November 23, 2011
By, Vali Nasr
It wasn’t so long ago that the Obama administration was proudly proclaiming success in dealing with Iran, succeeding where the Bush administration had failed. For a time, a presumably weakened and isolated Iran was less of a worry.
Today, America’s Iran policy looks to be in disarray. The administration’s claims of victory ring hollow. Far from subdued, Iran is more defiant and belligerent. And the broad international coalition that the U.S. built against the country has splintered.
With the generally cautious International Atomic Energy Agency having finally accused Iran of secretly working to build nuclear weapons, the stakes are undeniably high. The clues to how to reset U.S. policy can be found in examining how things went wrong.
Whereas the Bush administration threatened military action in an effort to stymie Iran’s nuclear program, Obama officials leaked that they had accomplished that goal through sabotage — deploying the Stuxnet computer worm in a joint operation with the Israelis to set back the Iranians’ progress by several years. The Obama team also succeeded in enlisting the habitually recalcitrant Russia and China to support harsher sanctions against Iran at the United Nations.