That’s the provocative question posed by this N.Y. Times article. “It became obvious to Mr. Bush that he could not ... consider military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites unless he first showed a willingness to engage Iran’s leadership directly over its nuclear program and exhaust every nonmilitary option.” Has a decision to hit Iran already been made? Are we seeing a charade like the one before the Iraq war?
WASHINGTON, May 31 ? After 27 years in which the United States has refused substantive talks with Iran, President Bush reversed course on Wednesday because it was made clear to him ? by his allies, by the Russians, by the Chinese, and eventually by some of his advisers ? that he no longer had a choice.
During the past month, according to European officials and some current and former members of the Bush administration, it became obvious to Mr. Bush that he could not hope to hold together a fractious coalition of nations to enforce sanctions ? or consider military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites ? unless he first showed a willingness to engage Iran’s leadership directly over its nuclear program and exhaust every nonmilitary option.
Few of his aides expect that Iran’s leaders will meet Mr. Bush’s main condition: that Iran first re-suspend all of its nuclear activities, including shutting down every centrifuge that could add to its small stockpile of enriched uranium. Administration officials characterized their offer as a test of whether the Iranians want engagement with the West more than they want the option to build a nuclear bomb some day.