Attack Iran? Experts Differ on If and When

Daily News Article   —   Posted on June 10, 2008

(by Josiah Ryan, CNSNews.com) – Iran’s support of Iraqi insurgents and the nuclear threat Iran poses to Israel warrants a U.S. military strike, argued former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).

But experts from the libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative Heritage Foundation urged a go-slow approach.

“Attacking Iran at this stage would be horribly premature, both in terms of the state of their nuclear program and in terms of their activities in Iraq,” said Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

“As with any country, if I were to advocate attack, I would have to be convinced that the threat that they pose to us was sufficient and that there were no other means available and that action was likely to put us in a more secure position,” he said.

“I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said on CBS’s Face the Nation on June 10, 2007. “To me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told The Telegraph on May 6, that he favors a strike on facilities where Iran is believed to be training Iraqi insurgents.

“This is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do,” Bolton said. “Then the ball would be in Iran’s court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops.”

But Jim Phillips, a senior analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told Cybercast News Service Friday that until Iran is involved in a terrorist attack against an American target somewhere other then Iraq, he would not advocate a U.S. military strike.

“I think it [attacking Iran] should remain an option, but it should only be considered once all other possibly are exhausted. It should be a last resort,” Phillips said. “It’s certainly not something I would push to do right away unless there is some kind of intelligence report I am unaware of.”

Press reports on Friday quoted Israel’s deputy prime minister as saying that Israel would attack Iran if it continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program. “Other options are disappearing,” Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying. “The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.”

But Preble and Phillips said the U.S. should try to deter Iran from its nuclear program and from its involvement in Iraq by exploring other options.

“A lot of other countries have chosen not to develop nuclear weapons even though they have the technical ability to do so. The crucial question is, why have they chosen not to do so?” said Preble.

“The U.S. has put as many economic sanctions as it can on Iran but it needs to pressure its friends and allies to follow suit. It should also be supporting separatist groups around the periphery of Iran in retaliation for Iran’s support of Iraqi insurgents,” said Phillips.

But Lieberman said that if the U.S. does not act against Iran, “they’ll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home.”

“We can tell them we want them to stop that, but if there’s any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can’t just talk to them,” Lieberman said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a press conference on Apr. 23 that Iranian involvement in the Iraq war has been responsible for up to 200 American deaths in Iraq. “What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and women inside Iraq,” he said.

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2008 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.

Questions

1.  Why is a U.S. military strike against Iran warranted, according to John Bolton and Senator Joe Lieberman?

2.  What two things would Chris Preble of the Cato Institute want to be convinced of before advocating an attack on Iran?

3.  What specifically does Sen. Lieberman think should be done to stop the Iranians from killing Americans in Iraq?

4.  Why does former U.N. ambassador John Bolton say he thinks we should bomb facilities where Iran is believed to be training Iraqi insurgents?

5.  a) Jim Phillips of The Heritage Foundation said that until Iran is involved in a terrorist attack against an American target somewhere other then Iraq, he would not advocate a U.S. military strike.  Do you agree with Mr. Phillips, or Sen. Lieberman and Ambassador Bolton, or do you have a different opinion?  Explain your answer.
b)  Ask a parent the same question.

6.  Israel’s deputy prime minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel would attack Iran if it continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program. He said: “Other options are disappearing. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.” 
a)  The Iranians have threatened to destroy Israel on numerous occasions.  Would you support an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?  Explain your answer.
b)  Ask a parent the same question.

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Background

Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002.  Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs.  Under the  NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty – the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom). In September 2006, the U.S. attempted to get the UN’s IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council with the hope that if Iran did not stop their work, the Security Council would impose sanctions on Iran to force them to comply with the NPT.  The UN did eventually impose some sanctions on Iran in December 2006 and extended the sanctions further in March 2008.

Despite the sanctions, Iran has refused to end its nuclear program.

Resources

Look at a map of the Middle East at worldatlas.com.  Consider the size of Israel compared to the other Middle Eastern (Muslim) states.