I would certainly advocate surgical strikes on installations that are a threat to the security of the U.S.; I don't believe that Iran poses that kind of threat. Certainly not a threat that can't be contained.
I simply believe it is not prudent to launch strikes on Iran at the current time and to create a situation that might very well further radicalize the theocratic forces in that country, and in Iraq, and in the Islamic world in general.
These are always the “cost/benefit” premises that I mentioned earlier: 1) That the threat to America is not real, and 2) That an American military response will make things worse, it will embolden our enemy.
The Iranians chant “Death to America” at official government meetings -- it is for all practical purposes their national motto. They are sitting on one of the planet’s largest oil reserves, and are using its revenues to finance the construction of nuclear weapons, as well as the construction of long-range missiles to deliver those weapons to Europe and, eventually, America. They’ve admitted to enriching uranium – so they clearly possess the materials and the means of making the fuel for nuclear weapons. Here is a nation with considerable resources, the explicit goal of destroying America and the clear intent to develop the means to do it.
Chris, what will it take to convince you this is a threat? A mushroom cloud and the vaporization of a million or so New Yorkers?
And on the issue of deterrence: I find it amazing that this country spent decades deterring the Soviet Union---the 'mad, crazy Communists' who were 'out to take over the entire world,' and who had a deadly nuclear arsenal equal to the U.S. arsenal, and who had tentacles everywhere from Southeast Asia to Latin America---but that this country suddenly does not have the capacity to deter pipsqueak authoritarians like Hussein or the mullahs of Iran.
In the first place, had America been able to destroy the Communist threat, at little risk to America and with little loss of American life, that would have been far preferable to a 30-year “cold war” of deterrence that delivered millions to the vast, unspeakable horrors of totalitarian rule. The fact that deterrence "worked" in one situation does not argue that it will work in every situation, nor does it argue that it is the best approach in every situation.
The fact that America did not have the option of easily destroying Communism early on – or , if we had it, we let ourselves be talked out of it by the “cost/benefit” crowd – does not argue that we should abandon that option now with respect to the Islamic threat.
In the second place, there are two fundamental differences between the situation with Communism versus Islam.
One, the Communists wanted to take over functioning economies; their objective was to seize wealth to insure they could stay in power. Sneaking a nuclear weapon into America to destroy Manhattan would not have advanced that goal. And an open attack would have risked the destruction of their own country. In 1962, we went “eyeball to eyeball” with them over the missiles in Cuba, and they backed down. This gave us reason to believe that they were rational enough not to risk war – and it gave them reason to believe they could not act with impunity.
Islam, however, has no interest in seizing anything material; it only seeks the submission or death of all infidels – even if it results in fifth century barbaric conditions like
those that the Taliban imposed on Afghanistan. Obviously, a nuclear weapon destroying Manhattan is something millions of Muslims would find delightful. If we know anything, we know there is an element in Islam you cannot deter. Suicide bombers cannot be threatened with anything. Like the Kamikaze hordes of Japan, they can only be destroyed.
Two, Communism eventually collapsed because it could not live up to its secular promise to achieve material prosperity – it could not survive the inevitable comparisons with the West, which it gradually lost the ability to prevent. Islam, however, makes no such secular promises. In fact, it demands that its adherents accept abject poverty if that is necessary to spread the cause. Thus, there is no reason to believe that it will ever collapse from within.
Instead, it will fester in Iran, fueled by its oil and gas revenues for decades to come, working non-stop to acquire the means of destroying America.
We need to destroy Iran before they develop the ability to destroy us. Furthermore, the destruction needs to be sufficient to insure that a nuclear weapons program cannot be rebuilt any time soon, and sufficient to erase any and all doubts about America’s military power and our willingness to use it. Hopefully, this will motivate the sane element in Islam to rein in the insane element. If not, we will move on to the next Islamic threat.
The Iranians have made it clear that they intend to inflict mass death on America. I say it is insane to run any risk that they will be able to do so.