Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a measure that would green-light an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The resolution, H.Res. 1553, provides explicit support for military strikes against Iran, stating that Congress supports Israel's use of "all means necessary" against Iran "including the use of military force". US military leaders have warned that strikes could be catastrophic to US national security interests and could engulf the Middle East in a "calamitous" regional war.
Nearly a third of House Republicans have signed onto the resolution, which has been publicly discussed and circulated by its lead sponsor, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), for months.
The National Iranian American Council is leading calls to oppose the measure, urging those concerned to demand that House Republican Leader John Boehner denounce the resolution.
The introduction of the measure coincides with a pattern of renewed calls for military strikes that have escalated since President Obama signed "crippling" Congressional Iran sanctions into law. Neoconservatives who were instrumental in orchestrating the Iraq War, such as Bill Kristol, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, have led the stepped up calls for military action.
Hawkish former Bush Administration official John Bolton recently laid out the game plan to prod Israel into attacking Iran, arguing that outsiders can "create broad support" for a strike by framing it as an issue of Israel's right to self defense. Supporters for military strikes, Bolton says, should "defend the specific tactic of pre-emptive attacks" against Iran. He urges that Congress can "make it clear" that it supports such strikes and that "having visible congressional support in place at the outset will reassure the Israeli government, which is legitimately concerned about Mr. Obama's likely negative reaction to such an attack."
In spite of enthusiasm from the neocons, top US military leaders have warned of the many dangers of military strikes against Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has argued, "Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels." Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has expressed his own serious reservations about an attack, stating, "Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. In an area that's so unstable right now, we just don't need more of that." General David Petraeus has warned that a strike on Iran would be utilized by the Iranian government to unite it's otherwise divided populace.
Simulations have been conducted over the past year to assess the outcome of a preemptive military strike against Iran. One such simulation, by the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, found that strikes would draw the US into the conflict that would engulf the region into war, and would enable Iran to use the attacks as an opportunity to unite the Iranian people and dismantle its opposition. The simulation also found that the strikes could not destroy Iran's nuclear program but merely set it back a few years.
An Oxford Research Group report released recently reinforced those findings and also warned that an Israeli attack would be disastrous and would be unlikely to stop Iran's nuclear program. Instead, the report concluded attacks could convince Iran to withdraw from the international Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to aggressively seek to develop nuclear weapons.
Iranian activists have urged that even raising the specter of war undercuts the opposition in Iran. "The mere fact that Obama didn't make military threats made the Green Movement possible," noted Akbar Ganji. "A military attack would destroy all of that."
Jamal Abdi is Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
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