Ahead of U.S.-Iran, Tough Questions and Two Teams Feeling the Heat
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is making preparations for the possibility that American diplomats could be caught up in an attack on Iran; a top Republican senator is questioning whether an Israeli attack on Iran would be lawful; and Democrats are accusing President Bush of being too cautious in his response to North Korea’s nuclear reactor crisis.
The stakes are high in Washington and on the Korean Peninsula. The question is who will be leading the U.S. response to Iran and North Korea.
The White House has been criticized by many for being too cautious and too timid in dealing with North Korea, and for being too aggressive in Iran. It’s believed President Bush believes that regime change in Iran is an unlikely prospect, and that America should be careful not to get drawn into a long and bloody conflict if the Iran nuclear issue can be settled peacefully.
But the White House is believed to be feeling increasingly confident that diplomacy is the way to solve many thorny global issues — including Iran and North Korea — and that tougher action is not necessarily the best option.
In the meantime, lawmakers, diplomats and security experts are debating how to respond to Iran, North Korea and an array of other issues, from Iraq to the global economy.
President Bush has called for “restraint” in his strategy for handling North Korea, but this strategy is unlikely to produce results in the short or midterm elections this fall.
“I think he’s right. That’s why we have to do everything we can to calm the nuclear situation. And he’s right — we shouldn’t rush into anything,” said Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass. “But we should also talk to the people who have to live with the results of failure, that is to say the North Koreans.”
Kerry added that he does not expect Americans to view the Iranians in the same way they view North Korea.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is one of the most vocal critics of an Israeli attack on Iran. The former ambassador to London is among those who want the United States to make the case that “the other side” is “rioting