Talk, Talk, Talk
No one wants to go to war with Iran. Not Israel, not the United States, not Republicans, not Democrats, not Jews, not Christians. No one.
Despite that, there has been increasing talk of the possibility of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel and/or the U.S. The reason is simple: the possession of nuclear weapons by the Iranians would present an extraordinary potential threat—existential for Israel, dire for the rest of the world. The mullahs have repeatedly spoken of the need to destroy Israel (most recently just last week at “Al-Quds Day,” attended by Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah, who bragged about his terrorist organization’s ability to kill hundreds of thousands of Israelis), and the possibility of such weapons getting into the hands of one of Iran’s terrorist surrogates is too nightmarish to contemplate.
Despite that, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is calling on its members to contact President Obama with a message: no war with Iran. So what should we do instead?
With the 2012 election season in high gear, Iran hawks in both parties and their Israeli counterparts are pressing for war. They are increasing the pressure on President Obama, including with the threat of unilateral Israeli military action.
You would think to read this that there were fire-breathing warmongers who just can’t wait to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age. In fact, those who are suggesting the possibility of military action are doing so with the greatest reluctance, recognizing that such action is likely to only delay matters while perhaps plunging the whole region into chaos. If some believe a strike is necessary, it is only because they have concluded that all of the alternatives are worse.
The threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is a matter of deep concern. An Iran armed with nuclear weapons is an alarming scenario that the U.S. Israel, and the world cannot afford to dismiss.
However, the increasingly strident rhetoric about military action against Iran is also deeply concerning. Israeli and American experts agree that military action is unlikely to do more than delay Iran’s nuclear program and is almost certain to have far-reaching and dangerous consequences for the U.S., Israel, and the region.
The authors of this seem to think that the only purpose of the rhetoric is to lay the ground for action. In fact, at least some of those talking about the military option are hoping that if the talk gets tough enough, Iran will conclude that proceeding will be counter-productive. Not likely, but I’m certain that’s what some leaders are thinking.
A war with Iran is neither desirable nor inevitable. The best chance for avoiding such a war is robust diplomacy. A large number of former and current U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence officials and national security experts are saying that such an approach, not military action, is the solution. Intensified diplomacy must be pursued.
And this is where they go all mainline. “Robust diplomacy” is a meaningless expression without any further content. Do Louisville’s foreign policy gurus really think that there haven’t been serious diplomatic efforts? What makes those less than “robust”? How much more “intense” do they want it to be? What do they think we still have to discuss with the Iranians?
I don’t have an answer for this dilemma, but I have a sneaking suspicion that at this point, the standard mainline response to pretty much any disagreement—talk, talk, and more talk, until your opponent gets sick of the sound of your voice and gives in just so you’ll shut up—will not work with people who are seeking the most powerful weapons the world has ever seen. Something more than just “robust diplomacy” is going to be necessary to convince the mullahs to give up their ambitions.
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