Dear candidates: slap your speechwriter if you use “force” and “Iran” in the same sentence. Striking Iran would be, for lack of a better phrase, a cauldron of poo.
Why rattle sabers on Super Tuesday? Military rhetoric can make the rotary club sound tough. But do you really want the real thing? Try to think like a commander-in-chief or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. America presses for diplomacy for a bunch of good reasons.
Iran is nearly as big as Alaska. That’s a lot of ground to cover for strikes and reconnaissance. Local geography is a mix of desert basins, rain forests, plains and humongous mountains. Want air strikes? Blah. That’s the easy part! A kid with an Xbox can do it. But drones and Tomahawks won’t run the whole show. Fighter pilots will be involved. Some, God forbid, could get shot down. How deep into enemy territory can you risk a rescue chopper? How will you feel when images of American prisoners show up on the Internet and TV?
The Navy has also worried about entering the Persian Gulf for decades. Minefields, anti-ship missiles and gunboats are just some of the threats Iran can pop on us at the last minute. Could a carrier strike group clear those dangers without heavy casualties? They need to operate in the Gulf in order to launch effective airstrikes. Sea power can be restrained in narrow places like the Strait of Hormuz, the scene of a major showdown in any projected conflict.
Iran will lose plenty of infrastructure after a strike, but like any good rogue state, they will get better at concealment. They can sneak contraband over the border. They can call in favors. They can rebuild. They can fight back. And more importantly, they’ll become another Middle East country with a major grudge about Westerners. . . and some of that rage will get thrown back on our friends.
Cooler heads must prevail on Super Tuesday. Diplomacy isn’t a sissy. It may be the best chance to save our skins before the hammer comes down.