This week’s Time Magazine cover story asks, “What Would War With Iran Look Like?”
I can answer that question in two words: Unmitigated disaster.
No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran. Too many U.S. troops are tied down elsewhere to make it possible, and besides, it isn’t necessary. If the U.S. goal is simply to stunt Iran’s nuclear program, it can be done better and more safely by air.
Ah, yes. Douhetism triumphant. The first lesson one should draw from the air campaigns from WWI to the present is that air power doesn’t work. Not for winning wars. Not for making the target population knuckle under. Not for stopping, or even slowing, the target’s industrial production. Strategic bombing is a failed theory.
A U.S. strike would have a lasting impression on Iran’s rulers. U.S. officials believe that a campaign of several days could set back Iran’s nuclear program by two to three years. Hit hard enough, some believe, Iranians might develop second thoughts about their government’s designs as a regional nuclear power.
Would those be the same officials who believed that the Iraqis would greet us with flowers and dancing in the streets?
Some U.S. foes of Iran’s regime believe that the crisis of legitimacy that the ruling clerics would face in the wake of a U.S. attack could trigger their downfall, though others are convinced it would unite the population with the government in anti-American rage.
I’m taking bets. And I’m offering odds on “anti-American rage.” But let’s not limit that to Iran, guys. How many countries can we unite in anti-American rage?
“Nobody is considering a military option at this point,” says an administration official. “We’re trying to prevent a situation in which the president finds himself having to decide between a nuclear-armed Iran or going to war. The best hope of avoiding that dilemma is hard-nosed diplomacy, one that has serious consequences.”
That means they’ve already decided on the military option.