Before bombing Iran, as many now seem to want to do, here are some questions that require answers and considerable public debate:

1.  Bombing a sovereign nation is a de facto declaration of war.  Our Constitution requires the Congress, not the President, to declare war.  Simply because we have launched a number of wars without a Congressional declaration does not mean the Constitutional requirement has been suspended;

2.  Such an attack will have economic consequences for us.  The Iranians most likely would blockade the Strait of Hormuz, thus reducing the shipment of Persian Gulf oil–almost one-quarter of our imports–and dramatically increasing world oil prices.  This would have a powerfully negative affect on our already fragile economy;

3.  Such an attack would place great stress on our military.  We cannot continue the Afghan war, prop up the neighboring Iraqi government, and create a third battlefield in the Middle East.  It is folly to assume that a US-Iran war can be carried out by the Navy and Air Force alone.  Our ground combat forces are near exhaustion;

4.  Bombing Iran would virtually assure an attack of considerable dimensions carried out against Israel.  This would involve both Iranian and Lebanon-based missiles.  Israel would necessarily retaliate.  We would then have all-out war in the Middle East.

5.  An attack on another Muslim (albeit Persian) nation invigorates al Qaeda recruitment.  A third war in a Islamic nation confirms their argument that the US hates Muslims.  Expect other 9/11’s of some dimensions.

This is the short list.  Many other questions must be answered, such as: will other Arab states in the Middle East, who we are told fear Iran, publicly endorse an American attack?  We shouldn’t hold our breath.

This is not an argument for “doing nothing”, the standard retort of the eager bombers.  We have at least a year, and probably more, to weigh Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions, and to rally regional and global opposition to them.  Building so-called “off ramps” for Iran on the nuclear highway is currently underway. 

In the meantime, before the dogs of war are unleashed, this debate better be brought out into the public squares of America.  The consequences are enormous.

32 Responses to “Matters to Consider Before Launching Another War”

  1. Guerrier Elisabeth Says:

    The consequences are enormous.
    It may appear they can spread not only in the Middle East but all over the planet.
    Creating two blocks by force of circumstances.
    The world cannot let the USA remaining the dog watcher of the whole planet.
    More when this warmonger spirit is a choice made by politicians who should consider as their duty to stabilize and calm down popular hatred and irrational passions.
    This is some vicious circle where one of the “sides” if there is ever two sides must stop first.
    The peace and a decent compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems far more urgent as it is for decades now.
    Please talk louder.
    E. Guerrier

  2. Jeff Simpson Says:

    North Korea got the bomb and nothing really changed (yet..famous last words I suppose). More to the point: We used to use a strategy of deterrence during the Cold War, and it served us reasonably well.

    I believe we already have a data base with the radionuclide signatures of all the bomb material we believe is out there. If a bomb goes off somewhere, we therefore know which nation-state manufactured it, and we will have our target. Unilateral preemption is too costly and too easy to forge, as we have now seen with Iraq.

    Before we run headlong into a third war in the Middle East, I would like to see a reinstitution of the draft. I say this as a parent of soon-to-be-draft-age children, if only because I want the sons and daughters of the chickenhawks to share the burden of serving, or the shame of the hypocrisy at not-serving.

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  6. Forest Book Says:

    It is this simple for me: It is upon us all: Each one of us Globally, who see the requirement to choose the works of need, over the uselessness of war. We the citizens of our beloved nation, and the world see the necessity for the hard works of renewal and a victory over threats. Victory over factious dogma. We call for victory to be defined as caring service to, and for our fellow Human Beings in our mutual Human Society; A society that comprises the entirety of one Family of Humanity.

    The entire planet is now beyond the petty dictates of “sides.” We are face to face with the implementation of the essential eco:nomics of healing, renewing and encouraging this and the next generation to believe in the day to day work of being relevant; living a profoundly useful life in service to others.

