In a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations revealed today that (surprise!), Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of a UN resolution. Also not completely shocking is what the UN is going to do about it: sanctions. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that sanctions work in getting countries to stop making weapons. North Korea is a great example of a country that seems to enjoy sanctions as much as Britney Spears enjoys doing coke and having babies with guys you wouldn't hire to clean your swimming pool. Some might argue that the reason we didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is because of UN sanctions, but that's a topic for a different post.
The interesting thing about how the Bush Administration has responded is how differently they have handled this situation compared to Iraq. Iraq was a country that we couldn't prove definitively had a weapons program, and that we now know probably didn't have anything like what we're seeing in Iran. Iran has not denied the fact that they are enriching uranium, although they claim it's to make electricity. Iran's position, which is not completely insane, is that if the US and UN are allowing other countries to enrich uranium without sanctions, why should Iran be held to a higher standard?
If you look at the countries with known nuclear weapons programs, and you hold them to the same standard that we held Iraq to before we invaded, the last couple years of the Bush Administration could be pretty scary. If you look at non-allied countries with nukes, you have China and North Korea. If you look at countries where the government is of questionable stability, you have the same two countries. If you look at nuclear countries with documented ties to terrorism, both Pakistan and Israel fit the bill.
Apologists for the Bush Administration will argue that each country is a little different and each situation warrants it's own unique strategy. But the inconsistent nature in which the Administration handles their foreign policy makes any strategy look random, at best. Perhaps if they had been honest about why we invaded Iraq in the first place, this inconsistentcy would be more understandable.
Instead, we're left wondering if Iran is next on the docket. The sad thing, from a military standpoint, is that even if we needed to invade Iran to avert an imminent nuclear threat, we are so deeply involved in Iraq, that we don't have to forces to commit. The Iraq situation is so deeply screwed up, that there is no long range strategy that will produce a positive outcome as long as US troops are there. If you feel that there is an exit strategy, feel free to share it.