Different ways to communicate

In the old days, a nation-state would send off an emissary resplendent with flags and beating drums to deliver a stern message to one of its peers.

Today, in the case of Iran, a similar message is being sent in an utterly different way, by "a senior administration official" speaking "on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomatic and military situation."

On the front page of The New York Times, this warning was delivered to the erratic mullahs of Iran: "When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it."

While the methods of delivery of such a warning are different, the realities on the ground in the Persian Gulf include new minesweepers to keep open the Straits of Hormuz to sea trade. Additional aircraft capable of striking, should Iran seek a confrontation, are part of the warning.

We hope that the warnings are heeded, and the deployments achieve their purposes without shots being fired. A military confrontation is in no one’s interest, least of all Iran and its neighbors.

International sanctions continue to be pursued against the Iranian nuclear program, but clearly the U.S. government is taking measures that deliver a strong message, whatever the delicacy of the diplomatic and military situation.