    The manifestation of wisdom is all that we can afford; the wisdom of the “Living Eco:nomics of Peace.” If we have a shred of capacity for universal democratic betterment; then we are pressed to make real, “No more!” No more repetition of the horrors born of carelessness, arrogance, ignorance, apathy, or the influence of the most toxic of viruses; greed. History shows us how competition easily morphs into its true state, avarice; and how that illness always brings with it its most costly equipment: War. With war comes its dogma makers, those who send others out to fight and die while they profit; on what ever level, in what ever way.

    It is clear that the victories being begged for by the majority of human beings are the living realities of the verifiable ideals of our authentic excellent works of freedom. A truly universal and sustain able freedom. A freedom that is the living bravery to live up to, and work for bringing to life our most ardent beliefs in Peace, goodwill, care and nurturing our unified, healthful Human Society: our Family of Humanity. There lay the challenges. There lay the jobs. There in the life of Peace lay the best of our character; and the best of our blood, sweat and tears; all shed from beneficial, soul nourishing hard work.

    We can see what will happen should the United States be manipulated, or demanded to enter into yet another invasion, another strike, another operation whatever. It will be the US, the people who pay with our loved ones, and our already near squandered (deficit laden) treasure. We as a people, and our character will be made clearer to a world already war weary, catastrophe weary, and fear worn. A world struggling to believe in goodness.

    If war is to be waged: Then wage a war whose winner will be the helpful to humanity. A humanity that at the hour of this writing: Hundreds and hundreds of millions, are homeless, starving, and dying from one catastrophic event or another. Wage a war by the mobilization of doing good. Let the arms be human arms equipped with food, water, shelter, health, care, and dare I say it: Respect for another living being.

    All this applies to all those considered enemy. Who ever, or where ever you are.

  7. Robert Epstein Says:

    Considering that this article is published on a website called Matters of Principle, it is noteworthy that the the Constitutional question is the only issue of princliple mentioned – all other points are pragmatic. The real issue of principle is that bombing Iraq would be immoral and a war crime, since no country has the right to bomb another country who they say might threaten them in the future.

  8. Riikka Söyring Says:

    my name is Riikka Söyring, and I am from Finland. Hope it does not disqualify me from taking part in the discussion of the US wars.

    I have tried to read as much as I can -taking into consideration also the background of each newspaper ie. it´s owners, their connections, board of directors and the values the paper states to honour- about the situation in the US, and I must say I am worried.

    As examples I´ll give HR 875, The Press Freedom Act, Patriot Act, Home Security and somewhat worrying suggestion called The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act.

    From Finland it looks like that all this was planned long ago in pursuance of the US geopolitic agenda to get a grip of the resources such as oil, lithium, other minerals, ground water etc.
    Also NATO has forbidden to destroy the opium plants and heroin refineries in Afghanistan, of which products about 32% goes to Russia and stays there. The russians are aware of this,´I should think.

    I said few years ago that Iran is next in line to be “liberated”; a conclusion which was easy to make by reading newspapers(and looking a map). I was told that US and Iran are allies. I stayed sceptical.

    Finland´s Foreign Minister Aleksander Stubb is eagerly for NATO (and NWO), at least in his Chatham House speeches, but he does not have support in this from the people of Finland.

    Why is it, that America we all used to look upon as an example of freedom and citizen´s rights has turned into a playground of banksters and worse?

    Now I am waiting Osama B. to reincarnate in Pakistan so that the US gets an excuse with which it can legitimaze an invasion in Pakistan, because without doing so, you´ll never survive Afghanistan.

    To me it looks like you´re paying (from the tax-monies)to your army and then to have an enemy for the army, that is, talebans and Al-Qaeda and islamists and communists and what not, if the tales are true about different agencies´s expenditure.

    Note: I am a perfectly ordinary mother and wife from the dark woods of Finland so I ask you to pardon me for my not-perfect english.

  9. Tomas Agee Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Senator Hart, Mr. Epstein, Mr. Simpson and Ms. Guerrier. Now is the time to start the hollering. Thanks all. Gives hope.

