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The Drums Beat (Yet) Again: Re-Making the Case Against War with Iran

For the last two weeks, Michael C and I have been trying to publish an op-ed. (Actually, two different pieces, but we’re still waiting to hear back on one of them.)

This particular op-ed was about war with Iran.

As long time readers know, a few years ago we wrote a paper for the Small Wars Journal outlining the risks of a potential war with Iran. (We also wrote a gigantic, 27 post series, "The Drums Beat Again: The Case Against War with Iran".) Back in 2012 when we wrote the paper, America really seemed to be seriously considering going to war again. Michael C (and myself) did a ton of research and wrote up “War with Iran: An Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.

At the time, we considered this one of the true pieces of value we could add to the conversation. Plenty of pundits could (and did) speak about going to war; few could (or did) speak about the consequences, especially in terms of lives lost.

But potential war with Iran was replaced by possible wars with Syria, then Russia, and finally Iraq. Again.

Yet the possibility of war with Iran never seems to go away. As anyone following the news knows, many right-wing pundits and neo-conservatives have, in recent weeks, been arguing (once again) that America needs to go to war with Iran. Forty-seven senators wrote an open letter trying to ruin the chances of a nuclear deal, explaining divided government. (Fun tidbit: the Iranian foreign minister has a PhD in International relations from...the University of Denver, so he probably knows how the American government works.) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress urging America to do more to stop Iran. Finally, Joshua Muravchik wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post titled, “War with Iran is probably our best option” which bluntly stated what many conservatives had only hinted at:

America needs to bomb Iran.

So we dusted off an op-ed we originally wrote three years ago. Our thesis? That too many pundits advocate for war with Iran without outlining the potential costs. We sent it to the New York Times on March 24th. Two days later, the Times published “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” by John Bolton. No surprise, he didn’t outline the potential costs of war.

This is really unfortunate. As I wrote in January about America’s third potential war in Iraq, the media seems awfully pro-war (or pro-intervention) at times, at least before a war begins. And we believe our op-ed really explains a topic that most journalists ignore in the coverage: what would a war with Iran cost in terms of lives, both U.S. and Iranian?

What’s the worst case scenario?

Fortunately for world security--and unfortunately for us as writers--America, Iran and four additional countries agreed to broad outlines of a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program. With this, our op-ed has been rendered obsolete. That’s fine by us.

So we’ll be publish the whole op-ed this week on our blog. We still consider the core argument valid: as a country we need to discuss the potential costs of future wars in realistic terms. Considering the deal with Iran still requires final agreements to be reached by the end of June, a war with Iran could still be in our future.

And we should know the potential costs.

three comments

“the media seems awfully pro-war (or pro-intervention) at times, at least before a war begins”



“we need to discuss the potential costs of future wars
You are absolutely right; all wars are economic in origin. If you want to discover the true motivation for our wars then look no further than our ruling oligarchy. Who will profit?
It’s really that simple.

@ SO – That’s a great post. We need as many people saying it as much as possible.

@ John Patterson – Normally, I read comments like that and go, “That’s a really out there/far left thought.” At least I used to. Now, I can’t square the circle between America’s support for Saudi Arabia (Human rights abuses, support for terrorists/insurgents around the region) and opposition to Iran (basically a democracy, also supports insurgents).

The only explanation is financial ties.

But I would add something else. Instead of malice—financial greed in this case—I really do think most pundits, politicians and decision makers are true believers. They believe Iran is evil. They thought Saddam was evil.

Take, for example, global warming. Yes, the people funding climate denial research are, for the most part, the people who stand to benefit from denying it exists. At the same time, I think they’ve convinced themselves it is not happening, and truly believe “liberal environmentalists” are trying to hurt them.