Salt Lake City, UT - 9/10/08 - In a Sunday article in the Jordan Times, author Musa Keilani posits that in the wake of an impending Israeli attack on Iran, the U.S. might as well "do it the right way" and launch an attack on Iran that would not rely on the Israelis.
Keilani asserts that a U.S. attack may be perceived as "the lesser of two evils" as compared to an Israeli attack that may rally the Muslim world's support behind Iran. Regardless of who attacks Iran, both measures would prove disastrous to America and Israel but beneficial to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
While the United States has convinced the UN Security Council that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the administration has not revealed any evidence to the public that justifies this position. What the American public was made aware of is that 16 different intelligence agencies confirmed the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate report in 2007. This report determined with "high confidence" that Iran ceased nuclear weaponization work in 2003.
The crux of the administration's crusade to end the nuclear proliferation regime relies on circumstantial evidence provided by the CIA sponsored Mujahadeen-e Khalk (MEK), an Iranian opposition group, considered by the U.S., EU, and until recently the UK, to be a terrorist organization. According to Jeffery Lewis, director of the non-proliferation Initiative at the Washington based New America Foundation think tank, the MEK purportedly obtained a laptop from an Iranian engineer in mid 2004 that led the U.S. intelligence community to believe Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Despite the dubious reliability behind the sources that condemn Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, Israel rightfully remains concerned that a nuclear armed Iran would be as the popular phrase goes, "a game changer." Indeed, a nuclear armed Iran would transform the political landscape of the Middle East as Israel would no longer possess the ability to single-handedly leverage its undeclared nuclear status in the region. Iran with a nuclear weapon may strengthen Hamas and Hezbollah, which would draw considerable international attention to Israel's territorial disputes. Nonetheless, in the absence of credible evidence, the United States must not do Israel's dirty work by attacking Iran and eliminating the regime's nuclear facilities.
An attack against Iran will produce many devastating unintended consequences for the U.S. The Islamic republic could retaliate by undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of American interest in the Persian Gulf. Regardless of Persian vs. Arab historical tensions, another U.S. attack on a Muslim nation would weaken America's credibility among its oil producing allies. The RAND Corporation contends, "A raid that successfully destroys the [Iranian] nuclear facilities but inflames nationalist passions, engenders bitter anti-Americanism among ordinary Iranians, and consolidates popular support for an otherwise unpopular regime would come at a very high price," for America.
The U.S. must not exacerbate the nuclear impasse by attacking Iran, a move that would empower Iran's hardliners. Iranians will receive the brunt of the military conflict since the brutal fundamentalist regime would use an attack as a pretext to eliminate dissenting voices that threaten its unpopular domestic and foreign policies. An attack would also draw Iranian moderates behind the morally bankrupt regime. Worst of all, according to the Institute for Science and International Security's president and former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, "An attack would likely leave Iran angry, more nationalistic, fed up with international inspectors and nonproliferation treaties, and more determined than ever to obtain nuclear weapons."
The American public must reclaim this debate and consider the facts at hand. No evidence exists to indicate Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. A military conflict would kill Iran's democratic movement and close the door on the Iranian people, America and Israel's best ally to combat Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. America cannot afford to alienate the most pro-American and pro-democratic people in the region by blindly attacking Iran based on less than credible circumstantial pretenses. Even Israel's President Shimon Peres warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday that, "The military way will not solve the problem... Such an attack can trigger a bigger war."
Some may consider a U.S. attack, rather than an Israeli attack, to be the lesser of the two evils, but nonetheless, it would still be evil. According to a report released by Physicians for Social Responsibility that was based on models from the Department of Defense's simulators, 2.6 million people would die as a result of radioactive exposure released from a blast on Iran's nuclear facilities. Using the lessons we learned from Iraq, we cannot repeat our same mistakes twice with less than credible evidence presented to us while so much more hangs in the balance.