A worthy subject.
I am all in favour of covert operations and intelligence gathering if it can help us avoid another WMD fiasco. So I support the intelligence gathering objective only.
Covert operations are fine if they achieve specific objectives that are short leaving evidence of an actual act of war. If they are bungled then we are in for big trouble. Because of all the unknowns, the probability that they will come unstuck is high and then the outcome is severe, so the risk should be unacceptable.
I think we should assume that the Iranian people have the leadership that they want or deserve. Destabilising it through covert operations is a really dumb idea, but one worthy of this Administration. It is not our business, and we are not capable of controlling any instability that we may create. Why do we always assume that if we shoot the bad leader then a better guy will take his place? America is so hated there that our involvement would probably encourage extremist views and allow them to get more power.
Iran’s nuclear threat is against Israel, but it draws the USA in because of our unquestioning support of Israel. The Israelis are correct in being afraid because of countless unjustified threats to wipe them out. They can act tough with Iran because they can rely on our support. The cold war principle of Mutually Assured Destruction is unlikely to work on Islamic fanatics. The price of that support is likely to be loss of control over the commencement of a devastating war. Nevertheless, it is unlikely to reach our shores and the Israelis will probably pay a terrible price whoever starts it, and whether we participate or not. Strategist say that one well placed nuke would wreck that country.
Britain once declared war because the Germans invaded Poland. That was the right thing to do because of a treaty, but the USA could not bring itself to do likewise at that time. FDR decided that the USA was not ready for war, or not committed enough to go to bat for East Europeans. He put the USA first, and that was the statesman-like thing to do, even though it only postponed the inevitable. Our next President will need that kind of wisdom.
All the more reason for having good intel to inform us what is going on in both Iran and Israel that could bring on a war that could involve us. Hopefully W Bush won’t be around long enough to talk up another war. This time we will have to demand strong evidence before we take military action. Blind trust in the Chief (or even Joint Chiefs) is now a thing of the past.
This time there probably will be valid intelligence-gathered evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons capable of hitting Israel. Will that be a sufficient cause for the USA to take pre-emptive strike action? The answer probably doesn’t matter because Israel (has said that it) will strike anyway. Will the USA then be able to resist the pressure to defence Israel from the counter-strike? Should it?
A well written opinion, but I disagree. My views on foreign policy are mostly shaped by WW-II.
72 million people died in WWII. The US had multiple opportunities to avoid that death toll.
1. After WW-I, we could have helped to healthily rebuild Germany (as we did with Japan and Germany after WW-II)
2. If we didn’t do #1, then we could have preemptively removed Hitler by any means, from covert to full out invasion before they got too strong (to some extent as as we did with Iraq).
FDR wanted to join the war much sooner than we did, but the Republican congress at the time full resisted any sort of support for Great Brittan.
The lessons I draw from this is when dealing with ruthless leaders, dealing with the problem early, then rebuilding a stable economy and planting the seeds of democracy will in the long run save the most lives.
Germany, Japan and to a certain extent South Korea are great examples of the potential outcome. The odds may be against us that Iraq and Afgahnistan turn out 1/2 as well, but I believe it is a worthy effort.
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