Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

MEPC Capitol Hill Panel Discusses War with Iran

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

MEPC Capitol Hill Panel Discusses War with Iran

Article excerpt

"DIPLOMACY" was the word of the day on June 20, as the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) hosted a panel in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building to address the possibility, and potential repercussions, of U.S. military action against Iran.

Dr. John Duke Anthony, founding president and CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, opened the discussion by encouraging the engagement of Iran "in every possible, imaginable way." The downside of diplomacy, noted Dr. Anthony, is that it is often invisible, designed to prevent things from happening that one cannot prove would have happened otherwise. Diplomacy has not been exhausted, he pointed out, and must be pursued further.

Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Near East and South Asia Office, argued that there is another option between war and failed diplomacy: doing nothing. He characterized as "absolute insanity" the idea that Iran would carry out a nuclear strike against Israel-the concern, he said, "which is really what's driving all this."

While there is an obvious concern about a "proliferation domino effect," White acknowledged, he believes that Iran's desire to "go nuclear" is based primarily on the deterrent power of a nuclear arsenal. Moreover, strikes against nuclear targets may not dispel that desire, but rather force it underground. MEPC president Ambassador Chas Freeman paraphrased White's argument: "If you can't solve the problem, manage it."

During the panel's "Regional Reactions" segment, Professor Jean-Francois Seznec of Georgetown University noted that "actively doing nothing" is how he perceives Saudi Arabia's point of view. …

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