"SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE...

"SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE SOLUTION. Okay. I don't really want to revisit the mean-spirited blog-feuds of yesteryear. Nevertheless, I've read The New Republic's editorial on the Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran situation, and I don't understand what it's trying to say about American policy:

The ascendancy of Ahmadinejad's perfidious Iran is a spectacular problem for the United States, and a spectacular challenge. Iran is now the single most powerful force arrayed against American ideals and interests in the Middle East. The various Islamist movements pose various threats; but here is Islamism incarnated in a large and ambitious state. For this reason, U.S. policy toward Iran must consist of more than an attempt to frustrate its nuclear designs. If we do not isolate Iran regionally and globally, if we do not do everything we can to support the democratizing forces in Iran, and of course if we do not move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all, then we will have presided over the creation of a nightmare worse than the nightmare of Saddam Hussein. If we succeed in Iraq (a considerable if) and fail in Iran, we will have failed in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it is not clear that President Bush grasps this.

If this is a call for the United States to launch a war with Iran, it's a mighty unclear way of issuing it. But if it's not a call for the United States to launch a war with Iran, what is it? The criticism of Bush's allegedly insufficient anti-Iranian zeal, the call to "move ruthlessly," all signs point to war. The next paragraph, however, just wends back to the idea that we should enthusiastically endorse Israel's military campaign in Lebanon. So is this an endorsement of an American war with Iran or not? If it is, is it okay to refer to the magazine as hewing to a neoconservative foreign policy line now?

--Matthew Yglesias

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