More on Iran
Back in when Commnist China was considered a major threat to the US (not economically, but politically and militarily), there was a great deal of debate on how the US should deal with Communist China.
Some said we should isolate China and deal with it aggressively, cutting it off politically and economically and threatening military action if and as we might deem necessary.
Nixon, on the other hand, argued that we should instead engage with China constructively -- encouraging business contacts, student exchanges, while applying diplomatic pressure for change away from totalitarian communism and towards human rights.
Nixon won the day, and the US implemented a campaign of engagement with the goal to encourage friendly relations with China, and a gradual coaxing of their government in directions we wanted to see them go.
This proved to be a winning strategy. China is not our best ally, but it is far from our worst enemy. In the late eighties, when I spent a year living in Beijing, the attitude of your average Chinese citizen towards America was overwhelmingly positive. More recently, they have moved away from a strict Communist economy.
We are faced with the same choices when it comes to dealing with Iran, and other hot spots around the world. Do we isolate them, poltically, ecomically, and threaten them with force? Or do we engage with them, hoping that interaction and diplomatic pressure will moderate their more extreme tendencies?
In Iran we have taken the former path. And it hasn't gotten us very far. Perhaps it is time to try the methodology we applied in China. I can't help but think it would be more effective than the angry, beligerent, threatening pose we have adopted today.