April 28, 2010


The Bomb Squad: The only thing worse than a U.S. attack on Iran would be an Israeli one. (Michael Crowley, April 21, 2010, New Republic)

Obviously, a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear march would be vastly preferable to a military one. And even if, as seems likely, tough international sanctions are either unattainable or fail to change Iran’s course, it may well be that air strikes aren’t worth the potentially terrible consequences. Yet if someone is going to bomb Iran, it shouldn’t be Israel. It should be America.

The main reason is simple: America is in a far better position to cripple Iran’s nuclear program. Consider the analysis of a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities published last year by Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The authors imagined a scenario where Israeli jets flew through southern Turkish airspace and then cut across Iraq’s northern tip to strike several facilities within Iran. Toukan and Cordesman were not optimistic about the results. “[I]t would be complex and high risk in the operational level and would lack any assurances of a high mission success rate,” they concluded. Israel would face an array of problems, they argue, from the limited range of its aircraft—requiring multiple refuelings—to the limited ability of its warheads to penetrate Iran’s deeply buried nuclear facilities.

By contrast, last month Toukan and Cordesman released a similar report, this one examining a possible American attack on Iran. Their assessment was far more bullish. Such an attack would involve U.S. B-2 stealth bombers based in Diego Garcia. The B-2 has exponentially longer range than Israel’s F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers. Conveniently, last summer the B-2 completed an upgrade allowing it to carry the GPS-guided 5,300-pound Massive Ordinance Penetrator bomb. And the bomber’s stealth nature will make it far less vulnerable to Iran’s air-defense system than the Israeli Air Force’s traditional jets. As Cordesman and Toukan conclude, the U.S. is “the only country that can launch a successful Military Solution."

Chuck Wald, a retired four-star U.S. Air Force General who worked on a Bipartisan Policy Center task force on Iran, argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last summer that the U.S. military option is “a technically feasible and credible option.” Perhaps most significantly, even Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen, who has often warned of the possible grave consequences of hitting Iran, conceded last weekend that a U.S. attack would “go a long way” toward setting back (though not eliminating) Iran’s nuclear program.

Just because you say "a diplomatic solution is preferable" over and over again doesn't make it true. Who benefited more, the North Koreans from the negotiated end to that war or the Japanese from our nuking them to end WWII?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2010 1:29 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus