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Gene Lyons writes that a war in Iran would be even dumber than the war in Iraq, in his column, “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.

Slow them down, probably. Stop them, no. Short of a full scale invasion and occupation of a nation three times larger than neighboring Iraq in population and five times larger in land area, that can’t be done. Global disapproval didn’t stop North Korea, Pakistan, nor, for that matter, Israel.

Exponentially dumb because it could set the entire Middle East aflame.

You’d think the Israelis, of all people, would recognize that threatening a people with death and destruction hardens their resolve. Yet the New York Times reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “told visitors that he believes the Tehran government to be deeply unpopular, indeed despised, and that a careful attack on its nuclear facilities might even be welcomed by Iranian citizens.”

Yes, and Dick Cheney predicted that U.S. forces invading Iraq would be greeted with candy and flowers. “Most analysts [in Jerusalem] and abroad,” the Times noted cautiously “take a different view.” Indeed, historical examples of civilian populations cheering on aerial bombardments are rare, if not non-existent. Despite his and Cheney’s obvious affinities, one would expect Netanyahu to be made of saner stuff.

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