There is little doubt that we can bomb Iran with relative impunity. Should we? Here, I would like to provide some counterpoints for consideration
Iran ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. Leaders of the Islamic Republic inherited the NPT from the Shah and voluntarily chose to honor the agreement.
Iran has not had an aggressive State war for almost 2 centuries. They were invaded in 1723, 1798 and 1806 by Russia; In 1941 by Britain; in 1953 the U.S. engineered an overthrow and installed the Shah and in 1980 Iraq attacked Iran. On the other hand, Iran invaded India in 1739 and Russia in 1826.
The CIA installed the corrupt Shah in Iran in 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower started their nuclear program with the 'Atoms for Peace" plan.
There are two theories about why Iran and why now. One is that it is really in the works and we are going to do it and the other is that it is a distraction from Iraq during the election period. It could be both. As one source wrote, "Saber- rattling is reckless as foreign policy, it's a proven winner as election-year Republican campaign strategy."
We also like to associate everybody we don't like with the Taliban. Actually, a good piece of our initial victory in Afghanistan is due to Iran who had been funding the Northern Alliance against the Taliban for a decade and were ready to go to war against the Taliban regime themselves.
When 9/11 happened, and many middle-east countries cheered. In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. 60,000 spectators respected a minute's silence for the victims at Tehran's football stadium. The Iranian military offered to conduct search and rescue operations for downed U.S. pilots during the fall 2001 war against the Taliban. It used its influence with the Afghanistan's Dari population to broker the Loya Jirga that installed Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan.
A few weeks later, however, the White House had Iran named as a member of an "Axis of Evil".
In May 2003, the Iranian authorities sent a proposal to the U.S. through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran in which Iran would freeze its nuclear program in exchange for an end to U.S. hostility. Iran offered "full transparency for security that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD [and] full cooperation with the IAEA based on Iranian adoption of all relevant instruments." U.S. officials confirm this overture. "We don't speak to evil," Donald Rumsfeld said.
Only in 2005 when the Ayotolla's finally figured out this an unavoidable fight, did the moderate President Rafsanjani become replaced with hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to help the country get ready for the inevitable.
The deputy commanding general in Iraq said on11/16 that the informal agreement with Iran to police its borders against arms to Iraq is a big part in the reduced violence there.
The UN IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program says that Iran seems to be telling the truth, about its program and the U.S. is making it more difficult.
What are some of the possible or likely offshoots of a war with Iran?
(1) Having no way to repel the U.S., Iran has said that its many missiles with 1,200 mile ranges are targeted at U.S. bases and allies and will just be launched en masse.
(2) Who are its religious allies? Iran is Shia as opposed to Sunni, the other major sect of Islam. The Shia are approximately 35% of the Middle East Islams. Their specific religious allies would probably include: Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain (with the U.S. Navys most important Persian gulf base) and Lebanon – countries with majority Shia populations. In fact, Iraq's senior religious leader, Ayotollah Sistani is, himself, an Iranian citizen.
(3) The vast majority of Shia in Saudi Arabia are cloistered around the eastern part, where the oilfields lie, less than 30 miles from Iran. Kuwait and Yemen have substantial populations of Shia.