Dennis Ross, a possible choice to be Clinton's Undersecretary for Political Affairs, has a new piece on Iran. Excerpts:
"It's not clear the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would sacrifice anything to get nuclear weapons. In fact, history shows that his government responds to outside pressure, restricting its actions when it feels threatened and taking advantage when it judges it can. In 2003, for example, after the U.S. military made short work of the Iraqi Army—something Iran hadn't managed in eight years of war—Tehran quickly reached out to Washington, sending a proposal through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran that sought to allay U.S. concerns...By contrast, when the U.S. government released a National Intelligence Estimate a year ago concluding that Iran had suspended its weaponization program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quickly crowed that confrontation had worked and the Americans had backed down....Smart sanctions would force Iran's leaders to see the high costs of not changing their behavior. The way to achieve such pressure is to focus less on the United Nations and more on getting the Europeans, Japanese, Chinese and Saudis to cooperate. The more Washington shows it's willing to engage Iran directly, the more these other parties, will feel comfortable ratcheting up the pressure....Sharp sticks, of course, must be balanced by appetizing carrots...It's needed now to avoid two terrible outcomes: living with a nuclear Iran, or acting militarily to try to prevent it."