Despite the headline to the AP/MSNBC.com article I link to above, the President didn’t “hint at using force”. He very clearly said that force was “on the table” and reminded us that the US had used force recently.
Here’s part of the article:
In a stern warning to Iran, President Bush said “all options are on the table” if the Iranians refuse to comply with international demands to halt their nuclear program, pointedly noting he has already used force to protect U.S. security.
Bush’s statement during an interview on Israeli TV late Friday was unusually harsh. He previously said diplomacy should be used to persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear program and if that failed then the U.N. Security Council should impose sanctions. [emphasis mine]
It shouldn’t take an AP editor to realize that reminding an opponent that force hadn’t been taken off the table is part of diplomacy.
I’m not advocating the use of force against Iran, though as the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq goes on I’m wondering if Iran might not be a more serious threat to things than the Saudis.
Despite what the anti-war and anti-Bush crowd is going to make of this statement, it was the right thing to say. Even if we have no intention of actually using force against Iran. In fact, especially if we have no intention of using force against Iran. To publicly declare that the use of force is an option that has been taken off the table is advertising that you are not serious. (Unless, of course, you are intentionally lying in an attempt to mislead your opponent. That’s a strategy that’s very dangerous and, though I’m not necessarily opposed to using it, I don’t think we’ve reached that bridge yet.)