Those who can’t wait to start a war with Iran tell us that Tehran is within three seconds, three months, or a year of developing a nuclear weapon. I promise you they don’t know this for anything near a fact.
Now, are these activities something to worry about? Absolutely! But it is not a basis for going to war now or soon. It is a basis for Americans, Israelis, and others to find out more as quickly as possible through better intelligence and diplomacy. Yes, diplomacy, because we can argue forever about exactly what the Iranians have and intend, but making diplomatic proposals allows us to test our hypotheses. If Tehran rejects reasonable proposals, then there are grounds for raising suspicions and waving the war wand. (Leslie Gelb – The Dangers of Warmongering)With memories still fresh of the Bush Administration’s naïve swallowing whole Achmed Chalabi’s tales of 1001 Iraqi Nights, we should be dubious of any claims made by those who want to bomb Iran now.
Mr. Gelb also cautions against getting involved in Syria, and he provides sound reasoning. We don’t know who the Syrian rebels are; we could be arming and aiding Al Qaeda. What if they win? Will they press on to threaten allies Jordan and Israel? There are too many unknowns and a furious fusillade of unintended consequences await.
I respect these worries, but I find myself leaning towards a Libya-like involvement in Syria if for no other reason than to cut off Iranian access to The Levant and the greater Middle East. Without Syria, Iran is isolated, and their proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon and other places are isolated as well. It would deal a punishing blow to Iran without firing one shot at them.
Yes, it could unleash other furies, but the involvement of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and small but mighty Qatar could help contain them. One thing that would certainly have to be done would be a guaranteed safe enclave for Christians, Alawites and other minorities. This is key to peeling Alawite support away from Assad. They are literally fighting for their lives, being a small minority that has been oppressing the Sunni majority. The Alawites are an off-shoot from the bigger offshoot, the Twelver Shia. So even among heretics, they are heretics.
Regardless of how you come down on these issues, Leslie Gelb has some sage advice concerning warmongering “experts”:
Americans need protection from these snake-oil salesmen, and that protection depends almost entirely on Congress and the media. They have got to be much tougher with the experts, pin them down on what they know and don't know and what facts their views are based on. They've got to demand real answers, and not let the experts escape with slogans like “lead” and “take action,” or “that will all work out.”Beware those beating wardrums who have never been to war -- Kurt Silverfiddle
David Warren - Iran Won't Go Away