I am extremely troubled by the hawkish rhetoric regarding Iran that has become the party line in the GOP debates during the primary season. The ill-informed message being trumpeted by the Republican candidates is dangerous and overly simplistic, and it has no place in serious policy discussions.

Mitt Romney’s assertion in the Arizona debate that President Barack Obama should communicate to Iran that military options are not just “on the table,” but are, in fact, “in our hand” is no doubt a calculated move meant to drum up support from the Republican base.

This statement, however, demonstrates the failure by the Republican candidates to understand the dynamics of the situation in Iran.

A military solution to the nuclear crisis in Iran will produce neither a quick nor a satisfactory resolution to the issue. At best, Iran’s nuclear program will be set back a few years.

It has not yet been determined that Iran has decided to seek a nuclear weapons program, though it certainly has taken steps to position itself to make such a decision. Currently, all that is certain is that Iran has some civilian nuclear capability, and that program is a point of national pride.

We can be certain that Iran’s decision to develop a nuclear weapon will be much easier as the drum beats for war from the United States and Israel become louder.

The U.S. should continue to focus on isolating Iran internationally, but also remain open to diplomatic engagement between Iran and the P5+1 (U.N. Security Council plus Germany). Bold calls for a military strike against Iran may garner support in the GOP primary; but in the nuanced world of nuclear diplomacy, it reveals only a failure by the GOP candidates to grasp the magnitude and complexity of the situation.

Benjamin Seel