If the US has a next military debacle on the scale of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it will likely be a war with Iran. Since John McCain and Mitt Romney have both advocated bombing Iran, it is easy to assume that if Republicans had gained control of the White House in 2008 or 2012 that we would already be at war with them.
Nevertheless, Barack Obama is president, and he does not want war with Iran. Throughout his presidency, he has repeatedly advocated diplomacy and stated that war would only be a last resort.
Should a war with Iran occur, it would be a disaster. Considering the quagmire in Iraq, it should be noted that Iran is over twice the size of Iraq and has more than double the population. Iran also has a military that is more capable than any country the US has fought since World War II. Even the more limited approach of avoiding full-scale invasion but using surgical airstrikes to nuclear enrichment facilities has been widely criticized as an ineffective and dangerous option. As the New York Times Editorial Board stated in an op-ed today, “Bombing Iran might delay the nuclear program for a couple of years but it wouldn’t eradicate it, and the blowback — provoking Iran to speed up production of a nuclear weapon, fueling regional tensions — would be severe.”
With this in mind, it is very troubling that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is perhaps the most vocal advocate for war with Iran on the world stage, continues to push blatant falsehoods about the county’s nuclear program and the ongoing efforts to reach a diplomatic solution. As reported by the AP earlier today, Netanyahu stated that world powers ‘have given up’ on stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This is simply not true. In reality, the six permanent members of the UN Security Council are on the verge of a historic agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The New York Times reports:
The United States and its partners (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) have properly focused in the negotiations on curbing Iran’s activities, especially uranium enrichment for weapon purposes. They are trying to structure the agreement so they would know at least a year in advance if Iran moved to speed up its program to build a nuclear bomb. That would allow plenty of time to re-impose sanctions, interrupt the program through cyberwarfare or take military action.
Today’s statement from Netanyahu is far from the first time he has pushed misinformation about the country’s nuclear ambitions. In a stunning revelation earlier this week, leaked intelligence documents show that around the same time Netanyahu famously stood before the UN equipped with a cartoonish bomb-shaped graph claiming Iran was close to acquiring nukes, that even Israel’s own intelligence agency was internally reporting that is was not the case. From Al Jazeera:
Less than a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 warning to the UN General Assembly that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon”, Israel’s intelligence service believed that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”.
A secret cable obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit reveals that Mossad sent a top-secret cable to South Africa on October 22, 2012, that laid out a “bottom line” assessment of Iran’s nuclear work.
It appears to contradict the picture painted by Netanyahu of Tehran racing towards acquisition of a nuclear bomb.
If there is one thing that the US should have learned from the debacle in Iraq, it is that we should not be goaded into military action by war hawks grandstanding before the UN with ridiculous props in hand.