Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a strong opponent of President Barack Obama’s diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program, suggested on Tuesday that armed conflict with Tehran could be easily contained to “several days of air and naval bombing” and would not require the deployment of American ground troops. The comments eerily echoed the false predictions of Bush administration officials on the eve of the Iraq invasion.
Appearing on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio show, Cotton slammed Obama for suggesting that military confrontation was the only alternative to diplomacy in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“This president has a bad habit of accusing other people of making false choices, but he presented the ultimate false choice last week when he said it’s either this deal or war,” Cotton said, before adding, that “Even if military action were required…the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq and that’s simply not the case.”
“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox,” he continued. “Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough as in the protection of America’s national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”
But American military leaders — who worked for lawmakers of both parties — strongly disagree with Cotton’s assessment, arguing that an attack could actually prove a regional war and further push Iran towards the bomb.
“[If Iran were to be attacked] the United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases, and there are economic consequences to that attack….which could impact a very fragile economy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States,” former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta predicted in 2011. General Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander, put it more clearly, “I think anybody that believes that it would be a clean strike and it would be over and there would be no reaction is foolish,” he said in 2009. And former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained that “such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert.” “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world,” he said. (HT: BuzzFeed)