Coming into office on the heels of the Bush administration has given Obama numerous advantages. It doesn't take much for him to look good when compared to his predecessor, because almost any current problem can be blamed on the previous eight years of ineptitude. In many ways all our new President has to do to succeed is be the opposite of George W. Bush: well-spoken, reasonable, diplomatic.
But now Obama is faced with a very similar situation to the one faced by George Bush in 2003, except this time the problem comes from Iran. For fear of committing the same mistakes as Bush, Obama is taking a lenient stance on Iran's nuclear program. While this approach guarantees Obama will not accidentally take aggressive action based on faulty intelligence, this is one issue where a little Texas-style aggression is the best approach.
While there is evidence Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons, it is the attitude of the Iranian government that should be provoking more direct action. The International Atomic Energy Association reported last week that Iran has the knowledge to create a nuclear weapon that could hit most of the Middle East and parts of Europe. The European intelligence community, including Israel, France, Britain and Germany, has reached the conclusion that Iran has restarted work on producing such a weapon. In response to such claims, Iran has made several concessions that amount to a slap in the face of a truly concerned world.
Iran is willing to allow access to nuclear sites that were only recently disclosed—however, the inspectors won't be allowed in for three weeks. It's easy to see how Bush would have handled this news: He would have asked why Iran needs three weeks to let inspectors see a site that was supposed to have been disclosed long ago. He would have taken the intelligence reports of numerous nations and the report of the IAEA, put two and two together, and given Iran an ultimatum: Let us in now or we are coming in.
While Bush was wrong about nearly everything else, he was correct on his stance regarding nuclear weapons. Obama should be doing more than promoting negotiations and threatening sanctions if Iran doesn't cooperate. The world cannot afford another unstable nation with nuclear weapon capability; American needs to have the courage to enforce international law. Even if we are facing another example of faulty intelligence, there is no reason for Iran to deceive the international community.
Governments that are unwilling to cooperate fully on matters of global security and have not proven themselves to be committed to peace deserve no leniency. If the Iranian government truly had the best interests of its people in mind they would welcome the world's offer of inspectors and global participation in speeding their development of nuclear power. Deceit and stall tactics serve no purpose except incrimination.
Obama needs to respond to the Iranian nuclear situation without allowing past American actions to influence his decision. He should tell Iran what their action's look like and what he intends to do about it. Flawed though he was, America needs to adopt George Bush's attitude toward dangerous nations—If Iran refuses to prove that it is not seeking nuclear weapons Obama must take military action.
Andrew Carpenter is a senior majoring in communication arts and psychology. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to email@example.com.