After a dozen years out of Congress, former Senator Bob Kerry (D) launched a bid to fill his old seat from Nebraska, replacing, he hopes, retiring Senator Ben Nelson (D). This week, the Kerrey campaign released a video staking out an unusually bold stance for a Congressional candidates: strongly opposing a war with Iran.
In the video, released Monday, Kerrey begins by lining up some of the extraordinary costs — human and financial — of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the tolls these conflicts have taken on members of the armed services. Kerrey then puts Iran in context to these countries: “80 million people in Iran?” He then says of a potential large-scale war with Iran:
I think it would be a disaster. … It’ll make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a cakewalk.
Watch the campaign video:
The reference to a “cakewalk” should not be lost on anyone: that’s how Bush administration adviser Kenneth Adelman suggested an invasion of Iraq would play out. Nearly 5,000 dead service members and costs that could rise to as much as $1.5 trillion later, the Bush administration’s march to Baghdad was anything but the easy-going adventure they promised. Likewise, Iran hawks (many of them the same characters who pushed for the Iraq war) downplay the potential costs of war with Iran.
Kerrey’s entrée into the Iran debate seems particularly important, as journalist Jim Lobe points out, precisely because Kerrey, in the run up to the Iraq war, was aligned with the factions pressing hardest for an attack and invasion. Kerrey, a decorated Vietnam veteran and sometimes-hawkish Democrat, served on the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neoconservative dominated pressure group that relentlessly pursued regime change.
A potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, though U.S. and Israeli intelligence have not concluded that Iran has made a decision to pursue a weapon. The Obama administration vows to keep “all options on the table” to deal with the possibility, but the efficacy and consequences of a strike raise serious questions, leading the U.S. to pursue, for the meantime, a pressure track aimed at a negotiated resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis.