Breaking news on an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. in Washington and to attack foreign embassies on American soil and elsewhere. Here are some key readings:
1. The Wall Street Journal on the alleged plot – Informative but a little strong for a first cut and with a gratuitous shot at Republican realists (whom the Journal claims are isolationists).
Note to Journal: Even though there are hardly any – if any – real isolationists in the Republican Party or the US government, you should note that isolationism as commonly understood does not rule out the use of force or a muscular foreign policy when the national interest dictates. It simply means a grand strategy that disdains permanent peacetime alliances, favors the minimal use of force necessary to secure the national interest narrowly defined, and a general norm of non-intervention except in exceptional cases.
3. U.S-Saudi and Saudi-Iranian relations discussed in light of the plot.
My quick late-night but not so thoughtful or well-informed take:
The hawk in me seems to think this, if true, would be a pretty egregious assault on our sovereignty/interests deserving of an assertive – even muscular – response. But how centrally directed was the plot within Iran? Of course, no evidence of central direction does not mean it was not informed by the Iranian regime given it would want plausible deniability. But I wonder how much of this is the administration and neocons at the WSJ pushing a story that we don’t have all the details on yet??? But who knows.
Looking forward to reading more about this tomorrow and hearing analysis from foreign policy experts like Chris Preble at Cato who generally have a healthy dose of skepticism in their work (hence the blog, The Skeptics). But it looks pretty bad right now.
UPDATE, 12:32 Eastern Time: Folks around the internet are asking the kind of things that made me wonder from the beginning if we hadn’t heard the whole story yet — like, why would Iran want to do such a thing given the serious downsides? And, are they really that dumb?