Lying behind the turmoil over Syria is another, greater challenge. It is the challenge of a nuclear Iran, which already haunts our Syria debate. President Rouhani’s election has revived the hope of many that a negotiated resolution of this issue is still possible. However, the history of U.S.-Iranian relations leaves room for considerable skepticism. Should these negotiations fail too, the United States will soon have to choose between the last, worst options: going to war to prevent a nuclear Iran or learning to contain one. A nuclear Iran is something few in the international community wish to see, but many fear that a choice will have to be made soon to either prevent or respond to that reality. Can the U.S. spearhead a renewed international effort to prevent a nuclear Iran, or will it be forced to do the unthinkable: to determine how to contain a nuclear Iran?
In his new book, Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Kenneth M. Pollack tackles these daunting questions. Pollack delves deeply into what the U.S. can do to prevent a nuclear Iran, why the military options leave much to be desired and what the U.S. might have to do to make containment a viable alternative. On September 16th at 2:30pm, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Senior Fellow Kenneth M. Pollack to discuss these sobering issues. Robin Wright, a United States Institute of Peace distinguished fellow and author of several highly-regarded books on Iran, moderated the discussion, after which the author took audience questions.