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Iran: A Dumb War Obama Should Avoid

Memo Pad

Iran: A Dumb War Obama Should Avoid


After being elected in large part because he’d opposed a “dumb” war in Iraq, President Obama finds himself confronting an even dumber one in Iran. Exponentially dumber, actually.

Dumb because like the targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists rarely cited by columnist commandoes, bombing raids alone can’t achieve the alleged goal: preventing the Ayatollahs from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. freethinker February 8, 2012

    Ok, Gene, you are against any military action against Iran to stop them from acquiring nuclear weapons. So when they do and have delivery means, are you going to depend on, ‘The Persians haven’t actually invaded anybody for more than 300 years.’ The Persians haven’t had Ayatollahs running the show before either. In their belief system, it is no shame to be a martyr. In fact, just the opposite. Since you didn’t propose an alternate plan, is it safe to assume that you would be the first to write a column saying, “I didn’t think they would actually use their bombs!” Actually, I believe you would be the first to write a column blaming Israel’s or our belligerent attitude toward them.

  2. Lead_Dog February 8, 2012

    I’t’s a shame you try to cloak your political persuasion under the guise of telling a few facts. I know left leaning writers are not taught to be as objective as possible but you might try it sometime.

  3. Lead_Dog February 8, 2012

    At least you got the Headline right. I suspect someone else wrote it.

  4. jimmyags February 8, 2012

    The funny thing about all these islamic leaders though freethinker,have you ever noticed they aren’t willing to be the martyr? They want to bomb, no doubt, but if they use one they know their time is over. When was the last time a “leader” strapped on a vest of explosives? Oh that’s right, never.

  5. ricrori32 February 8, 2012

    Iran is a threat to the whole of world, Ahmadinejad want to destroy Israel & the United States, he really believes that we’re the big Satan and Israel is the little Satan, make no mistake he will use the nukes if he’s allowed the opportunity to do so. He thinks it’s going to usher in the second coming of the Twelfth Imam. There are over twelve million Iranian believers, who are called “Twelvers”- who are the followers of the Twelfth Imam who believe that the world must enter the apocalypse before the Islamic Messiah or Mahdi will return. This Mahdi will reappear and the world will be under the total rule of Islam. Therefore when the President of Iran talks about a new world order, he is really talking about an Islamic new world order. Those who will not bow to Islam will die

