November 4, 2011

Green lighting war is a great way to convince Iran to get the bomb

This morning, amidst the buzz of threats of war with Iran coming out of Israel and the UK, a resolution green-lighting an Israeli military strike on Iran picked up 15 new supporters in the House of Representatives.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), sends a dangerous signal to Israel and Iran and undermines the U.S. President’s ability to try to prevent a potential strike that would drag the U.S. into a catastrophic war.
In the same vain, Gohmert’s fellow Texan, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry, told CNN last night that he would back a preemptive strike by Israel against Iran even if it sparked a war in the region.  Such inflammatory rhetoric a convenient way to put the sitting President in a box when Perry doesn’t have the burden of actually putting his money where his mouth is.
Regardless of the hype–particularly the spin we will hear next week when a new IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program is released–the fact remains that the U.S. intelligence community continues to assess that Iran has NOT made the decision to pursue a nuclear weapon.
In a public Senate hearing earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence affirmed this yet again:

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI):  ..I read into that that Iran had not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program.  Is that correct?
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:  Yes Sir…
Levin:  Okay, but what is the level of confidence that you have that as of this time they have not decided to restart that program? Is that I high level of confidence?
Mr. Clapper:  Yes, it is.

So perhaps we should be working to convince Iran not to make a decision, right?  Threats of war, or an actual attack on Iran, do the precisely the opposite.
Yet for some, like Gohmert and Perry, the threats are good politics.  For others the war threats build pressure for more sanctions.  And in Iran, the threats of war play well for hardliners seeking to rally a divided population by pointing to external threats.
So it seems like everyone has an ulterior motive for ratcheting up dangerous tensions with Iran.  But in the end, the vicious cycle of dangerous flirtations with war do nothing to actually prevent a nuclear weapons capable Iran–they only make it more likely.

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