No wonder presidents seem to age so quickly -- dealing with the country’s toughest problems every day takes its toll. Many of those problems seem almost insolvable.
Look no further than Iran.
Since its Islamic revolution in 1979, that country has bedeviled American presidents and presented us with mostly bad choices. And it keeps raising the ante. Iranian officials recently admitted something U.S. intelligence agencies had already told President Obama: Ahmadinejad and company are building a hidden uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom.
The Iranians showed no contrition. Instead, they acted belligerently, testing missiles that could -- someday -- be used to attack western cities.
There are no easy answers. During the Bush administration, the U.S. tried to work with allies to defuse the Iranian threat. Yet years of talks led by Germany, France and Britain failed to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
We’ve also tried dealing with the problem at the United Nations. But Russia and China are close allies and active trade partners with Iran. They’ve used their Security Council veto power to dilute and delay attempts to impose sanctions.
Iran’s approach is to stall. It aims to tie up the U.S. and others in endless negotiations while its weapons and missile programs progress. If it can avoid sanctions long enough, it can announce itself to be a nuclear power. That’s an alarming prospect, since Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. It would cause a dangerous shift in the planet’s balance of power. We simply can’t allow Tehran to obtain the ultimate terrorist weapon.
The U.S. and our allies can make progress if we stick together and act quickly. In June, a Heritage Foundation special report laid out some steps we’ll need to take to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, and if that fails to mitigate the threat.
First, mobilize an international coalition to contain and deter a nuclear Iran. We’ve got the start of such a coalition, with Britain, France and Germany already on board. But we can’t give China or Russia veto power. They need to recognize the danger of a nuclear Iran and join us in blocking it, or they need to stand down and allow the allies to act.