What do we do about Iran? The Islamic Republic presents a confounding series of challenges for the Obama administration. Over the past thirty years, Washington has produced an unimpressive track record of policies -- ranging from undeclared warfare to
unilateral concessions -- that have limited some Iranian mischief-making but have largely failed to convince Tehran to drop its support for terrorist groups, its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, or its wider efforts to overturn the regional status quo.
Which Path to Persia? objectively presents the most important policy options available to the United States in crafting a new strategy toward Iran. It considers four different types of solutions: diplomacy, military, regime change, and containment. Among the diplomatic options are one approach that would employ "bigger carrots and bigger sticks" and a strategy of pure engagement that would abandon sanctions and focus on changing Iran's strategic perceptions. The various military options include a full-scale invasion, an air campaign to destroy Iran's nuclear program, and allowing an Israeli air strike against the same. Regime change could take the form of triggering a popular revolution, supporting an insurgency, or aiding a military coup. Last, containment would involve deterring Iran
from trying to wield a future nuclear arsenal while hindering its ability to cause trouble in the region.
As Iran moves forward with its nuclear program, the urgency increases for the United States to implement a new policy. This distinguished group of authors, all senior fellows with the Saban Center at Brookings, points out that no one strategy is ideal and that all involve heavy costs, significant risks, and potentially painful trade-offs. With an eye to these perils, they address how the different options could be combined to produce an
integrated strategy that makes the best choice from a bad lot.