Encouraging Israel to bomb Iran: A really bad idea

 In Iran

Conservative politicians and pundits have been working to normalize the idea of military strikes on Iran. The newest ploy is to help open the way for an Israeli strike. If Israel did attack Iran, the US would inevitably be drawn in.

The National Iranian American Council describes the “neoconservatives agenda” that would force the US into its third war in the Middle East:

Late last week, Republicans in the House or Representatives unveiled H.Res.1553, a resolution providing explicit support for an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and forty-six of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force”.

…While Democrats continue to tout newly imposed “crippling” sanctions as evidence of their commitment to pressure, Republicans appear to be moving on to the next phase and are openly endorsing an Israeli strike. Gohmert even argued that instead of sanctions, Congress should have passed his resolution green-lighting military strikes on Iran.

…[Supporters] are playing games with US national security and could provoke the US into a third war in the Middle East.

Another war in this region would generate a new humanitarian crisis in a volatile region already overwhelmed with war, and the human and financial cost astronomical. It’s an unthinkable prospect, despite the rising chorus of voices insisting it’s not just conceivable but doable.

Patrick Barry of Democracy Arsenal notes that the US “bomb, bomb Iran” crowd turned to Israel after failing to “persuade anyone to support a U.S. military strike on Iran.” He sums-up the severe consequences of military action with 3 reasons why bombing Iran is a bad idea:

Iran’s asymmetric response: Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former Bush administration Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, offered the Senate Foreign Relations Committee grim summation of how Iran might respond to an attack: “Air strikes would undoubtedly lead Iran to hit back asymmetrically against us in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider region, especially through its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. This reminds us of Churchill’s maxim that, once a war starts, it is impossible to know how it will end.”

Inability to eliminate nuclear program:  A military strike would not substantially set back Iran’s nuclear program, and may even incentivize Iran to build a weapon. In February, Brookings Institution Fellows Michael O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel wrote, “even a massive strike would not slow Iran’s progress towards a bomb for long. We cannot be sure we know where all existing Iranian facilities to enrich uranium are located – as the revelation of yet another previously unknown site near Qom last year reminded us.” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl took this a step further, suggesting that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities might “incentivize the Iranians to go all the way to weaponize.”

Consequences for Iran’s opposition movement: Fareed Zakaria recently cited noted Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji, who wrote: “Even entertaining the possibility of a military strike, especially when predicated on the nuclear issue is beneficial to the fundamentalists who rule Iran.  As such, the idea itself is detrimental to the democratic movement in my country.”  Similarly, when he was CENTCOM commander, General David Petraeus warned that the military option risks unleashing a popular backlash that would play into the hands of the regime.  “There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment,” said Petraeus. “So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike),” he added.

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