Today, the United States confronts no shortage of strategic challenges in the Middle East. Initial optimism about democratic change among the countries of the "Arab Spring" has given way to deep apprehension over the ascendance of Islamist forces in places like Egypt and Libya. The post-Saddam government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains fragile and unstable, riven by sectarian divisions and propelled by divisive power politics. And al-Qaeda, although down in the wake of the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, is decidedly not out, as frequent bombings in Iraq and mounting unrest in Yemen underscore.
But no foreign policy dilemma is as vexing, or as potentially significant for both American interests and the security of its regional allies, as the one posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Yet so far, it would be fair to say that serious American strategy toward Iran has been in short supply.
The blame is hardly President Obama's alone. For nearly two decades, successive administrations have struggled in vain to contain and alter Iran's rogue behavior. Since 2003, these efforts have focused overwhelmingly on derailing Tehran's burgeoning nuclear program, with little success. But the Obama administration has certainly not helped matters. Its stubborn fixation on diplomatic "engagement" and systematic neglect of pro-democracy forces has provided the Iranian regime with valuable strategic and ideological breathing room, while its schizophrenic approach to economic warfare has fallen short of altering Iran's perceptions about the benefits of going nuclear. And because it has not, the Islamic Republic now stands on the precipice of nuclear capability—and the Middle East on the brink of a new and potentially devastating conflict.
A dangerous diplomatic dalliance
The Obama administration took office in 2009 promising a more constructive, multilateral approach to Iran than that of its predecessor. During its tenure (and particularly in its second term), the George W. Bush White House had focused overwhelmingly on applying economic pressure to the Iranian regime in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to alter its strategic trajectory. By contrast, Obama believed that deeper and more meaningful diplomatic "engagement" could succeed where sanctions had not, and bring Iran's nuclear program to heel.
This idea, it should be noted, was not new. Diplomacy with Iran had been tried multiple times by the United States and Europe since Iran's nuclear program broke into the open in the fall of 2003. The first such effort, spearheaded by the "EU-3" countries (Germany, France and Great Britain), had stretched from 2003 to 2005. The second took place in June 2008 via consultations with Iran by the P5+1 countries (the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France and Great Britain). Nearly a dozen proposals and compromises were alternately floated by Iran and the West in between. All failed to reach a substantive breakthrough with Iran over its nuclear endeavor.
The Obama White House, however, was undaunted. President Obama used his March 2009 Nowruz message to Iran to tell Iran's leaders that his administration was "committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community." In the months that followed, the Administration doggedly pursued this diplomatic track—repeatedly forgoing opportunities to apply strategic pressure to the Iranian regime in hopes that its goodwill would be reciprocated. Or, to use the parlance of the Administration itself, that Iran's ayatollahs would at long last grasp the "outstretched hand" being proffered by the President.
But they didn't. Iran's leaders time and again publicly rejected American overtures, terming them to be insincere and a ploy. It was not until the Fall of 2009, following months of obfuscation and delay, that the Iranian government grudgingly agreed to negotiate with the United States, proffering a series of "proposals" ostensibly aimed at bridging the impasse over its nuclear program. Predictably, none of these offers panned out. They did, however, have the effect desired by Tehran, of keeping Washington diplomatically engaged and delaying its turn to sterner measures. All told, some fourteen months passed between President Obama's March 2009 overture and the passage of serious new sanctions against Iran in the summer of 2010.
Yet hope for some sort of "grand bargain" still springs eternal. Thus, in the spring of 2012, the Obama administration and its fellow members of the P5+1 sat down with Iran once again for negotiations over its nuclear program. That dialogue, held in Istanbul, Turkey, was billed as the "last chance" for Iran to compromise over its nuclear program. But it proved to be the start of a new and protracted diplomatic process. Another round followed in Baghdad, Iraq, in May 2012, and then another in Moscow, Russia, the following month—all with little tangible progress for the West.
