September 14, 2006

Throw the Wheel Out the Window?

In the legendary game of "chicken," where two hot-rodders aimed their cars at each other, the winner was the one who didn't turn away.

My pop game theory solution to winning at "chicken" is to visiblly throw the steering wheel out the window (actually, better yet, an extra steering wheel).

With Iran, that's apparently what Mario Loyola wants to do:
And that brings me to the most important point. For the moment, there is a third option between preemption and appeasement: diplomacy. Our diplomacy now is packaged to seem like it might succeed, but it is not calculated to succeed. If you give them a clear choice between a negotiated settlement and military confrontation then we can negotiate in good faith and perhaps arrive at a resolution that will achieve "peace in our time" on a secure and rational foundation.
I suppose Loyola has a point--the Europeans have so fair failed with Iran at least in part because no one believes the will do anything real--certainly not anything military.

With the US, the question is whether, unlike Europe, we have the street cred, because of Afghanistan and Iraq as sticks, and our economic strength as carrot, to make diplomacy effective, or does the depth of our entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan make our stick seem like balsa wood. Do the Iranians really fear an attack from us? Surely not a land attack. An air attack (short of a terminally stupid and criminal nuclear one) would be destructive but very likely ineffecttive, and possibly unite a restive country around the mullahs.

I'm not convinced at all, then, that increasing our swagger is a realistic or effective tactic. Increasing our armed forces seems politically and economically untenable at this point. A simplistic "lady or the tiger" strategy won't work, Mario.

Think again.

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