sanctions of whatsoever sorts. But they are honest enough to acknowledge the distinct limitations of Europe imposing even total sanctions:

"A cutoff of investment and high-tech trade from Europe would be a minor irritant to a country of 70 million people with the second-largest oil reserves in the world and with oil at $60 a barrel. North Korea tolerated 2 million dead from starvation to get its nuclear weapons. Iran will tolerate a shortage of flat-screen TVs."

But this leaves little else than the war option if Iran persists in its policy, more or less irrespectively of what that policy is.

Krauthammar assumes that they are only month away from a nuclear weapon - US intelligence assessments seems to put that more than five years and perhaps as much as a decade away. We can't be certain.

That Europeans care about what happens after an initial military attack is something Krauthammar dislikes. One should have believed that Iraq should have thought some lessons in that regard.

It's always easy to start a war, but it's always good to have at the least an idea of how to conclude them.

Wars have an unfortunate tendency of always becoming bigger than what those that initiated them originally thought.

The Iran Charade, Part II