Posted 5 years ago on March 7, 2012, 12:25 p.m. EST by arturo
from Shanghai, Shanghai
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Under that title, former CIA Middle East chief Paul Pillar, a leading figure in the "Generals' ad" against war in the Washington Post Mar. 5, followed up with a major article in the Washington Monthly. "No one knows what the full ramifications of such a war with Iran would be, and that is the main problem with any proposal to use military force against the Iranian nuclear program. But the negative consequences for U.S. interests are likely to be severe," he writes.
Pillar's forceful argument throughout is that the government and political leadership of Iran are rational actors — the same argument to which Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Martin Dempsey has hewed in his stubborn opposition to Obama on attacking Iran.
"An Iran with a bomb would not be anywhere near as dangerous as most people assume," Pillar writes, "and a war to try to stop it from acquiring one would be less successful, and far more costly, than most people imagine." He addresses himself throughout the article to U.S. interests and U.S. policy leaders, attributing the war danger not to Israel — where Bibi Netanyahu is a minority even in his own government — but to "neo-Cons" (as close as Pillar comes to the British leading role).
"The principles of deterrence are not invalid just because the party to be deterred wears a turban and a beard," he writes. China's development of a nuclear weapon (it tested its first one in 1964) seemed all the more alarming at the time because of Mao's openly professed belief that his country could lose half its population in a nuclear war and still come out victorious over capitalism. But deterrence with China has endured for half a century, even during the chaos and fanaticism of Mao's Cultural Revolution. A few years after China got the bomb, Richard Nixon built his global strategy around engagement with Beijing."
"The judgment of the U.S. intelligence community, as voiced publicly by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, is that Iran is retaining the option to build nuclear weapons but has not yet decided to do so. Much diplomatic ground has yet to be explored."
Pillar notes that the lack of an "existential threat" from Iran is recognized by most political and military leaders in Israel, while such an existential threat is hysterically claimed by neo-Cons and Democrats, including President Obama, in the United States.
In a second article appearing today, in The National Interest and focussing on the AIPAC conference, Pillar writes, "The president's [Obama's] comments about how no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran and reference to Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs, sound almost like an invitation to Netanyahu to launch a war."
"It is very clear that a military strike against Iran will be catastrophic in its consequences, not just on us but the world in general."