Drumbeat for military action on Iran

 In Iran

Last week, Republicans introduced H.R. 1553, a resolution that would provide support for Israel to use “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” Almost a third of House Republicans are co-sponsoring the measure, and their motives, in light of a resurgent drumbeat for war with Iran, seem patently sinister.

But Gohemert’s resolution may be an unprecedented development–Congress has never endorsed pre-emptive military strikes by a foreign country.  What’s more, this is the minority party signaling to Israel that they can count on Republican support should the President object to Israeli strikes on Iran–as did George W. Bush in 2008.  The resolution also explicitly endorses “any means necessary”, a carte blanche for the use of nuclear bunker-busting bombs.

But by encouraging such an attack, supporters of war are effectively working to circumvent the President and his military leadership, who have warned in dire terms against military action in Iran, and instead goading a third country into launching the first strike. Once the bombing campaign has commenced, the authors of this resolution may believe, the US would have few choices but be dragged into war.

In fact, this measure is no small part of a neoconservative agenda to go to war with Iran. The green light resolution is precisely what John Bolton called for two weeks ago in a Wall Street Journal piece that reads as a playbook for dragging the US into military conflict with Iran.

As Marc Lynch from Foreign Policy magazine notes, “There’s been a mini-boomlet of late in arguments to put a military strike against Iran back on the table.”

There’s a marginal poll showing 56% support for an Israeli strike on Iran (actually quite a low number, given the general enthusiasm of Americans for bombing things). There are Israeli reports that it has convinced the U.S. of the viability of a military option. There’s Reuel Gerecht’s long brief for military action in the Weekly Standard. There’s yet another Washington Post op-ed arguing for brandishing a military threat. This is odd. The argument for a military strike is no stronger now than it has been in the past — and in many ways it is considerably weaker.

The latest chorus of support for military action includes former CIA Director Michael Hayden. Though a military strike was “way down” on his list of possible options during his reign under President George W. Bush, in his most recent interview with CNN, Hayden essentially said that military action wouldn’t be so bad:

“I have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed similar views during a Q&A session last Monday.

We still believe that it’s still time for sanctions but it will not be there forever. We recommended to friends and to colleagues all around the world not to remove any option from the table and we mean it.

In his piece for Time magazine, titled An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table”, Joe Klein points out the obvious – that war with Iran is a bad idea.

Most senior military leaders also believe Gates got it right the first time — even a targeted attack on Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It would unify the Iranian people against the latest in a long series of foreign interventions. It would also unify much of the world — including countries like Russia and China that we’ve worked hard to cultivate — against a recowboyfied U.S. There would certainly be an Iranian reaction — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, by Lebanese Hizballah against Israel and by the Hizballah network against the U.S. and Saudi homelands. A catastrophic regional war is not impossible.

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