I've been told several times recently by self-described centrist hawks that I don't take the threat represented by Iran seriously enough.
I disagree, I just don't think I'm taking it way too seriously and inflating the threat beyond reality.
There are others who do exactly that, though. And they are far more able to push their agenda with the White House than I will ever be. There's a sizeable contingent of think-tank FP types who have considerable influence in the administration (especially the Fourth Branch) and who think attacking Iran would be a wonderful idea. They have even roped administration officials in to help with computer modelling saying it could even be good for the economy if only the White House enacted the economic policies they've been pushing for all along anyway.
So when people I respect, like James Joyner, write:
I continue to believe that various leaks about planning for military solutions to these crises are simply exercises in maintaining some level of uncertainty in the minds of Iranian and Syrian officials to give more weight to negotiations. From all indications, though, our rivals know full well that massive air strikes, let alone ground invasion, aren’t on the table and that the only ones being fooled are Seymour Hersh and a handful of bloggers.I have to wonder whether he really, actually believes that these people are less influential than they have been over the last six years, or whether perhaps they have all just been lying about wanting to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran for years now.
Yeah, sure, SecDef Gates and SecState Rice may be trying to use the strategy James describes, fraught as it is with problems - like Iran doesn't want the carrots being offered and isn't intimidated by the sticks - but I don't think they are as infuential as Cheney and the Decider himself is making noises that suggest he favors the War Faction over the Diplomacy Faction.
In any debate about Iran and what would be sensible, we cannot afford to ignore the simple fact that a large chunk of the opinion the White House has always listened to isn't sensible at all on the subject. Given that, there is good reason to believe the White House won't act sensibly.