In the Arena

What’s on the table?

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A lot of commentary in the blogosphere today, especially from Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein about whether “all options” should be “on the table” in dealing with Iran.

I was (correctly) hammered last year when I said on Stephanopoulos that “all options–including nukes–should be on the table” in our dealings with Iran. This was a mistake on two grounds–first the “all options/table” formulation is a diplomatic euphemism for nukes, so I was being redundant. Second, I didn’t make myself very clear: I thought, and still think “all/table” in response to an overt Iranian act of war against the United States. Processing nuclear fuel, even developing a bomb, doesn’t make the cut, although everything possible, short of war, should be done to discourage the latter.

As I wrote last week, I don’t think the Bush administration has the moral standing to make pre-emptive war on Iraq, and the next U.S. President will have an awful lot of ‘splainin to do before a pre-emptive attack would have any support in the world.
So, for this campaign, how about this formulation as a litmus test: “All options should be on the table…except pre-emptive actions.”