August 7, 2009

There is a military option on Iran — and it stinks

This came to us from an Iran analyst that we work closely with here in DC:
Included in today’s Wall Street Journal is an op-ed from Gen. Chuck Wald (U.S. Air Force four-star, retired) arguing for serious consideration of military action against Iran if diplomacy fails.
The crux of the general’s argument is below:

“Of course, there are huge risks to military action: U.S. and allied casualties; rallying Iranians around an unstable and oppressive regime; Iranian reprisals be they direct or by proxy against us and our allies; and Iranian-instigated unrest in the Persian Gulf states, first and foremost in Iraq.
Furthermore, while a successful bombing campaign would set back Iranian nuclear development, Iran would undoubtedly retain its nuclear knowhow. An attack would also necessitate years of continued vigilance, both to retain the ability to strike previously undiscovered sites and to ensure that Iran does not revive its nuclear program.
But the risks of military action must be weighed against those of doing nothing. If the Iranian regime continues to advance its nuclear program despite the best efforts of Mr. Obama and other world leaders, we risk Iranian domination of the oil-rich Persian Gulf, threats to U.S.-allied Arab regimes, the emboldening of radicals in the region, the creation of an existential threat to Israel, the destabilization of Iraq, the shutdown of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and a regional nuclear-arms race. “

So basically a US attack on Iran would destroy the reformist movement in Iran, strengthen the regime internally, and cause it to strike our allies (including Israel, which the general manages not to name).   Also the general fails to mention that a US attack on Iran would most likely cause the regime to make the political decision to pursue nuclear weapons (something all intelligence agencies have said they have not done).
General Wald also does not explain how “doing nothing” will cause the peace process to stop, but striking Iran will not harm the peace process (even though in his words Iran would instigate instability in the region and strike our allies).
Further, General Wald admits that a military strike would not result in an actual loss of any nuclear know how (nor the destruction of any unknown nuclear sites), which means military strike would not cripple Iran’s nuclear program.  Thus, many in the US would argue that the only way to end Iran’s nuclear program would be by a military invasion (since obviously the regime would not want to negotiate right after being attacked).
All in all, it seems like a US attack on Iran is a pretty poor option indeed.

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