Steven Simon and Ray Takeyh present a Goldilocks approach to war against Iran: not too much, not too little but war cooked just right. Who knew war could be modulated so carefully?
As it contemplated the use of force, the administration’s decision-making would be further complicated by the need for a plan to unwind military hostilities and make sure a confrontation did not escalate out of control. The White House would have to signal to Tehran that the U.S. military objective was not to overthrow the clerical regime but to enforce the will of the international community by disabling Iran’s nuclear program. The message would need to make clear that for the United States, hostilities would end with the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but that if Iran retaliated, Washington would press its attacks until Tehran could no longer respond. A sobering thought not just for the mullahs, but also for a U.S. administration that would have to carry out the threat.
The part you didn’t reproduce has somewhat heartening suggestions that if enough US allies and independent members of the Security Council are against a US strike the administration will back down. New negotiations are possible — balancing Iranian nuclear development against Israel’s — with binding limitations for both. This would be appropriate for a President who has supported the idea of working to eliminate ALL nuclear weapons.
The part you did reproduce has the atmosphere of high farce. If it were possible to turn wars on and off like turning a tap world history would have become something we could never recognize. Pipe dreams, indeed.