Chuck Robb: Put “Military Option” vs. Iran on the Table


    Former Senator Chuck Robb (D-VA) explains his views on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program.

    With sanctions unlikely to be sufficient, a nuclear Iran strategically untenable and an Israeli strike extremely risky, we support a triple-track strategy that involves the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy; sanctions; and visible, credible military readiness activity. This strategy is consistent with President Obama’s 2009 pledge at Camp Lejeune, N.C., “to use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

    We cannot afford to wait indefinitely to determine the effectiveness of diplomacy and sanctions. Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort. Indeed, publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely.

    Instead, the administration needs to expand its approach and make clear to the Iranian regime and the American people: If diplomatic and economic pressures do not compel Iran to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military has the capability and is prepared to launch an effective, targeted strike on Tehran’s nuclear and supporting military facilities.

    I tend to agree with Senator Robb on this one, not just vis-a-vis Iran but also in general regarding international relations.  Paradoxically, the chances of a non-military (whether by us or by the Israelis) solution to problems like Iran’s nuclear program is higher if there’s a serious threat of military force looming on the horizon to focus everyone’s minds.  Without that, what’s to stop Ahmedinejad, Khamenei and Company from stringing us along until they achieve nuclear weapons capacity, at which point we won’t be able to do much of anything about the situation (including a dangerous, nuclear arms race in the Middle East), except for wishing that we had taken effective action a lot sooner?

    • Dan Sullivan

      So the President will be getting some awful advice on how to handle this threat. Ironic that we consider using nuclear weapons but are afraid of truly surgical initiatives.

    • Teddy Goodson

      First, we supported Saddam’s Iraq against Iran in that bloody border war. Then we invaded Saddam’s Iraq to halt his invasion of Kuwait, but stopped before completing the job by capturing Baghdad. Then we invaded Afghanistan to capture bin Laden, almost caught him and suddenly stopped before completing the job, so that we could re-invade Iraq, where we actually did Iran’s work for them. Then we resumed invading Afghanistan, where it looks as though we are going to end up doing China’s work for them (so they can exploit the supposedly new-found mineral riches of Afghanistan). And now we are going to Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran in order to do Israel’s work for them, and make McCain happy? Are we confused, or is it just me?

      • of Chuck Robb’s main point, not getting into specific personalities or particular commanders?

    • kindler

      As Barney Frank and Ron Paul point out here, we’re already spending some $700 billion on the military every year. How much higher can we go?

      Can we still afford to be the world’s policeman?  Or is it time to seriously begin the transition to collective security — the Tea Party loonies and their black helicopter talk be damned.          

      • Dan Sullivan

        Without the access I once had, I cannot get into the heads of the Iranian leadership so well. However, there is a messianic, fatalistic streak apparent that will result in an Iranian preemptive strike on Israel if we play this wrong. Their measure of success significantly discounts a peaceful future that includes nonbelievers, even followers of the book.

      • Dan Sullivan

        They also know we have wasted away the blood and treasure that could have provided the leverage Robb imagines we have with a military option.

    • libra

      going to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Israel, too? Seeing as it already has nuclear capability and refuses to even talk about it, never mind sign any non-proliferation treaties?

    • Teddy Goodson

      and the reason they obtained nuclear capability was exactly how some other countries have done so: through espionage. Israel had a little more intellectual capability but I suspect espionage played a part in their developing a nuclear capability.  While I do think Ahmadinejad is probably even crazier than Stalin, he still answers to his religious leaders, and I do not believe they are any crazier than Stalin… unless we start bombing them. N. Korea, well, I don’t know how far from normal we can consider their leaders… Pakistan and India? Heh.

      That leads me to say that nuclear capability is the sympton, not the disease, and maybe we should look at the underlying problem. What is needed is to create, in at least the Middle East, a security system sort of like the Congress of Vienna did after the Napoleonic Wars for Europe. Rising countries like Iran and Turkey need to be treated with respect and allowed to do their own thing internally. No more regime change nonsense, please. Guarantee Israel and Palestine’s existence and borders, renounce terrorism as national policy, the US ends all occupations, the whole is guaranteed by all participants and the Great Powers including Russia and China and the West.  It would all be held together by not just a security pact but also a well-funded deveopment plan like the Marshall Plan for post-World War II Europe. For the amount of money we’ve wasted in Iraq we could have made the entire area into a blooming garden of prosperity.

      Now, isn’t that Simple? Double Heh.

      Maybe I should write an article.

      • The concept that stopping (or at least slowing) the spread of nuclear weapons, aka “nuclear non-proliferation,” is only in the interest of one particular country (Israel, which for some bizarre reason you single out) and not strongly in U.S. national interests, is so misguided it’s hard to even know where to being.  Let’s try a question: do you believe the world will be a safer place if more countries, particularly “rogue” nations like North Korea, Burma, and Iran, have nuclear weapons? Or, will it be far, far more dangerous? I vote for the latter, and urge that all nations step up their efforts to stop the spread of these heinous weapons. This, by the way, has been U.S. foreign policy – Democratic, Republican, pretty much everyone – for decades now. Stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons is also supported overwhelmingly in Congress and just about everywhere else in this country, with the possible exception of loons like Ron Paul and the International ANSWER Coalition. Siding with Iran on this puts you in the company of those folks. As long as you’re comfortable there, fine, but I couldn’t disagree more strongly.