The same cannot be said for Iran. As seen from Tehran, the Obama administration's diplomatic outreach has been wildly successful. By deftly playing on Washington's desires to avoid confrontation, the Islamic Republic has gained valuable time to add permanence to its nuclear endeavor, and to adapt its economy to better weather international sanctions.
Stronger sanctions... but to what end?
The United States has attempted to seriously leverage economic pressure against the Iranian regime for more than a decade-and-a-half, ever since the Clinton administration signed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act into law back in 1996. Throughout that time, the goal of U.S. sanctions has been consistent: to ratchet up the cost of Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to the point that Tehran's enthusiasm is chilled.
Today, economic pressure against Iran has entered a qualitatively new stage. Since mid-2010, on the heels of its failed attempts at "engagement" with Iran's ayatollahs, the Obama administration increasingly has made economic sanctions the centerpiece of its approach to Iran. The opening salvo was the passage, in July 2010, of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA)—an omnibus bill that focused on Iran's economic Achilles' heel: its need to import refined petroleum from foreign sources. This was followed by a series of other Executive Branch efforts, including: an April 2011 Executive Order targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) for providing support to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, an October 2011 designation by the Treasury Department of IRGC members implicated in the attempted assassination of Saudi envoy Adel al-Jubeir, and a November 2011 Executive Order proscribing international financial institutions from conducting transactions with Iran's Central Bank. Most recently, in July 2012, the White House and Treasury Department both announced new measures taking aim, respectively, at Iran's petrochemical sector and international financial institutions implicated in trading with Iran.
Congress, meanwhile, has been busy crafting new pressure of its own. Having originally formulated CISADA to target Iran's energy sector and gasoline dependence, it has more recently proposed broader legislation to both expand pressure on Iran's energy economy and to penalize it for its human rights violations.
These unilateral efforts have been buttressed by international ones. Thus pressure from the United States and European nations led the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, to blacklist dozens of Iranian banks in March 2012—thereby effectively cutting Iran off from most international commerce. Equally significant was the European Union's imposition in mid-2012 of a ban on the importation of Iranian oil by member states, which until then had accounted for nearly a fifth of Iran's crude exports.
Cumulatively, these measures have had a real and tangible effect on Iran's economic fortunes. The Islamic Republic is now losing an estimated $133 million daily in revenue. Inflation in Iran is soaring (estimated as of this writing at upwards of 30 percent and rising), and the cost of food staples such as bread and meat has risen dramatically in recent months, progressively outpacing the ability of ordinary Iranians to pay for them. Iran's economic horizons, too, have constricted considerably. In large part as a result of the European Union's July 2012 oil ban and the attendant difficulties of obtaining insurance for oil shipments from the Islamic Republic, a number of major Iranian crude consumers have drawn down their purchases significantly. As a result, Iran's oil exports are now estimated at one million barrels per day—the lowest figure in years, and just a fraction of the 2.5 million barrels the Islamic Republic was exporting daily just a few years ago.
Yet it is equally clear that Western pressure has fallen short of dissuading Iran's leaders from their pursuit of the "bomb." Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said as much in April 2012 when he blustered that Iran can withstand an oil blockade of the type envisioned by Europe for "2-3 years"—by which time his country ostensibly already will have crossed the nuclear Rubicon, and sanctions would be obsolete. Iran's Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, confirmed this outlook, recently calling for a "resistance economy" that would allow the Iranian regime to remain afloat—and on its current nuclear course—despite Western pressure.
Iran's determination has a great deal to do with political will on the part of the United States. Although President Obama can be credited for passing the most sweeping sanctions ever levied against the Islamic Republic, the reality is that most of that pressure remains unused. Leery of roiling relations with vital international trade partners and worried about imperiling America's fragile economic recovery, the Obama administration has shied away from seriously harnessing the economic tools at its disposal. (An important secondary factor has been the realization that real, crippling sanctions could further destabilize the Iranian regime, making it more difficult for Washington to reach the negotiated settlement with Tehran that it desires.)
