Obama administration officials are openly stating that they view the continued threat of war as essential to imposing their demands. "You don't achieve diplomatic progress in the Middle East without significant pressure. In Syria, it was the serious threat of military action; in Iran, it was a sanctions regime built up over five years," said US Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes.
Top US analysts, including Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), are arguing that new negotiations with Iran, carried out under the threat of war, are the last chance for a negotiated settlement.
"The moment of truth is coming. All the optics from Tehran -- even from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei -- indicate that Iran is gearing up for another attempt at a nuclear deal. If a deal can't be made in the next few months, it's hard to see another opportunity when the chances would ever be this good again," Clawson wrote in Foreign Policy.
The Obama administration has consistently indicated that if it cannot reach a peaceful settlement with Iran -- i.e., one entirely on US terms -- it will go to war to destroy Iran's capacity to build a nuclear bomb.
US and French officials are at the same time pursuing policies in Syria that will undermine any attempt to seriously negotiate a settlement of the Syrian war in Geneva. The US-backed Islamist opposition militias inside Syria, which desperately sought US military intervention to stave off defeat on the battlefield, have declared that they will boycott the Geneva talks. Nonetheless, Western officials are continuing to step up their military and financial support to the Al Qaeda-linked Syrian opposition.
After US officials declared they would directly arm opposition forces last week, French President Francois Hollande pledged to arm Syrian opposition forces while visiting the French-occupied West African country of Mali on Thursday. He also announced plans to step up French intelligence collaboration with Syrian opposition forces, offering to train them at bases in Jordan.
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