Iran: Writing on the Wall

Since George Bush’s re-election last November, tensions have been steadily increasing between Iran and the United States, as policy makers contemplate the next stage in the ‘war’ on terror

The World Today Published 1 March 2005 Updated 9 November 2020 3 minute READ

Professor Ali Ansari

Professor of Iranian History and Founding Director, Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews

While officially the US seems content to allow Europe to explore the diplomatic option, there is no disguising the fact that some officials in Washington are anxious to step up the pressure with talk of possible military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets. At one stage, despite subsequent clarifications and statements to the contrary, it was even suggested that Israel might take matters into its own hands.

Rhetorical equivocation may be a useful tool to unnerve opponents, but in this case it may also reflect the profound confusion in Washington circles over Iran policy, and the tragic recognition that after twenty-six years, a coherent, strategic approach has yet to be formulated. In so doing, Washington suffers from the severe handicap that it has no diplomatic presence on the ground, with the result that its perception of Iran is mediated through second and third parties, and heavily tinted by prejudice.

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