Last month, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), in an impassioned speech on the House floor, observed that it’s “impossible to not hear the drumbeat of war with Iran.” Ellison added that “pundits discuss the possibility with shocking casualness, and I am alarmed by this.” Indeed, various reporters have picked up on the point that, as the New York Times recently observed, the media landscape “leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 [is] unmistakable” from the current talk of war with Iran.
An op-ed from Mike Huckabee in today’s USA Today is no exception. It joins the right-wing campaign disparaging America’s top military officer for his belief that Iran is a “rational actor,” promotes the military option against Iran’s nuclear program and concludes, “We must act soon or face the withering verdict of history.” To its credit however, USA Today’s editorial team offered a counterpoint with a piece titled “Iran war draws close with little informed debate.” “What’s remarkable,” USA Today writes, “is that war [with Iran] is drawing so close with so little public discussion of the consequences”:
In the presidential debates, particularly, the discussion has seemed superficial or disingenuous — as if an attack would amount to little more than target practice: Go in. Drop bombs. Destroy Iran’s program forever. Fly home. End of story. But you’d be hard pressed to find a military or intelligence analyst who trusts in that scenario. […]
Another misconception drawn from the glib political debate is that an attack would end Iran’s nuclear program. Instead, the program would be set back, probably by a few years, and clandestinely reconstituted. …[N]one of this is to say that an attack should be ruled out. Concerns about a nuclear Iran are also valid. But given the stakes, Obama is right, as he said Sunday, to speak softly and carry a big stick.
As the USA Today editorial notes, former Defense secretary Robert Gates said recently that “those who say we shouldn’t attack, I think, underestimate the consequences of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And those who say we should underestimate the consequences of going to war.”
“If a war starts before the public resolves that dilemma,” USA Today writes, “the outcome is not likely to be pretty.”
The IAEA reiterated today that it has serious concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reporting that Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium. However, neither the IAEA nor U.S. intelligence reports have asserted that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program.