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Washington Institute: Iran: The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action

Author: Michael Eisenstadt
September 25, 2006

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Even as it seeks a diplomatic solution to the current impasse with Iran, the United States should keep the option of military prevention on the table. Whether Tehran can be cowed by threats of preventive action is unclear; some Iranian politicians might even welcome an attack in order to use a nationalist backlash to bolster their domestic standing. However, the possibility of preventive action might help stiffen weak European spines and move Russia and China to lend greater support to sanctions and other, tougher measures. Finally, by creating an atmosphere fraught with uncertainty, the threat of prevention serves also to create an environment unfavorable to foreign investment in Iran, imposing an additional cost on the Islamic Republic for its current policies.

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