  10. Fred Says:

    Gary Hart is correct on the constitution.

    All the practical problems he mentions are also valid.

    BUT: They will all get worse after Iran has nuclear weapons. Much worse. Need I remind you Iran is also developing ballistic missiles to deliver them?

    Iran’s holocaust denial, antisemitism, embassy-invading, nuke-hiding, and so on are all irrational. The only rational interpretation of Iran’s behavior is a drive for a Middle East oil monopoly — a clear casus belli for the US and Europe.

    We have a choice of seeing an irrational Iran or a rational, lethal enemy. If irrational, we cannot assume they will not start a nuclear exchange. If in a “Rational” pursuit of a petroleum empire, war is inevitable; better that it be a non-nuclear war.

    Iran has no enemies that are waiting around until after Iran has nukes to attack. If Iran needed deterrence they’d have been attacked by now. Saddam was their only enemy and he is gone. Since the weapons are not defensive they are offensive.

  11. Gary Hart Says:

    To Mr. Epstein: In the blog world it is often necessary to assume the obvious, in this case further arguments on principle, and try to persuade those who, like Fred, will inevitably make the “pragmatic” case;
    To Fred: the Soviet Union had many nuclear warhead missiles, as does China today, and we didn’t/don’t bomb them. Iran is not so irrational as to believe it can use nuclear weapons with being hit with them in retaliation.
    And to Ms. Soyring: you are very welcome on this page and your thoughts are well worth consideration by those of us here. It would be instructive if more Americans heard the opinions of others around the world who take our profession of principles seriously.

  12. Gary Hart Says:

    Correction: Iran is not so irrational as to believe it can use nuclear weapons without being hit with them in retaliation.

  13. Bette S Baysinger, B.S. Says:

    Dear Mr. Hart,
    1. Exactly, go back to find where something was presumed, assumed, or Reality was suspended to rationalize some thing, action. Then either fix the thing that the run around was made because of, or stop ignoring what was Intended. Greed is a place to start the search for the “errors”, in my opinion.

    2. If our economy is so fragile, it is so BECAUSE of our addiction to oil that allows us to let a corporation (they are people too now, right?) poke around in deep water like a desperate junkie digging for a vein. It is because of GREED as the Elite (The Federal Reserve Bank members) have NO economic problems, they are just peachy keen, because of US.

    3. Bring our people home!

    4. Bring our people home alive!

    5. Bring our people home alive, now!

    Please, and thank you.

  14. Forest Book Says:

    Fred: Why, or how does Saudi Arabia always go unmentioned in these discussions? Its role, and the role of its newest headquartered corporation: Halliburton? Their affluent influence in our government?

  15. Debbie Lackowitz Says:

    Oh yes. Definitely. Please let’s think before we act! And yes, we HAVE gone past the twist here. We now just ‘go forth’ without questioning. In fact Sir, WHO do we actually think we are? The drawdown in Iraq was stunning the other night. But I felt no celebration. Yes, our troops (at least SOME of them) are coming home! Yeah! But what about those left? And those in Afghanistan? Left behind? Sure. And to Riikka Soyring; first of all, please don’t apologize for your English! Ma’am, it was just fine. I too am just a typical wife and mom (from New York) and I’m sure the ‘dark woods of Finland’ are not really ‘dark’ right now. It’s still summer! I am totally amazed how you keep up with what’s going on here! As an American, I just can’t answer why we have become a playground for banksters and worse. There are many of us who try as hard as we can to elect those who won’t kowtow to them. Sometimes we get lucky. A lot of times I’m ashamed to say we fail. Why? Because we get caught up in distractions. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. Thank you for saying you looked up to us. Is our time of leadership over? I sure hope not! There are many of us who DO want our country back (and I don’t mean in the Tea Party sense!). President Obama is trying hard. The upcoming election? Who knows? We HAVE to make it work!

