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Five Good Reasons to Avoid a War with Iran

Philip Giraldi
Campaign For Liberty
Monday, Dec 7th, 2009

As America’s founding fathers clearly understood war is a serious business and should only be engaged in when there is a threat to vital national interests. The US Constitution stipulates that there must be a declaration of war from congress, a safeguard inserted in the document to prevent presidents from going to war without a clear national consensus behind them. Nevertheless, even though the federal government has fought many wars in the past hundred years only two were preceded by an actual declaration by Congress, World War I and World War II. Every other war has been both illegal and unconstitutional, including the current involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on various fronts in the so-called global war on terror. Given this legacy of nearly constant and unconstitutional conflict, another Middle Eastern war would only confirm in the minds of many that the United States has become a rogue nation, continuously at war as if it were a natural state. It would also increase concerns that Washington is committed to an expanding confrontation with the Muslim world, a perception, true or false, that can only have bad consequences for the American people.

It is likely that the United States will eventually go to war with Iran. I say this with some confidence. First, both the Obama Administration and Congress are moving rapidly towards harsh sanctions, reflected in the public utterances of Obama and Hillary Clinton and in Congress through HR 2194, which will embargo all refined petroleum imports into Iran, a blockade that will have to be enforced by the US Navy and will be equivalent to an act of war. Second, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, under pressure from the US and the Europeans to act, has passed a highly critical resolution relating to the Iranian nuclear energy program. Together the maneuverings in Vienna and Washington provide a legal framework for international action directed against Tehran, not unlike Washington’s UN engagement that preceded the Iraq invasion. Pressure from both directions means that talks to resolve the issue of Iranian nuclear plans will end and it is only a matter of time before an incident between US and Iranian armed forces leads to a shooting war. It will be yet another conflict in the Middle East that could easily have been avoided, fought without any congressional declaration of war and most likely financed on borrowed money.

Critics of Iran note that the country has a repressive government, that it may have held elections during the summer that were fraudulent, and that it has sometimes problematical relationships with a number of its neighbors. But even conceding that all of that might be true the United States is not directly endangered and it is not the business of Washington to intervene in another country to bring about change. The complaint that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons is more serious because such devices are potentially a threat to everyone, but it must be viewed in context. Iran is confronted by a nuclear armed United States and Israel, both of which have frequently asserted their right to use military force against it. If the Iranian leadership has responded by using the possibility of its developing a nuclear weapon as a bargaining chip no one should be terribly surprised.

I believe there are five good reasons why the United States should do everything possible to avoid a war with Iran. First and foremost is the fact that Iran does not and realistically speaking cannot pose a threat against the United States. Iran is a developing country with a stagnating oil based economy one seventeenth as large as that of the US and a military budget just 1% of Washington’s. As Congressman Ron Paul has noted, Iran cannot even refine its own oil, requiring it to buy on the international market, suggesting that it will face insurmountable technical problems if it even tries to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is not Nazi Germany, with which it is often inaccurately compared, and has virtually no domestic armaments industry. The best available intelligence indicates that Iran currently is not developing a nuclear weapon, though it also suggests that it might move in that direction if attempts to isolate it are intensified, ironically leading to a weapons program where none existed.

Second, the United States can’t afford another war, most particularly a “war of choice.” Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost nearly $1 trillion and will add more than $130 billion over the next year even without President Obama’s escalation in forces, which will total another $34 billion. Those who support America’s wars claim that the cost of war is small relative to the size of the US economy, but that kind of thinking is based on a false premise, i.e. that conflict somehow benefits the United States. America does not have to be fighting in the Middle East and Central Asia and it is far more reasonable to argue that any money being spent in support of such an effort is essentially wasted. It should be used in the United States to make the lives of Americans better or it should be given back to the taxpayers.

Third, no war goes according to plan and there are always unintended consequences. The same voices in Washington that promised a cakewalk in Iraq are promising more of the same against Iran yet they ignore the fact that 120,000 American soldiers remain in Iraq after the military triumph nearly seven years ago. More than four thousand American soldiers are dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. And Iran would be an infinitely tougher nut to crack than either Afghanistan or Iraq. It is larger, more populous, and has had more than six years to prepare for an attack. It can wreak havoc in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and can reduce the oil flow through the Persian Gulf to a trickle. It might even get lucky and use its Chinese silkworm missiles to sink a US Navy ship or two. Bombing Iran’s so-called nuclear sites would kill many civilians and produce negative blowback. Following the example of North Korea, it would likely convince the Iranian government that developing a nuclear weapon is the only real way to protect against attack from Washington and Israel.

Fourth, attacking Iran after invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq would send the message that the United States is pursuing a policy of incremental regime change for the entire Muslim world. Washington should not be in the business of the currently fashionable bipartisan euphemism “democracy promotion” first and foremost because it is none of our business how other people govern themselves. On a practical level such efforts have proven to be ineffective at best and frequently even succeed in creating a worse situation. One only has to cite the evidence of America’s proxy regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are at the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption scale, just above Somalia. In Iran, US support for democracy as espoused by the so-called reformers will only strengthen the hand of conservatives who will be able to claim with some plausibility that the opposition is controlled by foreign interests and is disloyal.

Fifth, war against Iran would complete the transformation of America into a nation dominated by war. It would be the final blow against those who believe in small government and individual liberties. War with Iran will inevitably lead to an increase in the size of federal bureaucracies, most particularly the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence services and will lead to calls for greater government intrusion in the lives of all Americans “to make us safe.” As James Madison put it, “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. . . Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

So there is no upside to starting a war with Iran, which makes one wonder why so many in Congress and the media appear to favor it. Even the proponents of war concede that a bombing campaign would only delay, not eliminate, any Iranian nuclear weapons program. In the aftermath of the attack, Iran would certainly seek a nuclear weapon to defend itself from further attacks, making the reasoning behind the original bombing somewhat difficult to fathom. Those who seek regime change are also delusional if they think a military assault will change the country’s politics. Quite the contrary. In all likelihood, an attack by Israel or the US would only strengthen the regime. It is quite simply not in America’s national interest to continue down the road to war.

View the original article at Prison Planet

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