Responding to Iran: Two Opposing Views

Ian Mitroff
2 min readApr 17, 2024

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

Thomas L. Friedman and Bret Stephens couldn’t be more at odds in responding to Iran’s recent attack against Israel[i].

For Friedman, the correct response to Iran’s bombing of Israel in retaliation for the killing seven Iranians in its Embassy in Damascus is that there needs to be a “massive, sustained, global initiative to isolate Iran — not only to deter it from trying such an adventure again but also to give reason to Israel not to automatically retaliate militarily. That would be a grievous error too.”

For Stephens, the opposite holds:

“…As a matter of self-defense, Israel has every moral and legal right to respond in kind and then some. It is not enough for Israel to demonstrate its capacity for defense, as it did over the weekend. It must also re-establish its capacity for deterrence. That is, it needs to show Iran’s leaders that the price for bringing their war against Israel out of the shadows will be unbearably high, and therefore not to be repeated.”

While I naturally favor Friedman’s call for a massive, sustained Global Initiative to isolate Iran, I’m moved nonetheless by Stephens’ forceful call for revenge and retaliation by Israel.

In the end, I’m left with the overwhelming feeling that things will only get worse, not better.


In the past, I’ve criticized numerous writers for being Naïve in their recommendations with regard to National and International Peace. I need to own up to my own Naivete.

If for the most part, academics who are supposedly well-educated can’t think and act Systemically, why should we expect ordinary Citizens to do better?

It’s so much easier to criticize others than to own up to one’s own mistakes.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.


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