A report released today from the neoconservative Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Project calls for stepped-up rhetoric and military actions against Iran.
The report (pdf), co-authored by a 13-member bipartisan task force including John Hannah, Former National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, General (ret.) Charles Wald,
Former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command, Mortimer Zuckerman, and Ambassador Eric Edelman, Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under George W. Bush, is skeptical of talks with Iran and doubts the effectiveness of sanctions. The group states that the U.S. must do "whatever it takes" to stop a nuclear Iran and encourages Israel beefing up its military capabilites.
Reuters reports today:
There is little evidence to suggest that U.S. President Barack Obama has any significant interest in the possibility of a military strike against Iran, though his administration has repeatedly said that all options are on the table.
To a lesser degree there has also been debate about a U.S. attack, an idea advocated by former Pentagon defense planner Matthew Kroenig in his recent Foreign Affairs Magazine article, "Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option."
The BPC report repeats the drumbeat for war with its report today. From the executive summary:
Unless the United States soon takes a more assertive leadership role, Iran could develop nuclear weapons capability in 2012 and Israel is likely to feel compelled to take unilateral military action against Iran. We must stop the clock.
Doing so will require demonstrating resolve to do whatever it takes to prevent a nuclear Iran. While we hope for a peaceful settlement, we recognize that additional leverage is required to enable it. For that reason we endorse the triple-track approach called for in previous BPC reports: diplomacy, robust sanctions, and credible, visible preparations for a military option of last resort. To augment the latter we call on U.S. leaders to enhance Israeli military capabilities so as to put additional pressure on the Iranian regime. At this late date, it is only the threat of force, combined with sanctions, that affords any realistic hope of an acceptable diplomatic resolution.
The group is skeptical of any benefits of sanctions:
With the impact of additional sanctions questionable, additional pressure on the Iranian regime to negotiate in good faith can come from the credible threat of military action against Iran’s nuclear program. Realistically, that threat can come only from the United States or Israel. Regrettably, senior Obama administration officials have suggested that there is little or no likelihood that the United States would ever actually use force, and they have conveyed opposition to an Israeli strike as well.
The group foresees military action like this:
Should these measures – in conjunction with diplomatic and economic pressures already being pursued – not compel Tehran to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military is capable of launching an effective surgical strike against Iran’s nuclear program. An air campaign would last several weeks and target both key military and nuclear installations. It would not target civilian facilities, and ought to initiallylimit ground troops to Special Forces. Such action would only set back Iranian nuclear development, but not destroy Iranian nuclear knowledge. Still, it might persuade Tehran that the costs of continuing its nuclear program are too high. The fallout of Israel’s strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 may be instructive; although it was estimated that the attack would set back Iraq’s nuclear program three years, Baghdad never rebuilt the reactor, though it did continue a covert nuclear program. Thus, taking military action would require continued vigilance in the years that follow, both to retain the ability to strike previously undiscovered sites and to ensure that Iran does not revive its military nuclear program.
Writing on Al Jazeera today, Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, writes:
...the international discourse on nuclear weapons is so distorted that it is a rarity to encounter criticism of its discriminatory application, its double standards as between nuclear and non-nuclear states, and its geopolitical style of selective enforcement. In this regard, it should be appreciated that the threat of military attack directed at Iran resembles reliance on the so-called Bush Doctrine of preventive war that had been used to justify aggression against Iraq in 2003, and represents a blatant geopolitical override of international law.