08/23/2010 10:56 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Matters to Consider Before Launching Another War

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.

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