  16. ginger topie Says:

    As is wellknown, the push for attacking Iran is emanating from the Israelis, her Israel Lobby, and her Neocons. This is the same group that coerced and lied us into attacking Iraq and there is precious little resistance to these groups coercing us into this Israeli/American attack on Iran

    It is as if there was a Neocon Coup that seized power after 9-11 and this coup is still in power and has not been yet overthrown

    A first step would be to identify the forces pushing this next war against Iran as Israel, her Israeli Lobby, and her Neocons so the American people can start becoming educated as to the reasons we are literally being driven to war

    Knowledge is a good thing – lets help the American people realize who is driving us over the cliff to this next disaster

  17. Dick Cohen Says:

    You do not understand the Arabian Mind. They do not think like we do. They are like children who cry and scream when denied anything. They will plead and say they give up when they are down and then stab you in the back when you release them. Any attempt to please them is a sign of weakness to them. They have contempt even for a smile from a Westerner. The thought of having a nuclear weapon in Iran is like giving a violent killer a couple of drinks to calm him down. All your wishes for “peace” just leads to division in the West and will result in unpreparedness like we witnessed before Pearl Harbor.

  18. Reza Says:

    About the argument that Iran is eager to use a nuclear weapon if it had them and on Israel? In my opinion it is totally counter to everything the Iranians have tried to achieve, i.e to be a champion for the oppressed people (Palestinians).
    So is it likely that they would kill both the Israelis and Palestinians in such a move?.. while at the same time destroying(making radioactive) the third holiest site in Islam (which is in Jereusalem).
    If anyone had half a brain, it would be clear that destroying a muslim holy site would not bring Iran any prestige/status in the muslim world, and that is something Iran’s leaders do care about. So there is no need to use fear mongering in gaining political aims. Iranians are united and even a democratic Iran is going to continue enrichment… so get used to it.

  19. Konstantin Doren Says:

    The demonization of potential enemies is such an old propaganda trick that I am constantly amazed we fall for it time and time again. While I agree with you Senator Hart, I think your constitutional argument will not be persuasive enough.

    It is little noted in America that Iran has hostile armies in countries along its western and eastern borders. Plus those armies are from a country that nearly everyday, for many years, has discussed attacking Iran or that has discussed using (or going along with) a major ally in the region to bomb Iran. Iran would be insane not to seek to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.

    Your approach is reasoned and careful, but no longer convincing to the majority of the American people. Nor will it be a useful tool in calming the agitation for war among the elite policy makers. I pray to all the powers that might exist I am wrong, but I am not. Unless Iran, in its own interest, finds an alternative to nuclear weapons to provide a defense for itself, we are clearly heading for war there.

    When a man as articulate and careful with words as President Obama says, as he did in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, that evil exists, it makes me like feel we are sailors on the Pequod. It scares me to think we are in the midst of fighting a phantom. Iran is an old country and very much amenable to reasonable agreements (one of the loudest beaters on the war drums, Elliot Abrams, knows this from experience); it wouldn’t have lasted so long without being a shrewd negotiator.

    America has acquired a taste for war and such an appetite is only quenched when fed defeat. We are enterprising, optimistic and eager, but we have yet to acquire wisdom. I do not want to be the voice of doom, but we will not succeed in blunting the call to arms if we use the constitutional argument. The “war on terrorism” has given us license to proceed without such legal niceties as “The Constitution”. I do not know what will work, but you are a smart fellow and I hope you, and other like minded commentators, can offer up an argument that will keep us from learning too much about the downsides of war.

  20. Gary Hart Says:

    In response to Mr. Cohen: Of the very few things I have learned in a relatively long life, among them is the danger of generalizing about the “mind” of any complex and diverse set of people, including the Arabs. As the original blog notes, Iranians are not Arabs; they are Persians. And they are resisted on many fronts by Arab nations, as witnessed by the decade long Iranian-Iraqi war (where we attempted, with spectacular incompetence, to play both sides). And as much as I wish for peace, I don’t recall doing so in the blog under discussion.

