US must carry a big stick and show it will use it

TWO FORMER US diplomats, William H. Luers And Thomas R. Pickering, call for “ending the game of chicken’’ with Iran through innovative diplomatic means (Op-ed, March 10). But, as President Obama clearly understands, a so-called big stick supported by evident willingness to use it is critically required.

The regime in Iran has certainly noticed the immense clout that possession of nukes is providing the otherwise weak-sister nation of North Korea. So, for Iran, major sacrifices in the near term would be handsomely repaid by eventual possession of nuclear weapons.

At this point, two measures could make sense for the United States and our allies. First, avoid any overt threats of warfare and attack. Instead, refer to possible intervention as “police action’’ and “enforcement’’ only. The goal of any intervention would be the confiscation or destruction of centrifuges, and nothing more. War, if it should come, would be triggered by any Iranian attempts to disrespect the international police action.


Second, we and our allies should begin shipping tanks to depots in Iraq located near the Iran frontier. This would provide a credible and highly visible big stick that is so critically needed.

Get Arguable in your inbox:
Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

John Fountain