Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Fever of Mars

David Ignatius offers some sensible counsel at the WP:
Kennedy's genius was to reject the Cuba options proposed by his advisers, hawk and dove alike, and choose his own peculiar outside-the-box strategy. He issued a deadline but privately delayed it; he answered a first, flexible message from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev but not a second unyielding one; he said he would never take U.S. missiles out of Turkey, as the Soviets were demanding, and then secretly did precisely that. Disaster was avoided because Khrushchev believed Kennedy was willing to risk war -- but wanted to avoid it.

The Bush administration needs to be engaged in a similar exercise in creative thinking. The military planners will keep looking for targets (as they must, in a confrontation this serious). But Bush's advisers -- and most of all, the president himself -- must keep searching for ways to escape the inexorable logic that is propelling America and Iran toward war. I take heart from the fact that the counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow, is an expert on the Cuban missile crisis who co-authored the second edition of Allison's "Essence of Decision."
Iran's Mullocracy must not become a nuclear power. The world can't allow that. The West must not allow that. The US will not allow that. But how do we stop it?

Graham Allison's cogent analysis of the current crisis may offer Mr. Ignatius' counsel some validity. A combination of public steel and private rubber could resolve the impasse Iran and the world face while allowing both parties to save face. Every Fool should yearn for the success of such a strategy.

But what if it fails?