Thus, to date, the Obama administration's flagship sanctions effort, CISADA, has been applied in just a handful of cases, and against only marginal economic players (the most prominent among them Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA). The end result has been a U.S. sanctions regime that, while robust on paper, is flimsy in practice—systematically underutilized by an Executive skittish over its potential adverse consequences.
Of course, it is far from clear that sanctions can in fact derail Iran's drive toward nuclear status. Iran's leadership may simply be too determined to cross the nuclear threshold to be stopped by anything short of force. What is exceedingly apparent, however, is that the economic pressure levied by the Obama administration so far has not had anything resembling the breadth and diligence needed to make sanctions matter to Iran's ayatollahs.
Abandoning Iran's democrats
In the summer of 2009, the fraudulent reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency catalyzed a groundswell of protest against the regime in Tehran. That uprising, collectively known as the "Green Movement," showed tremendous initial promise, with hundreds of thousands of Iranians taking to the streets to rally against regime rule and demand profound political change.
But, in the months that followed the movement's emergence, this initial momentum slowed and the political tide turned. This reversal was due, in significant part, to an apparent lack of interest on the part of the international community — most vitally, the United States itself. The Obama administration, then working diligently to engage the Iranian regime, made clear that it saw the unrest as strictly an internal matter. Only belatedly, following the brutal suppression of protests by regime security forces, did the White House take a sterner stand. The West's lack of interest was instructive, indicating to Iran that it could respond to the uprising as it saw fit, without fearing censure from the international community. The results were dramatic; in the months that followed, the "Green Movement" was effectively dismembered, its leaders jailed or marginalized, and its supporters bloodied and cowed into silence.
So the situation remains today. At present, the Green Movement can be said to be more virtual than actual, existing online (in Facebook groups and Internet chat rooms) but with little tangible manifestation in the real world. A good indicator of this reality is the fact that the power struggle within Iran over the past two years hasn't been between liberals and conservatives, but among regime conservatives themselves, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his followers (pejoratively labeled the "deviant current") on one side and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the country's traditional clerical elite on the other.
The ferocity of the Iranian regime's campaign against the "Green Movement" reflects a fundamental reality: the state of freedom within Iran is inversely proportional to the stability of Iran's theocracy. To the extent that the democratic aspirations of ordinary Iranians are met, the clerical regime in Tehran will find itself weakened—perhaps fatally so. Iran's leaders understand this very well, and have devoted tremendous time and effort to quelling protests and squelching internal dissent.
They have done so largely unhindered. Over the past two decades, successive administrations have devoted precious little time—and even less financial resources—to empowering Iran's "human terrain."
The numbers tell the story. In its second term, the Bush administration authorized a total of $215 million in funding for all diplomatic programs dealing with Iran. But only a small fraction of that sum—some $38.6 million—was dedicated specifically to democracy promotion, and even those paltry funds ultimately were diluted by bureaucratic infighting. The Obama administration has done even less; in its first year, it allocated some $40 million for the unfortunately named Near East Regional Democracy fund (which encompasses Iran). But, due to the White House's persistent efforts to engage the Iranian regime, these funds have remained largely unused—lest U.S. support for pro-democracy forces within the Islamic Republic undermine prospects for an elusive "grand bargain" with its leadership. As a result, the White House has contented itself with mouthing empty words of support for Iran's urge for democracy—when, that is, it has paid attention to it at all.
It's the regime, stupid
Undergirding the Obama administration's missteps has been a fundamental misreading of the nature of the regime in Tehran. Contrary to what Administration experts—and their coterie of advisors in the Beltway think tank community—seem to believe, Iran is not an ordinary country in the vein of the plodding ancien régimes of Europe. It isn't even an ambitious Middle Eastern variant of Asia's nationalistic and economically dynamic "tigers."
It is, rather, a revisionist revolutionary state with a distinct manifest destiny. Iranian leaders have long seen their country as the markaz-e zamin: the Middle East's geopolitical "center of the universe" around which regional politics must by rights revolve. And today, for all the difficulties it is experiencing at home, the Iranian leadership clearly thinks that time is on its side. It has good reason to do so. America's withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2012 left Iran's western neighbor a fragile emerging democracy prone to both corruption and ideological subversion. The Coalition's impending retraction from Afghanistan (to be completed by the end of 2014, if not sooner) promises much of the same, since the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul remains both dysfunctional and malleable. The "Arab Spring," meanwhile, has held out the promise of a dramatically reconfigured balance of power in the Greater Middle East—one that is potentially considerably more favorable to Iranian ideas and influence than was the previous status quo.
In this context, Iran's nuclear program represents a critical insurance policy—one that will guarantee regime longevity and forestall foreign nations (like the United States) from acting to prevent its regional rise. All of this goes a long way toward explaining why the Iranian regime shows no intention of giving up on its nuclear will to power, in spite of mounting Western pressure. It follows, then, that changing this calculus should lie at the heart of any serious American strategy toward Iran.
Steps toward a new approach
Such a reboot starts with sanctions. The Executive Branch already has sweeping authorities to target Iran's economy on everything from financial transactions to oil exports. These powers can be broadened still further: for example, to constrict Iran's natural gas trade, or to expand the reputational risk for companies involved in sanctionable activities in Iran. But neither existing sanctions nor new ones will make a difference absent real political will on the part of the President. Simply put, the White House must be willing to tighten the economic noose to the point that the Iranian regime realizes its progress toward the bomb is inversely proportional to its ability to stay in power. It must also be willing to enforce a simple choice on countries (like Russia and China) that have long pursued a "business as usual" approach to Iran: you can either trade with the Iranian regime or with the United States, but not with both.
Sanctions, however, cannot be a panacea for our nagging Iran problem. As Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has put it, sanctions are only "silver shrapnel" that can wound the Iranian regime—not a "silver bullet" that is guaranteed to kill it. In order for sanctions to be effective, in other words, they must be married with other tactics—military, ideological and informational—as part of a larger, comprehensive national strategy.
That brings us to the military dimension. Over the past three years, as the international stand-off with Iran has deepened, Administration officials have taken pains to stress that "all options remain on the table" for the United States in dealing with Iran's nuclear program. Yet U.S. conduct has sent a very different message. Washington has failed to respond decisively to Iranian troublemaking in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, or take the regime to task over its sponsorship of an array of regional radicals (from Lebanon's Hezbollah to Palestinian rejectionist groups to Shi'a militias in Iraq).
The results have been devastating. Despite the Administration's insistence that the military option against Iran remains viable, no one currently believes that to be true—least of all the Iranians themselves. And because they do not, the Iranian regime remains undeterred from its current, destructive strategic course. Reversing this trend requires that the United States reconstitute a credible military option against Iran—and link it, clearly and unequivocally, to Iranian behavior. Additional U.S. force deployments in the region, the pre-positioning of military assets in the Persian Gulf, and stepped-up cooperation with key regional allies on issues such as missile defense and counterproliferation can all communicate, far more robustly than can words out of Washington, that conflict is distinctly possible if Iran does not alter its behavior.
So can a stronger U.S. policy toward Israel. Currently, policymakers in Jerusalem are waging an acrimonious internal debate over the necessity, and the prudence, of a military strike on Iran—and doing so despite the significant economic and security costs that such a course of action would likely entail. Should it choose to move against Iran, as now seems likely, the Jewish state will need both American strategic support and political backing. The latter, at least, has been largely absent of late. While technical aspects of the Reagan-era "special relationship" between Israel and the United States—such as missile defense cooperation and coordination on counterterrorism issues—have continued, and even intensified, during Obama's tenure, the larger bilateral political relationship has been severely strained over a myriad of issues, and none more so than Iran. Indeed, the Obama administration has been accused of leaking sensitive information in an effort to complicate Israeli decisionmaking vis-à-vis Iran and forestall an Israeli strike. Such steps, in turn, have created a significant trust deficit between Washington and Jerusalem—and made unilateral Israeli action all the more likely.
