So, this is a quick story about a non-story, but a real policy. And that policy is a real problem.
The non-story is the exchange today between Congressman Mo Brooks, the Republican member representing Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District, and Ambassador Wendy Sherman, currently the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The congressman pressed the ambassador about the Obama administration’s commitment to stopping Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, at which point Ambassador Sherman reiterated administration policy:
[T]he President has been very clear that all options are under consideration. I think that everyone in the world would prefer there be a peaceful resolution to this situation. But, no one should have any doubt about where the President of the United States stands on this. He will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, he has stood side-by-side with many of our partners and allies around the world, including Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and said as much. So there is no pulling back from that stance. At all.
That’s not really a controversial answer. In fact, it’s not much of an answer at all. Congressman Brooks pushed harder:
…is it fair to say that President Obama is prepared to use, if necessary, America’s nuclear arsenal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
Understandably, Ambassador Sherman chose not to speculate on that. So Mr. Brooks asked a follow-on:
[Is] President Obama is prepared to launch if necessary an Iraq or Afghanistan style ground invasion in Iran to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
Again, the ambassador prudently refused to speculate on which actions the United States might, or might not, take if Iran closes in completing an actual nuclear weapon, and instead noted only that America has “many ways to fight Iran’s efforts to gain a nuclear weapon,” and that we’d always stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Israel.
Now, to foreign policy watchers, this is just another day at the office. It’s pretty much the standard answer to those questions — and that’s the problem, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.
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