Would Iran believe a Cordesman-like ultimatum? Given the record of the Obama administration, maybe not. Some (though not Cordesman) have therefore suggested the further step of requesting congressional authorization for the use of force if Iran does not negotiate denuclearization.
First, that's the right way to do it. No serious military action should be taken without congressional approval (contra Libya). Second, Iran might actually respond to a threat backed by a strong bipartisan majority of the American people — thus avoiding both war and the other nightmare scenario, a nuclear Iran.
If we simply continue to drift through kabuki negotiations, however, one thing is certain. Either America, Europe, the Gulf Arabs and the Israelis will forever be condemned to live under the threat of nuclear blackmail (even nuclear war) from a regime the State Department identifies as the world's greatest exporter of terror. Or an imperiled Israel, with its more limited capabilities, will strike Iran — with correspondingly greater probability of failure and of triggering a regional war.
All options are bad. Doing nothing is worse. "The status quo may not prevent some form of war," concludes Cordesman, "and may even be making it more likely."
Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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