The Warfare State: Considering a Military Attack in a Fourth Muslim Country

For all the louche talk about the U.S. bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities, there is one salient fact that seems to escape the public's attention: there is no legitimacy for it. The various U.N. resolutions enjoining Iran to become more forthcoming about its nuclear program do not contain a specific threat to use force against that country. (N.B. The talks between Iran and the Six Powers on June 18-19 in Moscow failed to produce a breakthrough. Technical experts from both sides will now meet early next month to see if there is a basis for further high-level meetings). Israel, which carries the memory of the Jewish people and the completely unprovoked horrors of the Holocaust, has every justification for feeling existentially threatened by the apocalyptic rhetoric of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad calling for the destruction of Israel (seconded, it must be noted, by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, though less bombastically). The United States does not have such a justification. And the United States is not Israel. Very few bona fide experts on the Middle East believe that Iran is suicidal, as it would be if it sought to employ nuclear weapons against Israel. Prof. Kenneth Waltz, in an article entitled, "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb," in the July-August 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, observed that, "History shows that when countries acquire the bomb, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware that their nuclear weapons make them a potential target in the eyes of major powers. This awareness discourages nuclear states from bold and aggressive action." Whether or not the U.S. joined in an Israeli bombing of Iran, it would be blamed for it, and it would be seen throughout the world as America's fourth military intervention in a Muslim country. First there was Afghanistan, initially justified, unnecessarily prolonged; then Iraq, under what turned out to be a false pretext concerning weapons of mass destruction; and then Libya, where America's support "from behind" proved absolutely essential to the success of the air campaign that helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Perhaps we should take a step back and ask ourselves: Where are we going? Do we want to continue down this route? Are we indeed becoming a "warfare state"?