A more constructive American approach would be predicated on support, rather than subversion. After all, Iranian leaders themselves have made clear that the United States will be dragged into the middle of an Israel-Iran war, whether Washington backs an Israeli strike or not. As such, there is great merit to a proactive U.S. policy of support that clearly communicates a unity of effort between Israel and the United States, and thereby helps to deter Iranian retaliation and suppress an escalation of hostilities in the region. Indeed, as Amos Yadlin, Israel's former chief of military intelligence, has outlined, Israeli action might be forestalled outright through "an ironclad American assurance that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity—and all other options have failed to halt Tehran's nuclear quest—Washington will act to prevent a nuclear Iran while it is still within its power to do so." But if Washington cannot or will not give such a guarantee, Israel likely will decide to eliminate the threat itself. If it does, the United States should unequivocally support its strategic choice, knowing that the end result—the neutering of Iran's nuclear menace—is far more in the interest of the United States than is a Middle East dominated by an atomic Iran.
Finally, America needs to make long-overdue investments in Iran's future. It has long been clear that in the case of Iran, a country nearly two-and-a-half times the size of Texas, fundamental change cannot realistically be imposed from the outside, the way it was in Iraq. Rather, it will need to percolate from within. This is not a novel idea; successive American administrations have said as much publicly. What they have not done, however, is empower the idea of Iranian freedom in a tangible way.
That represents a fatal error. Iran's 78-million-person population is overwhelmingly young (two-thirds are under the age of 35), educated and Western-oriented. Iran's ruling ayatollahs, by contrast, are aging, infirm and out of touch with the aspirations of their people. It is this disparity that represents the fundamental fault line within the Islamic Republic today, and the one which to a large extent will dictate the country's future course. A transformation of Iran toward pluralism and away from its current radical theocracy would be a boon to American interests, regional stability and most of all to the Iranians themselves.
For this to have a chance of happening, though, the United States will need to pay serious, sustained attention to issues such as human rights abuses, corruption and inequality within the Islamic Republic. It also will need to use its political and economic influence to weaken the Iranian regime's ability to persecute its captive population, and help to empower the Iranian pro-democracy activists that will ultimately bring change to the Islamic Republic.
Here, at least a glimmer of hope exists. Although Western sanctions so far have fallen short of sparking a fundamental strategic rethink on the part of the Iranian regime, they do appear to be having a catalytic effect on Iran's beleaguered opposition. There are some hopeful early signs that the economic turbulence now visible within Iran—including soaring inflation, rising commodity prices, and shortfalls in the federal budget—may reinvigorate the domestic resistance to Iran's ayatollahs, and breathe new life into Iran's pro-democracy forces.
Seeing Iran straight, at last
Most of all, the key to getting American policy right lies in realizing that the threat Iran poses to American interests and the security of our allies is a function of the radical, ideological regime now in power in Tehran. Worries over the Iranian regime's nuclear development, and how Iran's ayatollahs might behave once they cross the nuclear Rubicon, are but a symptom of that phenomenon.
For the United States, the stakes could not be any higher. A bellicose, nuclear-armed Iran would profoundly reshape the geopolitical currents of the Middle East, to the great detriment of America, its allies and its regional interests. That Iran is within striking distance of doing so is a testament to the profound misunderstanding of the nature of the Iranian regime that has characterized our approach so far.
 For a good summary, see "History of Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue," Arms Control Association, August 2012, http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Iran_Nuclear_Proposals.
 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "Videotaped Remarks by the President in Celebration of Nowruz," March 20, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/VIDEOTAPED-REMARKS-BY-THE-PRESIDENT-INCELEBRATION-OF-NOWRUZ.
 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, H.R. 2194, 111th Congress, June 25, 2010, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr2194/text.
 "Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to Human Rights Abuses in Syria," Federal Register 76, no. 85, May 3, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/13572.pdf.
 U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, "Anti-Terrorism Designations; Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Related Designations," October 11, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFACEnforcement/Pages/20111011.aspx.
 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "Message to Congress—Iran Sanctions," November 21, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/21/message-congressiran-sanctions.
