Bombing Will Not Settle the Iranian Nuclear Issue

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The United States is walking at the edge of a cliff. If it bombs Iran to stem Iranian development of nuclear weapons, it fatally poisons U.S. relationships with the entire world of Islam. If it uses nuclear weapons in the assault, it further seals the fate of future generations of Americans.

Reports of such a strike in preparation go back over a year. Yet the American media are failing to warn of the catastrophic implications of such an attack.

The insurgency in Iraq and movements like al-Qaeda, ready to recruit and rain destruction worldwide, show us what to expect as a consequence of bombing Iran. Islamic moderates will never again ignore fatwas that declare war on America if America bombs Iran.

Muslim Pakistan has nuclear weapons now, and bin Laden hides on its doorstep. If bin Laden hasn’t been captured by now, this shows how shaky the U.S. reliance on Pakistan is.

Moderate Muslims could disregard extremists like bin Laden in the past. But after the U.S. and Israel waste dozens of Iranian facilities and kill many innocent civilians, generations will not forgive or forget the brazen aggression.

Future Americans will live in perpetual fear of a nuclear response on American soil. A country that cannot keep drugs out of prisons will not be able to keep terrorists from smuggling nuclear arms onto the continent.

America’s children and grandchildren will have President Bush to thank for taking the fatal step over the cliff. They can thank 50 years of American interference in the Middle East, Central Asia, and elsewhere for a bloody fourth-generation war on their soil.

America can step back from the brink at any time it chooses. Our fate is not yet sealed. Changing direction is not the impossibly difficult or complex matter that it seems. Richard M. Nixon went to China. Kennedy pushed for the nuclear test ban treaty.

Diplomacy is always available. Dramatic gestures are equally possible, and they can shift the moral climate overnight. The world has neutral and religious leaders who can mediate policy shifts.

Every day’s crop of deadly incidents in Iraq provides the occasion for political statements that can move the U.S. away from the precipice. The choice is between moving away from intervention or hurtling into the abyss. That is where we stand today.

The stubborn single-minded devotion to force and the misguided Utopian hopes of the U.S. leadership are perilously bringing the country to a point of no return. The U.S. has an excess of military might that is blinding our rulers. They cannot see what using this power brings in its wake.

Too many years of untrammeled use of military might have shielded U.S. rulers from the immorality and consequences of their acts. They now live in a world of dangerous delusions about the use of power. They fail to see the perils of its use, even when the mortal consequences to American lives are staring them in the face. The only reason they have not bombed Iran already is that they have not yet created the pretext for obtaining cover for this aggression.

After Iran has been bombed and the Middle East cauldron boils over into a wider war, it will be too late ever to go back. Our leaders will twist and turn to rationalize the necessity of their heinous acts. They will whip up glory and praise for their use of mighty weapons, even nuclear weapons.

The deadly course we are on is not our only alternative. We must turn away from the brink of more war. We must turn toward nonintervention. We must renounce nuclear weapons. Either that or leap over a cliff of death.

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is the Louis M. Jacobs Professor of Finance at University at Buffalo.

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