Commentary Magazine


Better Than Nothing

Nicolas Sarkozy made some widely reported, albeit cryptic, comments on Iran to an audience of foreign ambassadors:

“If a credible agreement cannot be reached, Iran’s isolation would only worsen,” Sarkozy said. “And in the face of worsening threat, we would have to organize ourselves to protect and defend states that feel threatened. … Everybody knows that there are serious consequences to a policy that would allow Iran to follow its nuclear path,” Sarkozy said. “It would see a general proliferation in the region or even military conflict.”

Does “organize” mean take military action? Well, he seems to hint at that, by warning of “military conflict,” though it is far from certain he’s talking about initiating military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

But ambiguity is not necessarily ill-advised in this circumstance — given that no one knows where Obama is on any of this — but it is something, and a vast improvement over the Obami, who dare never answer the “What if?” question. (That would be, “What if, as everyone expects, the flimsy sanctions don’t induce the mullahs to give up their nuclear ambitions?”) Recently, we’ve seen some half-hearted attempts to put the use of force back on the table, but the equivocation and hesitancy convey that the Obami don’t have their hearts in it.

It’s certainly sobering that even a lukewarm suggestion that such a threat may be in the offing should come from the French president. It made headlines precisely because such comments have been rare from Western officials, and entirely absent from Obama’s public remarks. Now he’s set for a foreign policy address, supposedly to focus on Iraq, when he returns from vacation. It’s not inconceivable he would use the opportunity to talk about another regime, which, like Saddam’s, also oppresses its people, violates human rights and nuclear-nonproliferation accords, funds terrorism, and threatens its neighbors. But what are the chances of that?