We now seem engaged in another crazy debate about going to war with Iran. We have gone over this issue here before and the vast majority of experts see only disaster if we get involved in another war with a major Middle Eastern nation, particularly when we have other tools to address this potential threat.
One prime super hawk is Ambassador John Bolton, a scholar at the right wing American Enterprise Institute, an advisor to Mitt Romney, and appropriately now a Fox News contributor. Recently he urged an Israeli attack on Iran which he believes is behind the reportedly Hezbollah-run bus bombing operation in Bulgaria.
Media reports from the Romney trip to Israel seem to again indicate his strong bend towards an aggressive stance on Iran. Yet often he simply repeats the Obama Administration’s Iran policies but in a more “belligerent” way. One of Romney’s senior foreign policy advisors, Dan Senor, said before Romney’s own speech in Jerusalem that Romney would support Israel’s right to launch a unilateral military strike against Iran. This act would have disastrous consequences for peace in the region and for any kind of real security for Israel in the aftermath. This matches the Bolton remarks and one must wonder if all of this is not a kind of “wink-wink” charade to have his minions speak irresponsibly of war while Romney himself takes a more careful approach.
Romney himself said in his talk that “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option” which implied that military action was a more likely path and indeed even preemptive action. His full speech is on our blog. Much of it was focused on Iran, and while he did mention the threat of Hezbollah and Hamas, Romney gave little attention to the Middle East peace process, to the Palestinian issues, or the “two state” solution which many of his right wing Jewish and other key backers are hostile towards.
Romney’s implicit promise to move our Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv shows complete ignorance of the subtleties of Middle East diplomacy since we and most of the world do not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem that took place after the 1967 war, and we have said that the boundaries of Israel and a new Palestinian state would be determined in negotiations between the two parties. Our stance on this gives credibility to us being a fair mediator in helping the peace effort. Romney’s visit to Israel gave succor to the Israeli hawks as well as to his own neocon and far right base. But they likely hurt the possibilities of real peace through honest negotiations that can lead to lasting regional stability and real security for Israel in this volatile area.
On the other side of the debate is former National Security Advisor for President Clinton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who on an interview program recently warned against a war with Iran. He said: “A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years…and the economic consequences of it are going to be devastating for the average American.”
Brzezinski also said: “High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene… Can you name me any significant country that’s going to be in that war together on our side?…That’s something no one can afford to ignore,”
I agree with Brzezinski and would go further that such a war would result in so many unintended consequences for both us and our allies that this should be the last option to put on the table. The problem of an initiated war on Iran, without direct and imminent threat, is that it has so many dangerous outcomes as to boggle the mind.
Already there is a build up on both sides of their naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Many military experts believe that both sides would likely suffer major losses and that there would be a serious disruption to the 20% of global traded oil that flows through this area. While we would “prevail” in an armed conflict, the larger cost may not be worth the ancillary and external costs in human lives and loss of our defense assets which could include the death of civilians in an exchange in major weapons fire. Would we really wish to occupy or massively bomb Iran a country of nearly 75 million – the majority of which live in urban areas? Look at Iraq – such action against Iran would be several times that cost. The Obama administration and the EU are tightening its sanctions and the diplomatic “option” is not only still on the table, it is being perused at all levels. These and other options propose less risk and consequences than a major military strike – which would be dangerous for all parties.
We welcome your comments!
For a comparison of Obama and Romney’s views of foreign policy, check out our 2012 Candidate Quotes Page!