by Patricia Kushlis, Cheryl Rofer, Patricia Lee Sharpe, and Linda Durham
Don’t Bomb Iran
Bombing is wrong and would be counterproductive
Credible news reports indicate that the Bush administration is planning for a bombing campaign against Iran, possibly including nuclear strikes. However, nuclear weapons experts believe that Iran will need at least three years to develop nuclear weapons and more likely five to ten years. There is no imminent danger.
Iran has admitted to past violations, but current evidence suggests that Iran is in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. An attack with conventional weapons would attract few or no allies and result in diminished non-military power for the US. First use of nuclear weapons, by the only country to have used them before, would put the US in major breach of longstanding international norms. America would become a pariah, a rogue nation, condemned and isolated by all.
Such strikes would be impractical as well as wrong. Military strategists have suggested that the US could avoid counterattacks from a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if attacks on Iran's retaliatory capacity were launched simultaneously. Others believe that popular support for the Islamic Republic would crumble under such stress. They are mistaken.
Iran is not Iraq. It is more populous and intensely nationalistic. Despite strong political differences among Iranians, bombing Iran would generate a unifying patriotic response. The Ahmadinejad regime would be strengthened, and consequences for US policy throughout the Muslim world would be severe. Even crippled by air strikes, Iran could worsen the situation in Iraq and launch terrorist attacks on Israel by mobilizing Hezbollah and others. Unilateral US attacks on Iran might also cause turmoil in Middle Eastern oil fields, especially in Saudi Arabia, whose wells are located in heavily Shiite regions, and would enrage Shiite communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere. Demagogues would preach that the long expected US-led crusade had begun. The US would not be safer.
There is a better way to create a safe world. Iran, the modern seat of an ancient civilization, wishes to be respected in a world where leadership seems open mostly to nuclear powers. Iran must understand that bluster and threat won't lead to a place at the table. The US must also understand that bluster and threat won't stop nuclear proliferation. Multi-party negotiations with Iran are already under way, but the US should expand its Iraq-centered consultations into broader bilateral and regional security talks. Dealing wisely and patiently with the Iran situation will go far to restore the moral and intellectual leadership of US. Through cooperation, not fear, America can achieve a safer, stabler world and a more lasting peace.
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