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Laurence J. Kotlikoff

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Time for Congress to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran

Posted: 02/10/2012 10:59 am

Pursuant to my decision to run for president on the www.americanselect.org platform, this is the latest of a series of blogs laying out my domestic and foreign policy positions. Today's blog indicates the next step I feel is appropriate in dealing with the nuclear threat posed by Iran.

Time for Congress to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran

Successive administrations have warned Iran that it would not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons.

President Clinton's first Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, stated: "Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons... pose enormous dangers. Every responsible member of the world community has an interest in seeing those efforts fail. There is no room for complacency."

President Bush promised to eliminate the nuclear threat emanating from Iran, stating that "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations... For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

And President Obama stated, "(My) administration will do everything we can to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon... Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said: "...Our red line to Iran is to not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us."

Unfortunately, neither these implied military threats nor the economic sanctions imposed to date have deterred Iran in its ongoing effort to develop nuclear bombs and the means of their delivery. Indeed, Iran has, it appears, responded to the warnings and economic sanctions by accelerating its development of nuclear weapons. Iran is also allegedly working on long-range missiles that could deliver nuclear explosives to major U.S. cities. Iran apparently already has missiles capable of hitting major cities as well as U.S. bases in the Middle East and Europe.

The President's current policy involves significantly raising the economic pressure on Iran to elicit compliance. But economic sanctions, no matter how tough, are not likely to succeed within the short time left -- an estimated year -- before Iran has acquired sufficient nuclear material to make several bombs.

Nor is the Iranian regime likely to be deterred by more stringent economic sanctions even if their development of nuclear weapons will take longer than one year. A regime that forced tens of thousands of children to clear mine fields with their bodies is not going to be deterred by economic shortages that will affect the general population, but that will surely leave top leaders untouched.

The president has stated that the U.S. is working "in lockstep" with Israel on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This statement means that should Israel attack Iran's nuclear weapons facilities, the Iranians will view the attack as coming from the U.S. no less than from Israel.

We should not ask Israel to fight our wars for us. Our national security is our own responsibility. If Iran poses an existential security threat to the United States, as the last three administrations have stated, it's up to the United States to make sure that whatever military action is taken is sufficient to protect our country for the long term.

In my view, only military action or the assurance of imminent military action will eliminate the threat to our country posed by Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

To make crystal clear that military action is imminent and enjoys wide political support, the president should immediately request from Congress a resolution authorizing the use of all force necessary and for as long as necessary to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons acquisition program.

A Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force would not constitute a declaration of war. Our intent is not to go to war with Iran. Our intent is to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat to our country and our allies.

A Congressional resolution would also give the president the public support he needs and deserves in confronting Iran with the only language it appears to understand -- force.

 

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