While the early Davoisie arrivals were sipping their carbon-neutral San Pellegrino and munching on organic canapés, another conference was taking place elsewhere in the world. No, it wasn't the World Social Forum, a.k.a the anti-Davos assembly being held in Nairobi, Kenya. It was another sort of thing entirely: a seventh annual high-level Israeli security meeting in the Mediterranean resort town of Herzliya. Judging by the sound bytes I'm reading, you could call it the Bomb Iran conference. U.S. government officials as high as Gordon England and Nick Burns were in attendance. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was also there, as were his rivals John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Romney went for a strained historical analogy:
I believe that Iran's leaders and ambitions represent the greatest threat to the world since the fall of the Soviet Union and before that Nazi Germany."
Expect more of this over-the-top rhetoric from both sides of the aisle. What to do about Iran is going to dominate the American debate from now until 2008, and beyond. In President Bush's speech last night, he stressed again the consequences of failure in Iraq, warning that a U.S. defeat could embolden a dangerous Iran. So it's timely that for this week's Seven Questions, FP spoke with Dr. Ali Ansari, an expert on Iran at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, about the Bush administration's policy toward that country (Iran, not Scotland). Check it out.
See also this week's List: Regime Change. It may surprise you to know that Iran makes the list of countries with tottering leaders.