Make no mistake about it, a strike on Iran’s nuclear program is an unattractive option. But it is better than the even worse option of allowing a nuclear-armed Iran to threaten international peace and security for decades to come.
Successive US presidents have declared that a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable” and that “all options are on the table” to prevent that from happening. America is rapidly reaching the point where it must accept the unacceptable or exercise its last remaining option.
Faced with this choice, the United States should destroy Iran’s nuclear program, step back and absorb an inevitable round of retaliation, and seek to quickly de-escalate the crisis. Dealing with the problem now will allow the US – and its friends and allies – to avoid an even greater threat in the future.
Matthew Kroenig is a Stanton Nuclear Security fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This article has been adapted from an essay in the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.