By Mitchell Freddura and Mary Kaszynski
American Security Project Board members Admiral William Fallon (USN, ret.) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) joined Ambassador Thomas Pickering, General Anthony Zinni (USA, ret.) and Lee Hamilton (former representative from Indiana and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission Report) in calling for a “nonpartisan, reasoned discussion” of U.S. policy towards Iran in a recent Washington Post op-ed.
The authors are among the 35 senior security experts, including American Security Project CEO Brigadier General Stephen Cheney (USMC Ret.), who endorsed the Iran Project report, “Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Military Action against Iran.”
“A fact-based discussion of the objectives, costs, benefits, timing, capabilities and exit strategy should govern any decision to use military force,” Adm. Fallon et al. write.
“Our position is fully consistent with the policy of presidents for more than a decade of keeping all options on the table, including the use of military force, thereby increasing pressure on Iran while working toward a political solution,” the authors add.
As the Iran Project report concludes, a military strike on Iran could potentially delay Iran’s nuclear program by several years. Depending on the scale and goals of a strike, significant damage to Iran’s military and defense systems could also be achieved.
However, the authors caution that absent a large American ground presence in Iran, a military strike probably would not “eliminate Iran’s capability to build nuclear weapons, unseat the regime or force it to capitulate to U.S. demands.”
A military operation would also carry costs, potentially including: Iranian retaliation, either directly or through terrorist proxies, an increase in the price of oil, and the potential for a wider regional conflagration. .
The consequences of U.S. action on Iran are serious. A cogent examination of the issue should not be substituted for slipshod analysis, nor should partisan squabbling override reasoned argument. The nonpartisan, fact-based approach of Admiral Fallon, Senator Hagel, and the other Iran Project signers restores the Iran discussion to where it should be – out of petty politics and into national security strategy