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This week's war-mongering news

The Guardian: "UK Military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears: British officials consider contingency options to back up a possible US action as fears mount over Tehran's capability."Ha'aretz: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a "small advantage" in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack. Netanyahu and Barak recently persuaded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, to support such a move."More Ha'aretz: "Iran military head warns of 'heave damage' should Israel attack: Tehran responds to recent reports of Israeli leaders' efforts to gain support for an attack on Iran's nuclear development sites; U.S. State Department says shares 'a deep concern with Israel about the direction Iran is taking.'"Starting to sound like the outbreak of WWI.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Iran? Front Runner, Herman Cain, told PBS Monday that he feared that China might get nuclear capability. Nobody 'advised' Herman that China has had that capability since 1964. { Herman.. Israel has them now ..a lot too.. Herman]Also I say Iran's potential nuclear armament is not a causa bella and who gives a s--t what the Israel cabinet wants about nuclear war? . . . What's to stop a 100 countries from eventually having nuclear weapons? Ours and theirs, deep political thinkers can't get beyond an electoral cycle in their thinking. I fear for my grandchildren and their children and their children etc.

What is the difference between Iran having nuclear weapons and North Korea having them? Israel? In a real sense nuclear weapons have been a deterrent for war. The wars since WWII have all had at least one side without nuclear weapons. The only reason the US did not invade North Korea was their nuclear weapons. So to invade Iran, as it was with Iraq, folly and immoral. So we have to be vocal in opposition. The neocons who advocate war do not go. Nor do they send their children.

If there is going to be a war, it might be better for the US to have it now, when it is still in a position of domination, than later, when rising countries become serious competitors.Weapons and force are the one domain in which the US are an uncontested leader... for now! A war, if it was world-wide, would enable it to reaffirm its leadership and crush its challengers.

What do we think of this scenario? Israel, the US, the UK, and perhaps a handful of allies, will obliterate the Iranian government and occupy the country for as long as it takes to stabilize the country and engineer a democratic political process that is designed to keep the mullahs out of power; no other countries in the Middle East, most of which are Arab and Sunni while Iran is neither, will come to Iran's aid; a ton of collateral damage will ensue; Hezbollah and Hamas will shell Israel, which will respond with overwhelming force; and terrible casualties and suffering will ensue for the people of Iran, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Beyond that, Iran, which is divided between those who support the mullahs and their theocracy and those who don't, will be in for a prolonged, divisive and painful period of destabilization. For Israel, it's hard to think of a downside to this scenario. It gets to continue to exist by eliminating a mortal enemy before it goes nuclear; and it cuts the head off the snake that has been funding the mortal enemies on its borders.The nascent democratic movement in Iraq also benefits because the chief funder of mischief and violence has been taken out of circulation.Of course, almost assuredly it won't play out as I've described it here. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China - there are all sorts of variables that haven't been taken into account here.

Claire, are you serious? Are you having cockails with the neocons or are you just opining on the best use of power if one thinks in Macchiavelian terms? Your position appears to be in conflict even with the Just War theory. Not to mention Pax Christi. I guess this is the offshoot of our Constantine affiliation that we thing more in Empire/military terms than the Gospel.

Jim: your first paragraph scenario--hard to see the downside for Israel???? Explain or give us the sequel.

Bill, no, I'm not serious. But sometimes I think that that's the cynical reasoning behind those pushing for war.

"? Israel, the US, the UK, and perhaps a handful of allies, will obliterate the Iranian government and occupy the country for as long as it takes to stabilize the country and engineer a democratic political process that is designed to keep the mullahs out of power;"Jim P. --You mean the way the US occupied, stabilized Iraq and are occupying and stabilizing Afghanistan?When will the US learn that it can't do everything that needs doing!)

Oops -- I thought you were actually proposing what you say in your second sentence.

An Israeli attack on Iran will be an incentive for Pakistan to give Iran one or two nuclear weapons. Israel is seven miles across. Check mate.

"Check mate." It does sound something like that old movie "War Games".

Check mate means Israel can bluff but we are staking them to the game. .. Perry just told John King on CNN that if Israel attacks Iran the USA should stand behind our ally. He would turn the US WWIII vote over to the Israeli cabinet. And he is a 'real' American. And that moron wants to be President. ???

Margaret - yes, it would be bad for Israel. But if my scenario is basically right, then the alternative - a nuclear-armed Iran - is much, much worse, for Israel and everyone else besides. At that point, it becomes realistic that nukes start flying. Please realize I am not beating the drum for war. But the point of the exercise, as it has been since before President Obama took office, has been to prevent the Iranian theocracy from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. There is a point beyond which conventional warfare is less bad than the alternative.

Ann - the Bush/Obama war in Iraq is winding down to a successful conclusion, with Saddam Hussein long gone, and democracy gradually putting down deeper and stronger roots.You may find much to argue about in that statement, but I believe it is already becoming the overarching narrative.

You're an optimist, Jim P., an optimist. I hope you're right.

Jim, I know you don't mean this, but it sounds like a nuclear Iraq to me. We've been their ten years. Israel and the middle east have to start solving their own problems. It may be messy but I don't think we should go to war, or can afford another war.

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