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Source: The Atlantic

Jan 29, 2024

Iran Cannot Be Conciliated

America’s segmented, limited, and naive policy approach toward Iran continues to fail. The U.S. needs to try something new.

By Eliot A. Cohen

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. A drone launched by an Iran-affiliated militia hit an American base in Jordan, near the borders with Syria and Iraq, killing three service personnel and wounding 25 more. Now, once again, the United States finds itself wondering what to do next.

The overpowering temptation for this administration is to engage in a game of tit for tat, aiming more frequently at things (missile launchers, for example) than people, and then to let things lie. Its fear, as ever, is of escalation, and it makes a point of saying so—as when, before the attack, Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated approvingly that “escalation is no one’s interest” and “no one wants to see more fronts opened in this conflict.”

Would that that were true. Escalation of a limited kind is absolutely in the interest of Iran, which definitely wants to see more fronts opened in this conflict.

Eliot Cohen is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He is the Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the author of The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall.

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