Janesville55.3°

Pro: Attack will cost U.S. most of its few remaining allies

Print Print
John B. Quigley
November 2, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, “Would a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities severely damage America’s standing in the international community?”

The White House “Hate America” Department is at it again. The department is worried that we still have a few allies, and that a few people beyond our shores still like us and don’t want to do us in.


The department, which reportedly operates out of the vice president’s office, has come up with a scheme to drive away our few remaining well-wishers, and to generate more anti-American terrorists.


The scheme is simple. Drop bombs on Iran. Iran may be working toward getting nuclear weapons, so bombing Iran might also nip its nuclear ambitions in the bud. Anyway, Iran is already a charter member of the Axis of Evil. And its president badmouths us whenever he gets near a microphone.


What could be the downside? Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going swimmingly. Congress has plenty of spare cash for another supplemental appropriation. One more war in the Middle East will be icing on the cake.


And if a war against Iran drags on, not to worry. Let the next president, perhaps a Democrat, pick up the pieces. It will serve the Democrats right for criticizing the Iraq policy.


The scheme would be a logical sequel to the policy of prior administrations on Iran. Back in the 1950s, Iran had a parliamentary government, democratically elected. Iran was a beacon of democracy in the Middle East.


But when Iran moved—mildly to be sure—in the direction of taking control of its oil from Western oil companies, we overthrew the democratic government. When it came down to a choice between oil and democracy, our priority was clear.


The government we brought to power in Iran had its blemishes. No one accused it of being democratic. A backlash developed, which culminated in 1979 in the ascendance to power of clerics bent on getting rid of our influence.


The idea of being militantly anti-American soon caught the imagination of the youth throughout the Middle East. If America insisted on putting its stamp on the region, they would fight back.


Other countries understand the folly of an American attack on Iran. We should be listening to friendly governments on this one. Even the allies who sent troops into Iraq are getting them out while they can. They are opposed to a U.S. war against Iran.


Iran has a younger generation now that is not enamored of clerical rule, a kind of counter-backlash. If we attack Iran, Iran’s youth may turn in their blue jeans for clerical robes.


Iran may or may not be moving in the direction of nuclear weaponry. It says it is working toward civilian nuclear uses only. Even if it is working toward military use, it is not very close.


Our allies are inclined to press for inspections, and to pressure Iran in other ways. Iran has not been deaf to these entreaties.


Even Russia is trying to put the brakes on Iran’s program. No one outside the United States sees a need for military action.


It is hard to foresee what an attack on Iran would produce in the long term. We have a knack for action that seems to make sense for a particular purpose, but then turns out badly. We gave weapons to a young fellow named Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to get the Soviets out of that country. He did a good job. But the aftermath was worse.


Whatever risk Iran may pose, and it is not clear that it does, a military attack is not the solution. The immediate consequences are easy to predict. We further inflame feelings against us in the Middle East, and beyond. The resulting anti-American sentiment makes it more difficult for our allies to support us. “Hate America” is the slogan of the day.


John B. Quigley is a professor of law at The Ohio State University. Readers may write to him at The Michael E. Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University, 55 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43210, or e-mail him via Quigley.2@osu.edu.

Print Print