  6. Common Sense Patriot February 8, 2012

    It is as apparant as the nose on your face that Iran fully intends to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. This is the ultimate power and they know the history of the U. S. when faced with the prospect of nuclear war: North Korea’s defeated armies run across the border into China after failing in their surprise attack against the south and U. S. forces (Truman even – quite correctly – sacked Gen Douglas McArthur for threatening to cross the border after the fleeing Commies. He even predicted that regarding the Chinese, “We are going to have to fight them sooner or later, anyway.” Well, he was right and wrong. We didn’t fight them directly, but we did engage in a surrogate war with them and Russia against the communists in Vietnam, which would have collapsed without Chinese and Russian aid). We also never invated the North with land troops because of the threat of Chinese or Russian intervention that would lead to nuclear war. Then there’s the takeover of most of Eastern Curope by the Russians, that started a decades long cold war because neither side wanted to risk nuclear war. So the Russians got to control those countries in the Soviet empire for close to 50 years. I’m not saying it was a bad decision. Even though after the cold war ended we found that many of Russia’s nuclear facilities were falling apart and probably incapable of delivering a nuclear warhead, some of them might have succeeded and millions would have died. Then there was Cuba, where we teetered on the edge of nuclear war with the Soviet Union because they had actually put missiles in Cuba capable of reaching the U. S. Ironically, within a few years, both sides had developed ICBMs that nothing could stop and both sides could easily destroy each other and the world, even if one launched a pre-emptive first strike. Along came MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction. And, of course, there is Russia’s disasterous invasion of Afghanistan, which became their Vietnam as we reversed the tables on them and supplied weapons to the Mujahadin Afghans (no gratitude there). Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union, whose Communist system doesn’t work economically, to the point of eventual collapse and revolt of it’s own people. So, we “won” the Cold War, at a cost of billions and tens of thousands of lives and injuries. Maybe we should have learned something about Russia’s efforts in Afghanistan. We’ve basically fought the same way and are meeting the same results. But the point is, they wouldn’t use nuclear weapons, not even tactical ones, in Afghanistan for fear of our reaction. Even China is afraid to take back Taiwan for fear we will honor our treaty and go to war with them, which could easily lead to nuclear war. Besides, they can’t afford to go to open war with a nation that owes them so much money – we wouldn’t pay! And we’re their biggest customer. Can’t lose those dollars in a country they keep under control by their Communist overlords by allowing some free enterprise and jobs (since they know Communism doesn’t work in an economic sense). I’m probably forgetting somewhere else, but the history is clear. Iran knows that once they have nuclear weapons, they can do more than posture, because we won’t risk a nuclear war with them, especially since they don’t have to hit the U. S. itself, just destroy the oil fields of their rivals in the Middle East that do business with the U. S. One strike into Saudia Arabia or Kuwait or the Arab Emirates would do us irreparable harm because we’ve never had the sense to become Energy Independent. And don’t forget, these people are fanatics, not pragmatists. There’s an old saying that, “Normal doesn’t understand insane.” Nor will we ever. You simply can’t predict what unstable religious fanatics like those in Iran will do. For crying out loud, little Al Qaeda launched an two attacks on U. S. soil and others on our embassies and other facilities all over the Middle East. Little Chechnya (almost totally Muslim) dares defy Russia, that invaded it in 1994 and are still there. But Russia won’t use nuclear weapons there because it’s Chechnyan oil they want. In fact, would we launch a nuclear war with Iran even if they launched a nuclear weapon? Doubtful. We don’t want to see their oil fields destroyed. Even though technically, the U. S. does not buy Iranian oil, they sell to the rest of the world and therefore keep a huge supply of oil flowing that if destroyed, would dramatically cause a sky high rocketing of the price of the remaining oil that we do buy. So, the only war we could launch would be a conventional one, which could be only bunker busting super bombs/missiles, but Iran is rapidly putting those deeper into the ground and making them harder for us to destroy. That’s the source of the urgency, and why Israel is considering acting now. They fear that a nuclear Iran will launch a nuclear strike against Israel, and with good reason. They see us as unwilling, based on our history, to use our nuclear weapons against them, and they’ve seen our pathetic attempts to control a much smaller country – Iraq. And an invasion would undoubtedly shut down, at least temporarily, oil production, as it did in Iraq. They know the American people are sick of war and don’t want another ten years of trying to subdue Iran, because it will most certainly result in a hatred of the U. S. among the people of Iran that will turn them all into Muslim fanatics and terrorists/guerilla fighters. That task will be even more impossible than subduing Iraq. Which, now that we are leaving, is devolving into a civil war between it’s Muslim factions, which will destroy all the work we did and make the sacrifices of our military men and women another wasteful sacrifice for nothing. When are we going to learn? If we wait for them to develop nuclear weapons and get their launch and bomb making facilities far enough underground, we’re screwed. The only right thing in the above article is that starting a war with Iran will hold equally devastating consequences to our fragile economy and probably turn most of the OPEC nations against us, cutting off our supply of oil or drastically increasing the price. It’s a lose-lose situation no matter how we approach it. Unless we are prepared to bomb Iran into submission like we did Germany and Japan, and occupy the country with troops decades, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, we can’t win such a war. I don’t have an answer. Let Israel do it, seems the best option. But they better move quick, and we better be ready to support them because of the reaction they are going to get from the rest of the Middle East. Terrorist acts will multiply like rabbits. I frankly don’t think we want that or are willing to endure it, even if our economy can survive it. So, no matter what option we choose, it’s lose-lose. If somebody has a better idea, then let them speak up, because I’ve done a lot of study on the subject, and I haven’t seen one yet. The only thing that makes sense is to continue the sanctions and hope their own internal factions fight against each other, while we make an all out attempt at energy independence — which will have to be an “all of the above” approach. Not just oil, or nuclear, or wind, or geothermal, or solar, or hydrogen powered or other green energy cars. We need that anyway. We already spend over 70 billion dollars a year for foreign oil. Even Saudia Arabia is developing alternative energy producing technology – they are far ahead of us.


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