i have heard several acquaintances recently express concern that the u. s. will soon find itself engaged in yet another conflict, this time in iran. certainly the tension between iran and the west has greatly increased recently: israel seems poised to attack iran's nuclear facilities in a "surgical strike," and the united states and european union tighten financial sanctions against the country. in the summer, the e. u. will no longer import iranian oil into the economic zone. the persian country now finds itself isolated, in an increasingly dire financial situation. yet it continues to devote resources to producing nuclear energy, and though it officially denies it, a nuclear weapon. an irrational regime, whose power rests between the dictatorial religious figure the grand ayatollah khamenei and president ahmadinejad trying to wrest power from the religious authority, the government would rather see its people suffer than abstain from gaining nuclear power.
the israelis believe the time has come to act, to bomb whatever nuclear facilities currently operational in iran, and risk retaliation. israel considers whatever retaliation the country can muster a less fearsome opposition than a nuclear iran. as a nuclear power, iran would not just possess the bomb but would garner more influence in the middle east. honestly, what security does nuclear weaponry give a country? does the iranian government believe it will be invincible then to attack? is it so willing to press the trigger to destroy an enemy knowing that this act will assure its mutual destruction? rather, nuclear capabilities will concretize internal power and generate international influence in a rapidly changing middle east.
the new york times today reported that u. s. government analysis indicated that iran would respond to any israeli surgical operation by striking anonymously in foreign capitals, possibly restricting shipping access to the strait of hormuz, and assisting the taliban and other terrorist organizations in afghanistan plant roadside bombs. iran would definitely commit larger resources to hamas, hezbollah, and islamic jihad to further de-stabilize the region. "[But] Iran's primary goal would be quickly rebuilding and probably accelerating its nuclear program, and thus, according to these assessments, it would be likely to try to avoid inviting a punishing second wave of attacks by the United States."
yet we don't need to worry about a second attack. we could just help israel with the first, especially considering that israel's resources might be stretched trying to reach iran.
matthew kroenig argues in foreign affairs that it is "Time to Attack Iran." kroenig writes a convincing article noting that iran it is unlikely that the united states would miss any weapons programs should we commit an attack on the country, allowing thus the iranians to rebuild another nuclear program quickly. we would not need to commit troops to the ground in iran to complete this operation. we would not even be protecting iranian civilians, such as in libya. however, kroenig argues that we must assure the iranian government that we are not targeting the government but just its nuclear capabilities, and that our country would then only respond to certain "redline" retaliation from the iranians such as attacks on other gulf states or southern europe. the u. s. government would (and already needs) to make clear exactly what bounds the iranian government cannot step without serious retaliation.
with great consideration, a surgical strike on iranian nuclear capabilities could be successful and the consequences could be contained. but we can no longer posture or dither on the issue. if america found itself wrongly embroiled in conflict in past decades due to ideology, we cannot deny the dangers of the atom bomb. we can justify a violent move against a regime resistant to international pressure on this issue, especially when we seek not to foment regime change but only to remove danger to the international community.