Center for Strategic Communication

While much news coverage was devoted to the recent protests in the Middle East, the New York Times editorial board recently highlighted the Iran Project Report titled “Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Military Action Against Iran.”

The authors state, “The significance of the report by The Iran Project is not just its sober analysis but the nearly three dozen respected national security experts from both political parties who signed it,” and go on to name noted national security professionals such as Brent Scowcroft and Zbigneiew Brzezinski, both former national security advisors.

Included among the thirty-six signatories to the document were the American Security Project’s CEO, retired Brigadier General Stephen Cheney and board members former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and retired Navy Admiral William Fallon.

The report’s analysis draws from currently-known facts to present the costs and benefits of a military strike against Iran, rather than relying on speculation and drawing conclusions about future U.S. policy towards Iran.

Based on the analysis of the report signers, the editorial board’s conclusion is that the best policy towards Iran is currently to “tighten sanctions while pursuing negotiations on a deal.”

The report states that “extended military strikes by the U.S. alone or in concert with Israel could…[set] back Iran’s nuclear program for up to four years.”  Possible consequences of such a strike, according to the report, include an Iranian retaliation – both directly via that country’s armed forces and indirectly via proxies such as Hezbollah –, the breakdown of the current international diplomatic cooperation against Iran’s nuclear program, and an increased likelihood of Iran becoming a nuclear state.

The current best course of action for the U.S. remains in continuing efforts to achieve a negotiated solution through diplomatic means.  And as the signers of the report argue, determining the best course of action requires a thorough examination of the costs and benefits of each option.

“By steering clear of overheated rhetoric and relying instead on fact-based analysis, this report makes a significant contribution to the national debate on how to address the Iranian nuclear challenge,” BGen Cheney said on the release of the report.

“In addressing the Iran nuclear challenge, all options should be on the table, including military force. Tehran should understand that we can and will take this option if required,” he added.