This weekend, speaking at a security conference in Canada, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the U.S. should consider military strikes on Iran over its reported nuclear program. Graham said “we’re probably even past that point” in which a conventional limited airstrike would succeed in eliminating Iran’s nuclear program and that the best course would be to “neuter that regime“:
GRAHAM: Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that’s a different military scenario. It’s not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back.
This morning on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough — who has recently been taking Republican leaders to task for their extreme right-wing views — lambasted Graham for his comment. “I don’t get this. This is neoconservatism on crack,” he said. Iranian-American writer and religious scholar Reza Aslan noted what the implementation of Graham’s vision would look like:
ASLAN: The reality is that, what we found out last year, it’s an incedibly complex, diverse, eclectic society and one thing that I can tell you and you would find this out if you just read their poetry and their fiction, is that they’re deeply nationalistic which is why when we were laughing at what Lindsey Graham was saying, he actually believes that if we are going to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions through a military outlet we’re going to have to neuter the entire country. Well listen, the Iranians as we know, hate their own government…they would like nothing more than a change in regime. … But they are also, with the possible exception of Americans, the most patriotic, most nationalistic people on earth. This isn’t Iraq, this isn’t Afghanistan. … If you attack Iran, it’s the best way to ensure that this government goes absolutely nowhere.
SCARBOROUGH: It will unify Iran and like the Iranians, a lot of our so-called allies in the Middle East, the public likes America
Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay of the Conservative Party, who also attended the conference, later told a panel there that a military attack on Iran would have negative consequences and that sanctions are the preferable course of action. “No question there would be a negative reaction to that course of action,” he said. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) said Graham’s idea would have “worldwide repercussions.” “I’m not willing to put my support behind that step,” he said. According to Brooking’s Ken Pollack, “attacking Iran is more likely to guarantee an Iranian nuclear arsenal than to preclude it.”