Back at the beginning of 2006, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) made waves in Washington by predicting that the United States could ultimately have to choose between allowing Iran to go nuclear and taking military action to stop it. Pretty much every year since then, someone’s New Year’s forecast has had that fateful choice finally coming before the president.
For seven years, it hasn’t happened. But will 2013 be different?
The conventional wisdom I’ve heard from diplomats in Washington this month says probably not. Most likely, it goes, next year will look like previous years: Negotiations will limp along inconclusively. Iran will make incremental progress on uranium enrichment, while stopping short of steps that would provoke a U.S. or Israeli attack.
But there’s a good case to be made that next year will finally bring a break in the Iranian standoff — by means of a military confrontation, the appearance of an Iranian bomb or a diplomatic deal of some kind. And interestingly, one of the people making that case is President Obama’s first-term adviser on Iran, Dennis Ross, who has worked on the Middle East in five administrations.