Republicans Preparing for War Against Iran?

Republicans are playing a dangerous game pretending that the United States should wage a third armed conflict in the Middle East.

Are Republicans laying the groundworks for a war against Iran? At Foreign Policy, Jamal Abdi seems to think so. “A game plan to draw the United States into a third war in the Middle East may be quietly unfolding before our eyes.”

House Republicans last week introduced a resolution that would provide explicit and unilateral support for a possible Israeli airstrike against Iran. The Islamic republic is suspected of developing a nuclear weapon in secret. Since recently, it certainly has the missiles to carry them.

The measure, introduced by gongressman Louie Gohmert of Texas and 46 other Republicans, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran — “including the use of military force.” According to Gohmert, the United States “have got to act.”

We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area.

Abdi points out that “Congress has never endorsed preemptive military strikes by a foreign country,” rendering this, in all likelihood, a political move that allows the opposition to portray itself as tough and uncompromising compared to a foreign policy on the part of the Obama Administration that is perceived to be weak and failing.

Further warmongering came from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Thursday who suggested at the American Enterprise Institute that the United States have yet to tackle two-thirds of the “axis of evil.” With Iraq supposedly taken care of, “why is it,” Gingrich wondered, “that the other two parts of the axis of evil are still visibly, cheerfully making nuclear weapons?” It’s because America “stood at brink,” he said, “looked over and thought, ‘too big a problem’.”

Such rhetoric may appeal to the more simple minded who dread over the end of American ascendancy but Abdi stresses that by encouraging an attack, “supporters of war are effectively working to circumvent the president and his military leadership, who have warned in dire terms against military action in Iran, and instead goading a third country into launching the first strike.” They are probably correct in their assumption that once Israel launches an attack, the United States would have little choice but to support it.

But bombing Iran now would do more harm than good. An airstrike is unlikely to take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities at once, dragging the attacker into a prolonged conflict, possibly a ground war that will only strengthen Iran’s resolve to develop its nuclear potential while undermining internal forces of reform.

Sanctions and isolation are putting Iran under pressure and may manage to contain it. Airstrikes on the other hand, “would propel 56 year-old Iranian demons into overdrive,” as Roger Cohen put it, “and lock in an America-hating Islamic Republic for the next half-century.”

Republicans who believe that bombing Iran will take care of the problem should have a hard look at the full consequences which their invasion of Iraq had on the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and subsequent pervasiveness of extremist organizations which position themselves as anti-American. An attack upon Iran should be a last resort to be undertaken only when the United States or its allies are directly threatened. Until that moment arrives, military action of such magnitude would be a colossal mistake.