Max Boot's Ridiculous "Bomb Iran" Op-ed
Posted by Michael Cohen
Max Boot has an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today that shockingly argues the US should bomb Iran to stop its nuclear program. I know . . . who could have seen that coming.
Since this is such a terrible idea that, in the abstract, is difficult to defend Boot must rely on some rather dubious historical analogies to make his case:
In retrospect, weakness in the face of aggression is almost impossible to understand — or forgive. Why did the West do so little while the Nazis gathered strength in the 1930s? While the Soviet Union enslaved half of Europe and fomented revolution in China in the late 1940s? And, again, while Al Qaeda gathered strength in the 1990s? Those questions will forever haunt the reputations of the responsible statesmen, from Neville Chamberlain to Bill Clinton.
. . . After the failure to stop Hitler and Bin Laden, among others, Westerners were said to have suffered a "failure of imagination." We are suffering that same failure today as we fail to face up to the growing threat from the Islamic Republic.
Just from an historical perspective this is simply wrong. First of all, Bill Clinton did make effort to stop Al Qaeda in the 1990s (albeit unsuccessfully). One can argue that he should have done more, but the notion that he did "so little" is clearly incorrect. Also, there was another presidential adminstration that proceeded followed Clinton's, which did basically nothing to stop Al Qaeda and saw America attacked on their watch. Oddly they go unmentioned.
Second, the US clearly did try to prevent Maoist revolution in China in the 1940s and unless Max is suggesting that the US should have launched a preventive war against the Red Army in 1945 I'm not sure what the thinks should have been done to stop the Soviet Union from enslaving half of Europe. But of course to root around inside the feverish mind of Max Boot is to ignore the fact that even the United States has limitations on what it can accomplish on the global stage.
Third, if my eyes don't deceive me Max is comparing Osama bin Laden and the Iranian mullahs to Adolf Hitler. It seems relevant to mention here that Iran is isolated diplomatically and politically; can only project power through the use of terrorist proxies; has no real allies in the region; is roiled by serious domestic upheaval; has a weak conventional military force that utilizes obsolete weapons and technology; and is out spent militarily by basically all of its key rivals. The argument that Iran can be compared, historically, to the rise of Nazi Germany is utterly laughable.
Finally, Boot argues that the world has responded with "scarcely believable passivity" to Iran's provocations and that "The only credible option for significantly delaying the Iranian nuclear program would be a bombing campaign."
Notice that Boot doesn't say stop, but rather delay Iran's nuclear program (it goes without saying that Boot fails to address the issue of costs or unintended consequences in using military force against Iran, but of course the first rule of Neo-Con Fight Club is not to talk about the costs of Neo-Con Fight Club).
Nonetheless, the notion that the world has responded with "passivity" to Iranian provocations only makes sense if you believe that every action short of the use of military force is an example of passivity. For Boot, covert action, economic sanctions, diplomacy and a regional containment strategy are the actions of wimps.
Also unmentioned by Boot is the inconvenient fact that according to the most recent IAEA report the Iranian nuclear weapons program has been shuttered since 2003. This isn't to suggest that Iran's nuclear aspirations are not real, but rather that the argument Tehran can't be delayed in its effort to build a bomb is not true.
To be sure, it is certainly important to have a debate about the threat posed by an Iranian bomb, but it is precisely this sort of over-inflated rhetoric that makes the Iranian mullahs into a modern day Third Reich that does precious little to further that discussion.