Sunday, June 17, 2007

Liberal Hawks and the Iran Debate

Ezra Klein over at The American Prospect recently wrote an article called "Let's Get Serious:
What do liberal hawks actually want to do regarding Iran?" that has stirred an interesting cross blog debate amongst moderates. Allow me to sort of abridge part of the debate in a Frankenpost before chiming in.

Mr Klein criticizes liberal hawks for being intentionally vague regarding how to deal with Iran
"in their desire to avoid responsibility for their pro-war stance on Iraq and their enabling rhetoric towards a potential showdown with Iran." as Tutakai at Militant Moderates put it.

According to fellow Donklephant blogger Kevin Sullivan "Ironically, Klein seems to confront hawkish vagueness with vagueness. He insinuates that there's a cottage industry of "liberal hawk" scholars supporting the invasions of Iraq and Iran, however he only cites one example of such. If the "liberal hawk" has become such a common phenomenon, where are their think-tanks and periodicals? If they are in such lockstep over this issue, why only the one example? The truth is that the "liberal hawk" is more a theory than a person, and more accurately a tactic rather than a wing of the Democratic Party. "

and over at TMV MVDG contends: "As a more conservative blogger (hawk), I have to say that I agree with Kevin’s reasoning. The problem with the doves is that they oppose using military force, because it is military force. For us hawks, military force is a tool - a tool you will only use when all other tools fail on you, but a tool nonetheless.

I find it incredibly strange that there are people who want the US government, or individual candidates, to rule out (supporting) the use of force. If one rules it out completely, one can forget about getting one’s enemy to do what one wants / to compromise. Iran has to know that, if necessary, force will be used to prevent it from developing WMDs. If not, there will be less pressure on the Mullahs to stop ignoring the wishes of the international community."

I contend that "liberal hawks" are vague about military options in Iran because there is no preferable military solution. Should diplomacy and international pressures fail the military options left to us will only be a choice of evils. We can :
  1. Bomb Iran's hardened nuclear sites.
  2. Invade Iran
  3. Let Israel fight a proxy war with Iran
  4. Invade North Korea to show Iran how serious we are
Option one may only have limited success and will cause Iran to step up their research efforts resulting in a nuclear bomb in 5 years instead of 9. Additionally Israel will most likely be targeted in retaliation thereby potentially bringing option three into play as a side effect. If not then suddenly Iraq and Afghanistan become indirect wars with Iran potentially leading to a direct war with Iran.

Option two is worse. Provided we are finished in Iraq and Afghanistan (one way or the other) the goal would be achievable but at a hideous toll in Iranian lives. If you'll check out the history of the Iran/Iraq war you'll note that Iran used four million unarmed citizens (volunteers) as cannon fodder. Iraq's soldiers ran out of bullets before they ever engaged an armed soldier.

Additionally since we would have again preemptively invaded a country that didn't (directly) attack us and probably killed hundreds of thousands of unarmed citizens in the process our standing in the world drops to nothing. Additionally because we have invaded three Muslim countries in a row we radicalize even more people either the war on terror gets much harder, we fight a foreign insurgency in Iran, or both.

As for option three Israel fights Hammas, Hezbollah, and Iran at the same time and America enters if it appears Israel can't pull it off or should the war goes regional.

We have time right now and we absolutely must use it to exhaust every single diplomatic and international option before moving on to a military solution.

We can't take the use of force off of the table unless it is conditional based on Iran's actions (allowing UN Inspectors access to all sites etc etc etc). It would be folly to hamstring ourselves in such manner as much as it would be foolhardy to militarily escalate the situation before exhausting all other available options.

May common sense prevail.