I first learned about the call for military action against Iran in July 2009 when John Bolton appeared on The Daily Show. Bolton advocated for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In March of this year, Obama gave a speech about American-Israeli relations at AIPAC. That speech contained the following passage within a longer description of his policy toward Iran (emphasis added).
I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.
Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.
During the Republican presidential primary, the major Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, competed with each other to see who could sound the most militaristic about Iran.
Zbigniew Brezinski, who served as a national security advisor to President Carter, told The Real News that he believed an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities could draw the US into a war with Iran. The New York Times reported that a classified war simulation by the US military found that an Israeli strike on Iran could lead to a wider regional war that could draw in the United States.
A war with Iran would be disastrous. There can be no doubt to the outcome of a war with a country in the Middle East where there is little support for the United States. We just finished one in Iraq.
The Iraq War lasted 8 years and 9 months and resulted in the deaths of 4,486 American soldiers. The war also brought about the deaths of 318 soldiers of our allies. Iraq Body Count documented that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians died during the Iraq War, a war that caused an entire country to collapse into total chaos for a number of years.
This fate is not a certainty should the US or Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it is a possibility. And it is a possibility that should be avoided at all costs. The US should not attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and should strongly urge Israel to refrain from an attack as well.
It is also very likely that diplomacy could resolve the nuclear issue. US intelligence agencies do not believe that Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon. In January, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told Congress that there was no evidence that Iran had made a decision to create a nuclear weapon, but that it was keeping its options open.
Trita Parsi, the author of A Single Role of the Dice, a book about Obama’s diplomacy with Iran, spoke with The Daily Show in March 2012. He discussed a plan for Iran to send Low Enriched Uranium abroad and in return receive fuel pads that they could use to develop Uranium for cancer treatment. The Enrichment level of the fuel pads, however, would not be high enough to use to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran rejected this proposal in 2009. Turkey and Brazil got Iran to agree to the deal in May 2010, but the US refused to sign on because it had just obtained approval from Russia and China for more economic sanctions against Iran. Both the US and Iran have agreed to this plan in the past, albeit at different times. It is wholly possible that the current round of diplomatic negotiations could succeed in achieving it.