Detente worked with one implacable foe— the Soviets—and could help rein in Iran today.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, must sometimes strike Washington as the gift that keeps on giving. His odious statements on the Holocaust and Israel, his nuclear defiance and his disastrous domestic policies have produced outrage at home and around the world. Yet even his best efforts haven’t been enough to help the Bush administration build an international consensus around its floundering diplomatic approach.
The stalemate in talks and Washington’s escalating allegations of Iranian malfeasance in Iraq have fueled speculation that the United States might strike Iran before George W. Bush leaves office. No matter what the administration does for its final act, however, it’s still likely to bequeath the problem to its successor. Barring the unexpected, the next U.S. president will confront an array of threats similar to today’s. Fortunately, he or she will have plenty of options that Bush has discarded, overlooked or just plain ignored.