John Podhoretz, the editor of the neoconservative Commentary Magazine, had this to say yesterday about Obama’s approach to Iran (via the Corner):
Nothing would both surprise me, please me, and make me revisit a great deal of my thinking over the last couple of years, than if Barack Obama chooses to strike the Iranian nuclear program. I would revisit most of what I think about his foreign policy and his approach to the world. But that the United States would take military action against Iran – that seems almost science fictional to me at this point.
He goes on with the usual bit about “Ahmadinejad is a nutty guy who wants to nuke Israel to bring about the Messiah, etc.” But here’s what I find really interesting: he seems to be unfazed by the cognitive dissonance surrounding the idea that we should start a war with Iran that would generate a large-scale counterattack (likely aimed at Israel) in order to support Israel herself.
He says it explicitly: if Israel were to strike Iran, it would trigger a counterattack that could claim the lives of thousands of Israelis. Given that Iran’s defense plans most certainly call for activating its Hezboallah proxies, and given that Hezboallah’s primary target is Israel — why does Podhoretz think Iran’s plans still wouldn’t call for that same counterattack if it’s the US instead of Israel that drops the bombs?
The fact is, a war with Iran would cause an enormous amount of hardship, instability, and loss of life for the state of Israel, regardless of whether it’s the US or Israel that starts it. So why is Podhoretz in such a rush to bring that about?
I often wonder why commentators like Podhoretz aren’t more frequently labeled anti-military or anti-Israel. Because nothing is more certain to take a disastrous toll on the lives of American troops and Israeli civilians than an unjustified military attack on Iran.
(To say nothing of the devastation to innocent Iranian civilians that comes with dropping a bomb on a facility that houses tons of radioactive material. It’s not often said, but an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites would be the second time in history a radiological attack was carried out against civilians — the first being Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
I assume there are those who would take issue with my premise by saying the US should take the initiative precisely because it could attack Iran in such a devastating fashion as to neutralize Iran’s retaliatory capabilities. But that argument doesn’t hold up, since unconventional forces like Hezboallah are already in place in the Levant, and unless we’re prepared to open up two fronts in this war against Iran (on top of the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts that we’re already deeply committed to), then Iran’s proxies would be immune from an American preemptive strike.
So I ask again: if prominent commentators like John Podhoretz truly support the military and Israel, then why do they so zealously advocate for what could be the most costly decision of the 21st Century for both?