An unusually jingoistic article appeared today at the CFR website which you can read here..
I replied to the article on the CFR site and I have copied that resposne here as well.
“In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. “
Which is a bit pat and a sloppy attempt at disinformation.
“Iran denied the charges …”
Of course they did, because it isn’t true.
“… but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran.”
Which was the point, right?
“Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.”
This scenario would place the usg in a position in which it must treat the IRI as an equal in the sphere of influence covering that region. Presently, usg has an advantage over the IRI and wants to keep it, imo.
“A nuclear Iran would impose a huge burden on the United States. But that does not necessarily mean that Washington should resort to military means. In deciding whether it should, the first question to answer is if an attack on Iran’s nuclear program could even work.”
While it is uncomfortable to bring up past failures and mistakes, one must do so if we are to learn from our mistakes. I can pile on with numerous examples, but one or two should suffice. Son Tay Prison raid. Desert One. The history of military operations suggests any such “strike” on Iran would have a non-negligible risk of failure.
“And given the amount of time it takes to construct and activate a nuclear facility, the scarcity of Iran’s resources, and its failure to hide the facilities in Natanz and Qom successfully, it is unlikely that Tehran has any significant operational nuclear facilities still unknown to Western intelligence agencies.”
Again, not a happy fact, but “there were no POWs remaining at the conclusion of Operation Homecoming”. So, based on past performance, I seriously doubt usg can have any real confidence in that statement.
“Although Iran would undoubtedly publicize any human suffering in the wake of a military action, the majority of the victims would be the military personnel, engineers, scientists, and technicians working at the facilities“
Again, past performance indicates otherwise and I doubt this conclusion.
“… Especially Saudi Arabia, have urged the United States to attack Iran, they would likely cooperate.”
Anyone familiar with the history of Arab – Persian relations would not be surprised by that conclusion.
“Even if the United States managed to eliminate Iran’s nuclear facilities and mitigate the consequences, the effects might not last long. Sure enough, there is no guarantee that an assault would deter Iran from attempting to rebuild its plants … “
I think this conclusion is trivially obtained. What good is an attack on Iran going to do unless it is an invasion which unseats the existing regime? I would submit that any military action of any lesser sort would not eliminate the underlying problem and would simply backfire.
Examining this honestly, if usg wants to maintain an advantage in the Middle Eastern theater it will have to assert an increasingly unfair advantage over the IRI in light of the nuclear development work potentially going on in Iran. Therefore, simply accepting the IRI’s status as a nuclear power would not work as it would force usg into an “equal standing” with the IRI in the IRI’s regional sphere of influence; and that would constitute a step backward for usg.
In order for usg to pursue a geopolitical goal of unifying this region in the near future it must maintain the unfair advantage mentioned above. Iran is not Iraq. A full conflict with Iran would be extremely costly. Unfortunately, cleverly crafted fundamental law to unite the sovereign powers in that region was not put in place by our political leaders in the recent past, so we are left with the barbaric option set. A most propitious time to have done that would have been right around the time the State of Israel was created. So, an honest analysis is that the concern for usg (and the State of Israel, for that matter) isn’t that the IRI will use nuclear weapons. Everyone knows that is a fantasy. Rather, the concern is the loss of the unfair advantage.
usg has two choices, imo. And it is indeed a false choice.
It can restructure its global rule of law strategy, if it has one, and put forth a proposal that is transparent, public and designed to accommodate the full breadth of world opinion. It could then place that in front of the IRI and invite them to join a common federation in the region; a move that could gain concessions on the issues of concern for usg in the Middle East (such that usg influence in the region is not diminished as a result).
The other option is an unrestricted, strategic conflict with Iran whose end goal would be to forcefully remove the existing regime and install another; which should then be federated in any case.
I prefer the former. It should have been done 50 years ago. To continue to delay is gross negligence.