Perhaps it is a combination of closer-to-home concerns and widespread Middle East unrest that has allowed the compelling threat of Iranian nuclear belligerency to slink from the forefront of public foreign policy discourse. It seems that it wasn't long ago that the sense of urgency over the matter was more pronounced, and yet now it appears to be largely relegated to lip service or afterthought status. Even within the realm of nuclear nonproliferation activism one can sense a degree of enervation over the issue.
However the developing picture rapidly coming into focus is that there is a bourgeoning case for the expedient invasion of Iran. Never has there been as much to gain -- and as much at stake -- and never has there been a more opportune moment as now.
A July 2, Wall Street Journal article, entitled "Iran Funnels New Weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan," asserts that 'Iraq has in recent years been a proxy battlefield for the U.S. and Iran,' adding that 'Military officials and defense analysts cite Iran as a prime justification for extending the U.S. presence' in Iraq. The author also notes, as has been documented, that 'Iran has grown increasingly aggressive in trying to influence the political rebellions across the Middle East and North Africa,' saying that 'in recent months, according to U.S. officials, Iran has also increased its intelligence and propaganda activities in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.'
Of course the U.S. and the international community have directed significant resources to all of these vital fronts. But it was an active U.S. serviceman expressing his personal thoughts to me this week who said that "we need to go after the head of the snake, and it's time we stopped chasing shadows in Afghanistan and fought a real war."
Last Thursday on The Daily Show the matter came to the fore when host Jon Stewart commented to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, "In terrorism we play whack-a-mole" concluding in Yiddish "isn't our whole strategy farkakteh"? Kristol responded by explaining that "there is no one solution for each part of the world." But maybe there is? Instead of chasing Iranian tentacles as they emerge around the globe, wouldn't the most effective strategy be to slay Medusa?
Even amongst the proponents of interventionism and its theorists, a full-scale invasion of Iran is far from popular, yet the limited effectiveness of air strikes, either American or Israeli, has been widely acknowledged. Last year, commenting in TIME magazine, Joe Klein mentioned an assessment by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, that airstrikes "could take out some of Iran's nuclear facilities, but there was no way to eliminate all of them. Some of the nuclear labs were located in heavily populated areas and others were deep underground." Additionally, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy documented the significant threat of retaliation when they conducted a day-long simulation of the diplomatic and military fallout that could result from an Israeli military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
Although from a military perspective, the Iranian Army is superior to that of Iraq in 2003, the country is well-known to be internally weak as evidenced by the recent green revolution uprisings. Additionally, being as Iraq and Afghanistan effectively sandwich Iran between them, there is a greater opportunity to incorporate surprise elements in an invasion. Among the many options is the possibility for military columns to rapidly advance in a pincer movement across the country, cutting off the north from the south. Additionally Iran's reliable partner in crime, Syria, is currently in no position to lend any serious assistance whatsoever.
Internationally, the support for stunting Iran's nuclear program and the spread of its malicious meddling is widespread throughout the Western world, as well as the Islamic one. The full extent of which was only disclosed through Wikileaks, revealing that both Saudi King Abdullah and King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa of Bahrain are among the Arab leaders who have lobbied the United States to strike Iran. In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has even indicated that it might be compelled to pursue a nuclear weapons program of its own if Iran is allowed to continue, in an effort to balance regional influence.
The weak domestic economy brings possible concern over America's ability to sustain further military efforts, but as David Broder wrote last year in the Washington Post, "Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II." He continued, " With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, (President Obama) can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve."
The anti-war movement often uses the slogan 'bring our troops home,' insinuating that they may be tired, weary or fed up with the challenges that they have been presented by their country. But they underestimate the mettle of America's heroes. Soldiers that I have spoken to are insulted by the suggestion, "the U.S. army is all volunteer" one told me, "those who sign up know what they are in for." Adding regarding Iran, that "a fresh battle against a known enemy would be a good change of pace for us; it's only the American public that's tired of the fight for our ideals."
Make no mistake, it would be a costly battle on many fronts, and possibly the greatest U.S. military challenge since World War II. Consider, however, what is at stake: no less than the future stability of the world order as we know it. The lives, safety, freedom and security of individuals and nations across the globe. If this is indeed the war to end all Middle East wars, we know with certainty that it will not be fought in vain.