 Julian Pecquet, "Administration Orders New Sanctions on Iran," The Hill, July 31, 2012, http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-eastnorth-africa/241331-white-house-announcesnew-iran-sanctions-.
 Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012, H.R. 1905, 112th Congress, May 13, 2011, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr1905.
 Corey Flintoff, "New Sanction Severely Limits Iran's Global Commerce," NPR, March 19, 2012, http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148917208/without-swift-iran-adrift-in-global-banking-world.
 "EU Ban on Iranian Oil: What You Need to Know," BBC, July 2, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18655438.
 Anthony DiPaola and Isaac Arnsdorf, "Iran Loses $133 Million a Day on Embargo, Buoying Obama," Bloomberg BusinessWeek, August 2, 2012, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-01/iran-loses-133-million-a-day-from-sanctionsas-oil-buoys-obama.html.
 See "Deepening Economic Malaise At Home..." Iran Democracy Monitor no. 122, August 10, 2012, http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewBulletin/1642.
 Robert Tait, "Iran's Food Costs Soar and Unemployment Spirals as Nuclear Sanctions Begin to Bite," Telegraph (London), July 1, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9368117/Irans-food-costssoar-and-unemployment-spirals-as-nuclearsanctions-begin-to-bite.html.
 Osamu Tsukimori and Chen Aizhu, "Asian Oil Buyers Help Iran Stave Off the Worst, for Now," Al-Arabiya, August 13, 2012, http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/13/231957.html.
 "Ahmadinejad: We Can Manage Iran if We Don't Sell Oil for 3 Years," FARS (Tehran), April 10, 2012, http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9101141229.
 "Resistance Economy against Sanctions," Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, August 5, 2012, http://english.irib.ir/voj/news/economy/item/83297-resistance-economy-against-sanctions.
 Prerana Swami, "GOP Hits Obama for Silence on Iran Protests," CBS News Political Hotsheet, June 15, 2009, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-5090434-503544.html.
 For more on this tug-of-war, see Jamsheed K. Choksy, "Ahmadinejad's Crusade," The Journal of International Security Affairs no. 21, Fall/Winter 2011.
 White House, Office of Management and Budget, "Iran All-Spigot Funding Chart," July 18, 2008. (author's collection)
 For a review of Iranian strategic thinking in this regard, see Graham E. Fuller, The Center of the Universe: The Geopolitics of Iran (Westview Press, 1991).
 As cited in Peter Goodspeed, "Sanctions against Iran May Destabilize, Topple Regime by 'Ratcheting Up Hassle Factor': Expert," National Post, January 28, 2012, http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/28/sanctions-against-iran-maydestabilize-topple-regime-by-ratcheting-up-hassle-factor-expert/.
 Barak Ravid, "Obama: All Options Remain on the Table to Prevent a Nuclear Iran," Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), March 4, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/obamaall-options-remain-on-the-table-to-prevent-anuclear-iran-1.416405.
 Israeli business information group BDI has estimated the direct and indirect impact on the Israeli economy of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities at approximately NIS 167 billion ($41.75 billion)—close to a fifth of total national GDP. Guy Katsovich, "BDI: Attack on Iran Will Cost Israeli Economy NIS 167b," Globes (Tel Aviv), August 20, 2012, http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000775518&fid=1725.
 Ron Ben-Yishai, "Analysis: US Thwarting Israeli Strike on Iran," Yediot Ahronot (Tel Aviv), March 29, 2012, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4209836,00.html.
 Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, for example, has said that an Israeli attack "will harm America." "Fear of Israel War with Iran Grows amid Heightened Nuke Concerns," ABC News The Note, February 3, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/drumbeat-of-war-with-iran-grows-amid-heightenednuke-concerns/.
 Amos Yadlin, "Israel's Last Chance to Strike Iran," New York Times, February 29, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/opinion/israels-last-chance-to-strike-iran.html.
 Yassamin Issapour, "Inflation and Iran's Regime," Wall Street Journal Europe, July 4, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304211804577504400138905994.html.