A former senior adviser on the Middle East to the last four U.S. presidents says that "the negatives far outweigh the positives" of war with Iran and the United States should augment Israel's nuclear weapons delivery systems to dissuade it from attacking the Islamic Republic.
Bruce Riedel, who served on the White House National Security Council and dealt extensively with both Israel and Iran, told an audience Tuesday at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, that while an Iran with nuclear weapons would be a significant strategic setback for the United States and Israel, deterrence and containment were preferable to military force.
He criticized those, including all but one Republican presidential candidate, who discuss an attack on Iran's nuclear installations as though it would be "over in an afternoon or a couple of weeks".
"I don't use the term 'military strike,' " Riedel said. "We will be at war with Iran. Once we begin it, the determination of when it ends will not be a unilateral one… This could become another ground war in Asia."
The global economy would suffer a huge blow from spiking oil prices, and U.S. personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan would be likely targets of Iranian retaliation, Riedel said.
The consequences would be especially dire for Afghanistan because Iran could become a second sanctuary, after Pakistan, for Taliban militants. In
that event, "the chances of success in Afghanistan on the timeline the (Barack Obama) administration has laid out is virtually nil," he said.
While the U.S. military and intelligence establishment appears solidly against a war with Iran, Israel's attitude has been ambivalent. A major concern for U.S. policymakers is that Israel might attack Iran without giving the United States warning – and thus ...