Better to Jaw-Jaw than to War-War
By Jerome Grossman
In the last five years we should have learned that military intervention in the Middle East is difficult, bloody, and expensive. The enormous advantages of the U.S. in equipment and trained personnel have not brought victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. The indigenous unorganized resistance has found ways to counter the awesome organized superpower.
Nevertheless, as incredible as it may appear, the Bush administration is moving our nation closer to another costly invasion in the Middle East, this time against Iran. It will be billed as virtually cost free; fire-power from the naval battle groups now in the Persian Gulf, B-2 bombers flying in from Missouri, primed to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq and any people who get in the way.
Also destroyed will be what is left of America's reputation. For the 1.3 billion Muslims world- wide, attacking three Muslim nations simultaneously will have all the earmarks of another crusade against them. They can be expected to attack U.S. interests everywhere. To the rest of the world of other faiths or no faith, a third war will be conclusive evidence of the determination of the U.S. to crush any challenge to its world hegemony.
Already, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has told his soldiers to prepare for more “unconventional” wars, that is, wars where the weak resisters become guerrillas with homemade weapons and tactics. Will this take the rest of the century?
This scenario is not in the long-term interests of the United States. Our quarrels with Iran over its nuclear programs can be negotiated through the International Atomic Energy Agency in a manner similar to the current successful solution to North Korea's nuclear program. Our objections to Iran's influence in Iraq can and should be negotiated by the so-called free and democratically elected government of Iraq, supported by the U.S.
Diplomacy should be the initial response to international arguments before sanctions and international pressure. Military action is a last resort and then only with the broadest international support, hopefully with the blessing of the United Nations. The government of Iran has repeatedly asked for meetings and negotiations but the U.S. response has been military threats and Congressional resolutions so harsh that they have been described on the floor of the U.S. Senate as “tantamount to a declaration of war.”
The stakes for the U.S. and the entire world are enormous. Let us remember the advice of a warrior, Winston Churchill, “Better to jaw-jaw, than to war-war.”