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Experts Speak: No Good Military Options in Iran

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"Experts Speak: No Good Military Options in Iran"

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ThinkProgress has created a graphic database featuring quotes from prominent analysts and officials who believe there are no good military options in Iran. The document will be updated as more experts weigh in — if we’re missing someone, let us know HERE or in the comments section.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE)

“I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue,” Hagel told a news conference. … “I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option,” he added. … “Iran is a complicated issue. I think that a responsible approach to these challenges is to work closely with our friends and allies, in this case Pakistan, with the United Nations, with the IAEA,” he said. “I believe a political settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement. All these issues will require a political settlement,” Hagel said. [4/13/06]

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION

“‘There are no good military options. … When you’re trying to stabilise Iraq and you’ve got this long border between Iran and Iraq, and you’re trying to keep the Iranians from interfering in Iraq so you can get the Iraq government up and running, you shouldn’t be picking a war with the Iranians,’ said Carafano. ‘It just doesn’t make any sense from a geopolitical standpoint,’ he said. Iran is believed to protect its most sensitive facilities by dispersing, burying and hardening them, learning from the 1981 Israeli air strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. So the payoff from surgical strikes on suspected nuclear facilities would be uncertain and temporary, Carafano said.” [1/24/05]

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL)

Now, we are not going to go to war with — with Iran. So, that military option is probably off the table. Diplomacy, you have seen what has been taking place. We have been at this diplomatic maneuver for many, many months and many, many years, all to no avail. They have even built up their nuclear infrastructure. So, that leads us to the third tool in our toolbox, which is sanctions.” [Fox News, 3/15/06]

RET. AIR FORCE LT COL. SAM GARDINER

Gardiner, a simulations expert at the U.S. Army’s National War College, after leading a “war game” on Iran: “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.” [12/04]

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT

[A] military strike would be disastrous for the United States. It would rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. And it would accelerate, not delay, the Iranian nuclear program. Hard-liners in Tehran would be proven right in their claim that the only thing that can deter the United States is a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders could respond with a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.” [3/27/06]

RAY TAKEYH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

“To properly address the complexities of the Iranian challenge, Washington should appreciate that its policy of relentlessly threatening Iran with economic coercion and even military reprisals only empowers reactionaries and validates their pro-nuclear argument.” [4/4/06]

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

“David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who is now president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, agreed that Iran ‘could cause all kinds of disruption clandestinely in Iraq.’ For that reason, and several others, he said there are no good military options on the table for confronting Iran. He also said loud external threats, especially from the United States, tend to backfire by sending Iranian moderates and reformers running under the banners of the clerical regime that Washington opposes.” [1/13/06]

IAEA DIRECTOR MOHAMED ELBARADEI

I don’t believe there is a military solution to the issue. I think that a military solution would be completely counterproductive.” [12/9/05]

IRANIAN NOBEL LAUREATE SHIRIN EBADI

Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties. Instead, the most effective way to promote human rights in Iran is to provide moral support and international recognition to independent human rights defenders and to insist that Iran adhere to the international human rights laws and conventions that it has signed. Getting the Iranian government to abide by these international standards is the human rights movement’s highest goal; foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.” [2/8/05]

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-PA)

“There’s no way [President Bush is] going to take military action in Iran. Iran is, is three times as big geographically, there’s 58 million people vs. 26 million people in, in Iraq, and, and there’s no way. A fanatical government — I mean, the, the president of the United States does not have a military option. He can say he has a military option; he does not have a military option.” [3/19/06]

FORMER COUNTERTERROR CHIEF RICHARD CLARKE

[W]e’ve thought about military options against Iran off and on for the last 20 years, and they’re just not good, because you don’t know what the end game is. You know what the first move of the game is, but you don’t know what the last move of the game is. … I don’t think there’s any doubt that the intelligence community and the defense department believe Iran would respond with terrorism. … So they would respond if we hit them militarily, if that was the first move. The second move would them striking back with terrorism, including in the United States. And then what’s the third move? What’s the end of that process?” [ABC’s Good Morning America, 4/3/06]

FORMER BUSH STATE DEPT. POLICY DIRECTOR RICHARD HAASS

“So far, the Bush administration has shown it would like to resolve its problems with North Korea and Iran the same way it did with Iraq: through regime change. It is easy to see why. But the strategy is unlikely to work, at least not quickly enough.” [8/05]

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AND DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES

“‘The U.S. capability to make a mess of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is formidable,’ says veteran Mideast analyst Geoffrey Kemp. ‘The question is, what then?’ NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, ‘The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.‘” [9/27/04]