A new 60 minutes/Vanity Fair poll raises an important point about the prospect of an escalating military conflict between the U.S. and Iran. Respondents were asked “Which one of the following would be most likely to cause you to support a U.S. war with Iran?”
It’s an oddly phrased question, but one which nevertheless indicates pretty strongly that Americans are not in favor of a U.S. war with Iran. I suspect that those who are in favor of a war with Iran understand this, which is why they like to talk exclusively about “air strikes,” “military strikes,” or my favorite, “surgical strikes.”
Last month’s Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll showed that Americans “were about evenly divided” on the question of whether the U.S. should undertake “military strikes” on Iran as a last resort, after diplomatic and sanctions efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program had been exhausted. It would be interesting to see how those numbers change if “military strikes” was changed to “war.”
Because war is what it would be. The idea that the U.S. or Israel will deal with the problem through a few days or weeks of air strikes should be put to rest. Given the suspected extent of Iran’s secret nuclear program, and how they are believed to be dispersed around the country and buried in hardened facilities, it will be very difficult to ascertain at what point the program has been sufficiently degraded.
The negative consequences of strikes on Iran, on the other hand, will probably become pretty clear very quickly, as virtually every study conducted on the scenario has indicated. Among those likely consequences is an Iranian regime even more committed to obtaining a nuclear weapon, and an Iranian public even more supportive of it.
As Ali Gharib astutely observed the other day, talk of “air strikes” are for Iran what “cakewalk” was for Iraq — the false idea that, through large-scale preventive military action, the U.S. can accomplish its goals with a minimum of fuss. It was a fantasy then, and it’s a fantasy now.
The truth is there’s only one way that the issue of Iran’s nuclear program will be dealt with to the international community’s satisfaction: Inspections. The question is whether those inspections will be carried out by UN inspectors under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or by U.S. troops under the auspices of an American military occupation of Iran. And those who are now pushing the U.S. toward another disastrous military intervention in the Middle East shouldn’t be allowed to pretend otherwise.