Dr. Chris Preble, director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, spoke on Wednesday of various solutions that the United States should or should not consider in dealing with the threat of Iran’s nuclear capacity. This event, “Iran: A Grand Bargain,” was co-sponsored by Chicago Society and Americans for Informed Democracy and was part of a nation-wide speaking tour by the Cato Institute on the subject.
Preble spoke about the “Grand Bargain” briefly before examining the other options open to the United States, including economic sanctions against the country, a “regime change” in Iran, and a “preventive war” launched by the United States. Preble rhetorically crossed off each option with a series of critical points: economic sanctions would be ineffective, regime change would be impractical (as the United States endorsement of any new Iranian pro-democracy group amounts to a “kiss of death”), and preventive war would just set the nuclear program back a few years at the cost of civilian lives. “There is no magic solution,” he stressed. “All options are sub-optimal.”
Preble even painted the option of a grand bargain—normalizing U.S.–Iran relations instead of pursuing an Iranian regime change, in exchange for their cooperation in nuclear inspections and their agreement to stop “cheating”—as a long shot which would have had a better chance of success before the Iraq War. But Preble also said the country had little to lose by trying: “Don’t believe the arguments that say, ‘We can’t do this because we’re bogged down in Iraq.’ There is no constraint on our capacity to do this.”