Killing Us with Kindness

As the United States re-evaluates its defense posture in a post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan world, it should re-think its approach to dealing with Iran, and guard against the possibility of a charm offensive with a sinister motive. So said Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in an address to AFA’s Mitchell Institute Tuesday in Arlington, Va. “We have to hedge against” the possibility that Iran may behave reasonably and cooperatively in the near term—an outwardly “responsible member of the international community”—in order to gain time to build up its conventional and nuclear forces, said Gunzinger. Iran could take 10 years to 15 years to translate oil wealth and a sanction-free economy into more powerful offensive systems and nuclear weapons. Then, “they might not be so friendly anymore,” he said, noting that “we need a fundamental [strategic] re-look at the Persian Gulf” region. He was answering questions about a new CSBA study he authored on dealing with Iran’s anti-access, area-denial capabilities. (For Daily Report coverage of Gunzinger’s study, read Changing Assumptions in the Persian Gulf and Overlapping Portfolios.)