Potential US attack on Iran

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There is persistent discussion of a possible United States attack on Iran.

The pro-attack argument seems to be, as explained here:

  • Iran is an oppressive, totalitarian regime with Islamofascist values we do not want to see spread at all, much less throughout the world.
  • Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, despite their claims that their nuclear program is entirely for nuclear power.
  • Once they have developed nuclear weapons, they will be in a position to "start exercising its Islamic agenda and dominance across the Middle East and throughout the world".
  • Therefore, we must stop their nuclear program at any cost.

The obvious counters to this:

  • When has a pre-emptive strike ever been a good idea? (Any historical examples?)
  • A pre-emptive strike could start a conflagration which could do tremendous physical harm, eclipsing even the long-term physical harm which might be done by the resulting hypothetical accelerated spread of Islam.
  • A pre-emptive strike would inflame the Islamic world, driving yet more otherwise-neutrals into the arms of the terrorists (as the US invasion of Iraq has done)
  • There are better ways to fight the spread of Islam, even though neocons have done their best to pretend they don't exist. Carefully-engineered regime change within Iran would be more likely to have a good effect. After all, we toppled the former democratic government and put the current one in place; surely we can do the reverse.
  • At the very least, even if you insist that all these objections are outweighed by the urgency of the matter, George W. Bush is not the leader who can do this properly. This is likely to be another fiasco like Iraq, with more unaccounted-for billions of dollars spilling into the desert for the enemy to find and use against us.
  • Most recently, the National Intelligence Assessment has concluded that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program since 2003, once again undermining Bush's claims that Iran is a threat.

Additional counters:

  • If we need to attack Iran to defend ourselves, then was the $5 trillion (1950 dollars) nuclear deterrent a waste of money? [1]
  • We have yet to see a good case that Iran is even a repressive regime. Wouldn't the pro-war people be focusing more on this, if it actually is true?



Filed Links

  1. redirect template:links/smw




Political Viewpoints

  • George W. Bush, 2005-08-13 (answering reporter's question "Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about how you have diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike?"): "All options are on the table."
  • 2008 presidential candidates:
    • Barack Obama, 2007-02-11 (responding to the question "Would you advocate the use of military force to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?") "I think we should keep all options on the table..."
    • John Edwards: "All options must remain on the table in regards to dealing with Iran, whose nuclear ambition threatens the security of Israel and the entire world."
    • Hillary Clinton: "We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."


From Contrary Brin [2]:

Russ Daggatt said:
These people really, truly are insane. The same Joshua Muravchik (a “resident scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute) quoted above has an op-ed piece in the LA Times titled simply and honestly "Bomb Iran". Among the insights of this 'scholar":
"WE MUST bomb Iran . ... wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse. ... Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him."

This crazy man, who is getting ink in Foreign Policy and the op-ed page of the LA Times, doesn’t even seem to be aware that the president of Iran, far from being a dictator, isn’t even particularly powerful in that government. As Scott Ritter notes in the New Republic ("The Case for Engagement"):

"For all the attention the Western media give to Ahmadinejad's foreign policy pronouncements, the reality is that his effective influence is limited to domestic issues. The citizens of Tehran I spoke with, from every walk of life, understood this and were genuinely perplexed as to why we in the West treat Ahmadinejad as if he were a genuine head of state.
"The man has no real power," a former Revolutionary Guard member told me. "The true power in Iran resides with the Supreme Leader." The real authority is indeed the Ayatollah Sayeed Ali Khamenei, successor to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini."

More than two-thirds of the population of Iran is under 30. Unlike North Korea or Iraq under Saddam, the people of Iran are not isolated from the rest of the world. Iranian youth, in particular, are quite Westernized. Before Bush deemed Iran part of the "Axis of Evil" (a watershed event in the relations between the US and Iran) reformers were on the ascendancy in Iran.

After teetering for years and almost toppling before liberalizing pressure, the hardliners have benefited from Bush’s blunders and belligerence (even in our country, people tilt toward the hardliners when they feel threatened by external forces). Unless we do more really stupid things, like bombing Iran, it is probably just a matter of time before the clerics lose power.

As the Washington Post reported last June:

"Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
"But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said. ..."

Think of it this way. Bush will have squandered thousands of American lives and a trillion dollars, destroying US military readiness in the process, in order to take out Iran's two main rivals, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. AND HE GOT NOTHING FROM IRAN IN RETURN!

In addition to making Iran the dominant power in the region, he managed to undermine the reformers in that country. AND actually made our relationship with Iran WORSE. Now THAT is diplomatic skill! Potential US attack on Iran/excerpt