Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Two Wars are Not Enough

The drums of war are pounding for an attack on Iran. Iranian nuclear capabilities are an existential threat to Israel and must be stopped, say the warriors. Sanctions have failed! We must act now before it's too late! War plans are openly discussed. The atmosphere reminds me a lot of 2002-03 when Americans were stampeded to war in Iraq. Remember that one? Cakewalk, they said.

When it comes to Iran, though, war will be no cakewalk. The consequences will be as devastating as were the past nine years of American military interventions in that unstable region. An attack on Iran will not only solidify a strongly nationalist people behind their government, it will also give cause for militants around the world to attack Americans. I am dumbfounded that national leaders consider an armed attack to be a legitimate act. Or that think the results will be any different this time.

That's why Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett's "The Weak Case for War with Iran" is a good antidote to the Guns of August 2010. Their analysis presents the existential threat not in terms of nuclear annihilation but instead the loss of Israeli military autonomy which the Leveretts note is itself a source of instability. I especially like their alternative to war.
Regarding Iran, what constitutes "greatness" for Obama? Clearly, Obama will not achieve greatness by acquiescing to another fraudulently advocated and strategically damaging war in the Middle East. He could, however, achieve greatness by doing with Iran what Richard Nixon did with Egypt and China -- realigning previously antagonistic relations with important countries in ways that continue serving the interests of America and its allies more than three decades later.

America could use some of that kind of greatness.


When they describe the attack on Iran as a precision, surgigal strike, just remember that precision operations don't always work.

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