Eric, many thanks for your thoughtful and perceptive comments. Of course, I hope you are right that the Bush-administration strategy has advanced the prospects of successful diplomacy.
The reason I do not agree with your analysis, however, is that President Bush essentially gave up opposing Iran at the same time he denied Israel’s request for weapons, equipment, and overflight rights. Moscow and Beijing expressed their opposition to his attempts to stiffen UN sanctions, and Mr. Bush then acceded to the Russians and the Chinese. After Washington capitulated–that is, unfortunately, the best word for it–the stopping of Israel was tantamount to acceptance of Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.
I could be wrong–and I hope I am–but I believe Obama’s approach of renewed engagement with the mullahs is unlikely to succeed at this late date. The only tactic that can disarm the theocracy short of conflict is mobilization of our military followed by the issuance of a harsh ultimatum, and I don’t see the new president following this course of action.
President Bush agreed to cooperate with Russia and China with regard to North Korea, but his diplomacy failed to stop Pyongyang from becoming a nuclear power. He then tried this same general approach with Iran. Unless Mr. Obama attempts something drastically different, the result will be another radical regime armed with the most destructive weapon in history.