Sunday, January 6, 2013

Post #387 - Smart Moves...or Dumb and Dumber?

The other day, in the Washington Post, there appeared an article by former NSC chair Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped normalize relations with China and broker the Camp David Accords.  His article was headed "The 'Stupidest' War?."  The title is a reference to the assessment of former Mossad head Meir Dagan, who called recommendation of a military strike "the stupidest thing I have ever heard."  Though the subhead ("The implications of a U.S. attack on Iran deserve closer scrutiny") is circumspect, one senses that Brzezinski might well agree with the spymaster's judgement.

Brzezinski cites the upcoming hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the likely rise in pressures on President Obama to act, coming from "foreign and extremist" sources (read:  Israel, AIPAC and the neocons).  He cites several  "implications" that ought not to be neglected in the push to act:

Credibility:  the magnitude of the threat one is seeking to mitigate; in other words, how likely various future scenarios are, in terms of Iranian use of a nuclear weapons capability; 

Justification:  in an international context, whether a strike can be persuasively defended as right, proper, legal and proportional;

Cost-benefit:  what will a strike accomplish (including effects on the Iranian people themselves, some of which would inevitably be unintended and lamentable), weighed against what both short-term and long-term negative consequences might be -- Iranian response as well as regional or global fall-out;

Alternatives:  the possibilities of finding of another path that might achieve the same strategic goals with fewer unwanted costs and ongoing problems.

The possible costs Brzezinski offers for our consideration include:  condemnation of the United States by the United Nations, a significant rise in oil prices, an improvement of Russia's position in relation to the United States, "prolonged hatred" of us among Iranians, to say nothing of immediate destruction and loss of life, and radioactive fall-out a la Chernobyl.

He ends with this conclusion:

"A serious discussion of these issues by the...Committee may help generate a firmer national consensus that a reckless shortcut to war -- which is favored now by neither the American people nor the Israeli public -- is not the wisest response to a potentially grave crisis."

It is not too late to chart a different course, but one of these will be. 


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