RP US Attacks on Iran are not the Answer

RP US Attacks on Iran are not the Answer

Only Diplomacy can yield Lasting Solutions.

John Adams and Ted Downing

In the Arizona Republic

Published Sat. 12 April 2008

With the departure of Admiral Fox Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command and reputed voice of reason in policy discussions on Iran, the danger of another pre-emptive U.S. attack looms urgently.

American attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities could risk all-out war throughout the Mideast.

This is the greatest fear of most of our allies worldwide. It should be ours as well. We must insist on thorough, decisive and immediate diplomatic solutions.

Until a few months ago, some in the U.S. policy community considered military action against Iran reasonable.

A previously unpublished National Intelligence Estimate, released Dec. 3, reported no credible evidence to support the idea that Iran might be developing a nuclear bomb.

Tehran halted its nuclear enrichment program in 2003 and, as of the middle of 2006, had not restarted it.

Unquestionably, some of Iran’s behavior is contrary to U.S. and international interests.

Most of the world has grave concern about potential Iranian development of a nuclear weapon.

Nevertheless, war with Iran would be a senseless way to resolve our differences.

It is time to be honest with the American people and share the potential consequences.

An Iranian conflict would place all of America’s interests in the region at great risk.

With nearly three times the population of Iraq – 70 million people – Iran presents infinitely more problems for our military operations than does Iraq.

Our overstretched armed forces would be at increased risk if we were at war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

Iran will not allow itself to be bombed without retaliation, and it has had years to prepare its defensive strategy.

Retaliation could include more aggression in the Middle East or kidnapping of our citizens – some may remember 1979.

Consider the regional consequences of a so-called “surgical strike” on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

It would require thousands of air sorties just to strike Iran’s far-flung air and naval facilities, not to mention a massive effort to secure the Straits of Hormuz and Gulf oil facilities. And any nuclear program could resume as soon as the smoke cleared.

In Iraq, our troops would have to prepare for retaliation.

Hamas and Hezbollah actions would be unleashed in Israel and Lebanon, and enraged Muslim populations would attack anyone seen as allied with America in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

All of these risks must be fully disclosed, discussed and assessed openly and, most important, our congressional representatives must maintain their right to make any decision to attack Iran.

Our diplomatic relationship with Iran is central to improving the security structure in the Middle East and is critical to our global influence as well.

Iran can provide the security arrangements that can help the U.S. coordinate a safe and honorable withdrawal from Iraq.

Continuing to view Iran as an adversary that must be contained or pressured will only delay this process.

Conversely, America can provide the one thing that the Iran regime desires most, i.e. legitimacy and reintegration into the world community. Only effective and informed diplomacy can yield a peaceful and permanent solution to these problems.

John Adams is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and doctoral student of political science at the University of Arizona. Ted Downing, former state legislator, is a University of Arizona professor and consultant.Also contributing to this essay: Lawyer Harrison Dickey, history professor Richard Eaton of the University of Arizona; Republican businesswoman Cele Peterson; retired doctor and UA College of Medicine professor Barbara H. Warren; and Donna Branch-Gilby, former head of the Pima County Democratic Party and a candidate for the county Board of Supervisors.