Iran Strategy: Charge of the Light Brigade

Attack is only half of a rational strategy, and the lesser half at that.
Defense Secretary Gates has evidently accused the White House of failing to develop a strategy on Iran. (He’s wrong; the strategy was to beat on them until they cry for mercy.) In that context, National Security Advisor Jim Jones said [New York Times, 4/18/10]:

The fact that we don’t announce publicly our entire strategy for the world to see doesn’t mean we don’t have a strategy that anticipates the full range of contingencies — we do.

That, General Jones, does not answer the question. The job of national security officials is, I am aware, all too often perceived as anticipating “the full range of contingencies.” But that is the fireman’s attitude: be ready for whatever happens. The national security job goes far beyond passive preparation. The phrase itself implies that we are just sitting here – “we” being the most powerful and aggressive and intrusive nation on earth!
First of all, the U.S. is not just sitting – it is patrolling the Persian Gulf, madly arming Israel beyond any conceivable defensive need, constantly threatening Iran for thinking about doing things we don’t like, actively working to marginalize Iran from world affairs, and conducting economic warfare against Iran.
Second, the job of national security officials should include proactive steps to improve national security. Therefore, what the U.S. should have is not just plans for all contingencies but plans to create a better environment. And of course General Jones would claim that the steps I listed in the previous paragraph entail just that.
My objection is that the steps Washington is taking publicly suggest that Washington is not even thinking about ideas to deal with Iran that are not negative. Like a novice judo fighter who never feints or throws his weight backward, Washington indeed has a strategy toward Iran and that strategy is to charge straight ahead as hard as possible without ever looking to either side. (One could write a poem…sorry, already done.)
The clue lies in Washington’s favorite 21st century phrase: “all options.” All options…not just the nasty ones. Details on request.
Further reading:
To entice Iran, Washington must ‘get real’MCW 2/4/10
Smarter Iran Policy begins with new attitudeAntiwar 5/27/09
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