  21. Riikka Söyring Says:

    Thank You, Mr. Hart, for welcoming me into this discussion.

    From Scandinavia it oddly looks like many of the so called terrorist-acts (car-bombs, kidnappings and such)in Europe were planned and/or executed by so called stay behind-armies, not islamists, and those that were done actually by islamists were planned elsewhere so the islamists acted as a front for deeper purposes.

    These stay behind-armies were originally built in European countries by US and UK to fight communism after the WW II, and it is known that these stay behind-armies were also set in neutral countries. The Soviets of course did the same. Thus Europe has had an underground war going on from at least 1950´s.

    But this is not a problem only in Europe. One should consider the possibility that this is so also in the US, that is: governments seem to need threats to justify certain actions, and if there´s not any real threat available, they create one, whether it be internal or external.
    This is what our government is trying to do at the moment, and it just perfectly correlates with the international aims of taking away the liberties and rights of citizens.

    By looking at the map one might surmise that if US moves to Pakistan, Iran and some other geopolitically important countries, Russia and China will surely react. Personally I think that China, Russia and US have already negotiated a New Deal of world ie. how everything will be shared afterwards but before things get to that point, there must be a showdown of power.

    Iran was chosen to be the “quilty party”, and now warmongering has started.

    For example: the planned Ground Zero-mosque; from Finland it looks like a bait. To grow hatred, suspicions and a sense of deep injustice, even sacrilege in a way.
    Some sources claim that the mosque-plan is actually financed by Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation, and that the american muslims say they do NOT want the mosque.
    So WHY was the subject brought up just now? Who´s to gain?

    sincerely, Riikka Söyring, Finland

    ps. the finnish experts doing research with forest´s yearly growth say that everything´s perfectly normal compared to earlier data = no climate change is coming. The Nature should know 😉

  22. Riikka Söyring Says:

    United Nations published “Our Global Neighbourhood” in 1995. The publication was financed by Comission on Global Governance; Rockefellers, Maurice Strong &al.

    Which leads to a question: Has anything really changed since George W. Bush?
    Same people that were advising him to try to become a global power/imperium are still active in the US and global politics.

  23. Dick Cohen Says:

    If you were taught from early childhod to hate the ‘complex and diverse’ people of the West and Israel how could you handle those hated people? With our system of ‘justice’! Go and live in any Arab or Persian country then come home and tell me about their minds. The minds that were taught that torture is an accepted daily government policy. Be sure to take your wife and female children with you.

  24. Fred Alavi Says:

    The biggest threat to US is not Iran, or, its perceived capacity to disrupt oil supplies from the Persian Gulf. The biggest threat to our security emanates from special interest groups that through their contributions and lobbying would want US to yet go forward and start another war, irrelevant of the fact that we neither want war, nor can we afford it, or, have the men and the resources to conduct one, or, that our national security has been threatened or attacked!

    These groups should remember that they are Americans first (most) and whatever they represent, falls into a distant second place of priority, what is good for the country would be good for them as well in the long run. Starting, another war, under any guise is nothing short of United States becoming tools for someone else’s policies and profits. Inherently this is a very wrong decision making process for US, a democracy who prides itself in promoting equality, liberty and fairness in the world.

  25. Bjorn Says:

    I read your post following a link from the American Conservative magazine’s online blog. I read some of your other blog posts and found them to be quite interesting. I’m looking forward to reading more from you, and I invite you to take a look at the exciting political thought produced by the “Alternative Right”, especially at the I think you would find many kindred spirits.

  26. laurelle Says:

    has Gary considered that the Israeli and US defence industries are very pronounced in the rationale for a military strike?
    does the issue not require regulating defense industry on the regional level for systemic application of nuclear technology in terms of causal resource management rather than defense?
    has he considered that Israel does npot want this, that Iran might well prefer more oil exports rather than clean energy efficiencies; and the US especially doesn’t want to reign in its defence industry, nor its application within the Middle East. Has he considered that US defence industry fuels the conficts in the Midddle East, rather than Iranian nuclear technology?

