Speaking at a security conference in Canada yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took it upon himself to make U.S.-Iran policy, declaring that “Containment is off the table“:
The South Carolina Republican saw the United States going to war with the Islamic republic “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.”
In a recent article, Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution wrote that an attack of the sort that Sen. Graham is calling for “will likely mean the end of the international effort to contain the Iranian nuclear program altogether”:
Tehran will probably withdraw from the NPT, arguing (rightly) that the vast majority of the information that the United States relied on to mount the air strikes came from the IAEA inspectors—and since the NPT was a vehicle for American aggression against Iran, there is no reason for Tehran to remain a party to it. As for the international community, they will doubtless blame Washington for having driven the Iranians out of the treaty. Gone too will be the international consensus to compel Iran to end its nuclear activities through sanctions. America would have violated a critical provision of the resolutions, not to mention the UN Charter, and will have to expect that China will lead a stampede of countries away from that effort and back into the arms of the Islamic Republic.
A repeat attempt by the United States (or anyone else) to destroy Iran’s facilities by force will then be impossible. Once the IAEA inspectors are gone, so too will be our best and most comprehensive sources of information on the Iranian program. Washington won’t have the option of bombing Iran again if the regime begins to rebuild its nuclear capabilities after the first round of strikes. And serious international pressure on Tehran will come to an end.
Pollack determined that, “Under current conditions, attacking Iran is more likely to guarantee an Iranian nuclear arsenal than to preclude it.”
Iranian democracy activists have been very vocal against a U.S. attack on Iran. In a recent interview with Think Progress, Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi stated unequivocally that the military option would be disastrous:
“The military option will not benefit the U.S. interest or the Iranian interest,” said Ebadi. “It is the worst option. You should not think about it.” Ebadi said, “The Iranian people — including myself — will resist any military action.”
An attack on Iran “would give the government an excuse to kill all of its political opponents, as was done during the Iran-Iraq war.” For this reason, Ebadi suggested that the Iranian government probably “wouldn’t mind the U.S. throwing a missile at them.”
Ebadi also criticized the Bush administration’s “axis of evil” approach in the Middle East, saying that Iran and Ahmadinejad, had become more popular in the region because of U.S. policies, particularly the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In a May interview, Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji described the destructive impact of Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric on pro-democracy Iranian moderates. “The belligerent rhetoric of Bush didn’t help us [the Iranian democracy movement], it harmed us,” Ganji said. He insisted that “jingoistic, militaristic language used by any foreign power would actually be detrimental to this natural evolution of Iranian society.”
It’s amazing that, having been proved catastrophically wrong about Iraq, neocons like Graham are now calling for yet another war in the Middle East, defiantly ignorant of the actual consequences. Is it too much to hope that America has learned to stop listening to them?