Wednesday, March 25, 2015

With Iran, All Options Don't Need to Be on the Table

The Ayatollah Khamanei: More dangerous than Lindsey Graham? Not to us.

It's funny how phrases get stuck on automatic. One such is "all options are on the table." American politicians -- and even diplomats who don't prefer war -- use it, but only with foreign powers that can't existentially harm our interests. There are bizarre exceptions. All options are not on the table with North Korea, for example. Are we even vaguely ready to go to war with Kim Jong Un? Hardly. His bark is worse than his bite. It gets weird when we talk of bombing Iran when a tin-hat dictator north of the 54th parallel is the one with the nukes.

It's possible that Kim would go off the rails and try to start WWIII, but it's more likely that his bodyguards would put a cap in him than let him move ahead with such a national suicide. Of course that's just my opinion, but please run the thought experiments through your own brain and decide how many inner-circle North Koreans want to wake up south of Kim's desire to take on the U.S. in any ultimate way.

The same goes for Iran with a major exception: Iran, in its current political configuration, can work a terrific amount of mischief in the region without directly challenging the U.S. existentially. Iran causes no end of headaches for Israel, which it has managed to live with, as Hamas and Hezbollah are more gadflies than existential threats. And heaven knows Israel has caused much death and destruction in Gaza and Lebanon as a result. Nobody looks good over there.

But Iran will never directly threaten Israel in any concrete way, even if it had ten nuclear bombs on missiles ready to fire in ten minutes, for the simple reason that it would no longer exist with any of its aspirations intact. It would be decimated within hours, full stop.

Our goal with Iran is to manage the long-term benefits of upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime that stabilizes the world short of widespread nuclear disaster more than it is to keep Iran from getting the bomb. It's bad enough we lost India, Pakistan, and North Korea for what are complex and varied reasons. Iran is one too many, and serious dominoes might and probably would fall. And please recall that we "allowed" Israel to gain nuclear-weapons capability because it suited our purposes. Other regimes notice this kind of American duplicity and don't forget.

But would we take that last option, military attack, simply to preemptively stop an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability? I doubt it. There is an exception, and that's if Israel started the attack, and we came in to help finish it if for no other reason than to maintain stability in the attack's aftermath.

Only maniacs would welcome that broader and more dangerous war. It's John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the bellicose subset of American politicians, quite nearly to a person members of the Republican Party, who call out the loudest, who demand ever more defense spending, and whose friends in the defense industry would welcome yet another conflagration. Do they deserve to be called maniacs. Yes, they do.

Back on planet Earth, there is a way to reign in Iran. It's through painstaking negotiations that bring Iran slowly back into the community of non-bellicose nations who understand their economic self-interests lie in peaceful pursuits and not endless war. Iran is a nation that, while threatening our interests in the past, is developed enough to see its interests intersecting with ours.

Forget the warmongers. Barack Obama and the rest of the rationalists are on to something. It's diplomacy, and it should be used to the fullest. With Iran, it's actually our only sensible option, irrespective of the flapping gums of America's gunslingers and their Israeli counterparts.

A two-man war caucus. One a JAG officer and the other a specialist in crashing planes.

Note. Fine, John McCain deserved his war-hero status, in spite of the crashed planes. But does that mean he gets to call for endless war over and over again? Should America continue its series of crashed wars? After all, we didn't win in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Our adventures in Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and other Arab Spring fiascoes aren't going so well, either. The only thing that has gone well is the health of the defense industry. (See Eisenhower, Dwight D. for his impressions of why that is.) And don't forget, our Iraq misadventure birthed ISIS, without question.

No comments:

Post a Comment