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Cries for War with Iran Loom Large

Jonah Carlson, Maroon Tribune Columnist

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After two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been incredibly costly in terms of money and lives, there has been speculation that the American public is tired of war, nation-building, and the United States’ status as ‘world policeman.’  This has been floated as a potential explanation for isolationist GOP candidate Ron Paul’s huge increase in support vis-à-vis his 2008 campaign.  The sad problem with this idea is that it is false.  True, Americans dislike long, messy wars.  We also dislike war and love peace in the abstract.  But in the instance of a specific war that seems likely to be quick and decisive, it is another story.  There is an immense amount of pressure on President Obama and the American public to support war with Iran if sanctions fail – political pressure from Republicans, pressure from special interests, international pressure from Israel’s hard-right government, and media pressure.  For example, when I caught a glimpse of CNN the other day, a host was drawing potential attack routes on a map of the Middle East and speaking as if he was a military strategist, not an unbiased reporter.

The jingoistic drumbeat for war has become deafening in recent weeks.  And as the military industrial complex throws its full weight behind the idea of increased militarism and foreign intervention, US citizens seem to be coming around to the idea.  According to a litany of polls conducted near the beginning of this month, up to 56% support the idea of a preemptive US strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and up to 62% back such an action by Israel.  However, in polls that laid out several options including a military strike, a diplomatic route, and sanctions, the numbers dropped as low as 41%, and as little as 21% believed war was the best option.  It’s all about how the problem is presented.  If mainstream media outlets continue to suggest war is necessary, the popularity of a strike is likely to grow.  This is despite the fact that those such as Fareed Zakaria convincingly make the argument that a strike is unnecessary and counterproductive.

A strike would throw the international community into complete chaos, alienating the United States from some of its most significant allies and potentially engulfing the Middle East in a larger war.  It would also represent a complete failure of Barack Obama’s promise to reset the relationship with Iran and work to find common ground.  It could be a debacle large enough to undo all foreign policy progress made since Bush left office.  And yet, Obama’s hand is being forced by dozens of actors.  If Iran shakes off sanctions and pursues the atomic bomb, Obama has painted himself into a corner in which he has no choice but to begin another war.  It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

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Cries for War with Iran Loom Large