  27. Jeff Simpson Says:

    Dick, You have clearly made up your mind, and no amount of appealing to your sense of charity appears to be possible at this point. Perhaps you would be more comfortable espousing your views on the Washington Times website. I used to go there and comment (as one very much in the minority) with the naive hope that some readers there would be open-minded enough to do a little soul-searching, but I was largely wrong. Perhaps this is the same phenomenon: closed-mindedness. Every population has a small fraction of zealots, jingoists, and demagogues. The Washington Times concentrates them, as do radical Muslim clerics. Neither speaks for the majority, although both claim to do so. I can still hope that our radical minorities will not succeed in permanently commandeering control of ships of state. Populism fueled by a well-informed majority is the key. At that point, only the facts need be established, and these facts hopefully can be ascertained with objectivity and not blind allegiance to some subtler, more venal cause. Ultimately we need to admit that we all crave security. It is just how we seek to attain those goals that separates us.

  28. Dick Cohen Says:

    Unfortunately our lives are not in the hands of rational and civilized folks. When the coming deflation (depression) hits all bets are off. Then the radicals will take over and we can say goodbye to the Blacks, Browns and Jews. So sad, but just look at history. Think you can do anything to help? Lotsa luck!

  29. Gary Hart Says:

    It is curious that, by merely suggesting there are questions to be answered before starting a third war in the Middle East/Asia, rather strong opinions are then issued about who does and who does not understand how the world works. We invaded Iraq to get rid of an “evil dictator” at a time when there were about 40 evil dictators in the world. Why was Saddam more evil than, say, Robert Muggabe? Should it be US policy to bomb any country developing nuclear technology or only those with oil? Raising questions, especially about making war (yet again) is not an exercise in naivete. A large number of concerned citizens asking serious questions of their elected officials is the hallmark of democracy.

  30. Fred Alavi Says:

    Dear Senator,

    The oil producing region of the Middle East, mainly in and around the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, account for over 40% of the flow of crude to the world markets. Even though international for profit corporations ( known as the 7 sisters in the 50’s and 60’s), are in the business of crude oil and gas extraction, refining and marketing, governments of key Western nations have been inextricably attached to support of such commercial endeavors. CIA engineered coup d’état and downfall of Premier Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 along with reinstatement of Shah in Tehran demonstrates this tie, among others.
    This type of policy of course would make sense if governmental support was in defense of our greater national interests, however, the question begs to be asked as to the applicability of this proposition in view of our actions covering the span of the past four decades. Are we, and by that I mean our national security interests, more secure in that region of the world than we were 40 years ago? Without going into details, the answer is an unequivocal negative!
    United States by entering directly into conflict, or, supporting conflict in the Middle East has not gained security or deep ties to any of the regional powers there. Despite friendly “declared” relations with most of regional Arab governments, the Arab street remains anti American (several Western surveys shows that the negative trend actually is worsening year by year to boot!). Herein lies the recruitment ground for all that wish us harm, its within these discontented masses that Al-Qaeda recruits its terrorists.
    The anomaly with Iran is that the Iranian street, despite its governments anti-American rhetoric and slogan chanting paid demonstrators at rallies, remains America friendly.
    The challenge for our leadership in this country is to develop a policy that could attract and benefit from this friendship while weakening forces of oppression in Iran that attempt to squash and dismantle it.
    Pandering to special interest groups and following foreign policy of others in the Middle East have gained us nothing but troubles we face today. We need to change underlying patterns that brings us to one alternative at every junction that we feel our interests are being threatened, violence and war! There is a better roadmap, one that comes through collaborative work and long range planning, one that requires diplomatic skill and patience as well as diligence.
    I hope and pray that with Iran we make the right choice

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