Congress should also take note that our Middle Eastern and European friends who advocate U.S. military action against Iran are usually quite reticent regarding their readiness to shed their own blood in a new Middle East conflict. To make matters worse, the most immediate beneficiary of ill-considered recourse to war would be Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which would be able to charge Europe almost at will for its oil while gaining a free hand to threaten Georgia and Azerbaijan.
It follows that a failure to reach a satisfactory negotiated solution with Iran should not be viewed as the trigger for a new U.S.-initiated war that is not likely to be confined just to Iran.
A more prudent and productive course for the United States would be to continue the painful sanctions against Iran while formally adopting for the Middle East the same policy that for decades successfully protected America’s European and Asian allies against the much more dangerous threats emanating from Stalinist Russia and lately from nuclear-armed North Korea. An Iranian military threat aimed at Israel or any other U.S. friend in the Middle East would be treated as if directed at the United States itself and would precipitate a commensurate U.S. response.
A serious discussion of these issues by the Foreign Relations Committee may help generate a firmer national consensus that a reckless shortcut to war — which is favored now by neither the American people nor the Israeli public — is not the wisest response to a potentially grave crisis. Indeed, could Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s Mossad, have been right when he bluntly said that an attack on Iran is “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”? Fortunately, there is a better, even if not a perfect, option.