Military Matters: Unhand Iran

Bombing Iran is not a good idea. Here's why.

Should the United States launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran to prevent that country from developing nuclear arms?

Should Israel?

My unscientific poll of friends and neighbors in Oakton finds no one who wants an attack. But I found no one who agrees with me, either.

My opinion is it doesn't matter if Tehran gets The Bomb. Even if it does, we should seek friendly relations, not confrontation.

Others are obviously more worried about an Iranian nuke than I am. That includes bigwigs inside the Beltway.

Thanks to a series of planned leaks, we know the United States and Israel collaborated in unleashing the "Stuxnet" computer virus on Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility as long ago as 2009.

This was an extraordinary intrusion. It required a "human asset" — an agent — to carry a USB thumb drive into the isolated Natanz facility and plug it in. The "Stuxnet" malware fouled Natanz's computer systems and damaged centrifuges but it also made an unplanned escape into the outside world and infected tens of thousands of computers without regard for borders or politics.

My view is the United States and Israel shouldn't work together on military matters. When I worked in the State Department in the 1970s, a wonderful supervisor cautioned me we could use the word "ally" only to refer to a government with which we have a mutual defense agreement, meaning the NATO and ANZUS countries (today, minus New Zealand) and South Korea. We don't have a mutual defense pact with Israel precisely because our interests do not coincide.

So what about those who want the United States to send B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and F-15E Strike Eagle fighter-bombers swarming over Natanz with satellite-guided, bunker-busting bombs?

Even if the idea had merit, it won't work.

According to Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, an attack on Iran would delay that country's ability to develop a nuclear weapon by two years at most while worldwide repercussions would be "detrimental to our interests."

A July analysis of U.S. and global opinion on nuclear proliferation, produced by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), indicates Americans are "deeply concerned" about Iran developing an atomic bomb but only 13 percent see military action as a solution.

In 2003, we invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence and a perceived threat that did not exist. Neither the Iraq of 2003 nor the Iran of 2012 has ever posed a threat to the United States.

Iran is far from blameless. Officials in Tehran owe us their explanation of the June 25, 1996, truck bombing at the Khobar Towers living quarters in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. airmen. Some experts say this was an al-Qaeda attack but the evidence points unmistakably to Iranian revolutionary forces.

But we should not take any action that will unify those forces. Iran has a diverse population with a high level of education and literacy — by some standards of measure, higher than our own — and many people with moderate views who would welcome improved relations. We'll lose any chance of improving ties if we bomb their country.

The talk of bombing Iran is dangerous talk. We should look for other solutions.

About me: My book "Mission to Berlin" is a history of American B-17 Flying Fortress bomber crews in World War II. I write books, magazine articles and newspaper columns in my home office in Oakton, assisted by my 65-pound talking Labrador retriever, Autumn.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dave Webster July 27, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I disagree with several parts of your analysis Mr. Dorr. 1) "The United States and Israel shouldn't work together on military matters." Israel possesses human intelligence sources that the US can't hope to match. We need to work with Israel to accomplish our own goals. Our interests and those of Israel coincide more than they diverge. We don't have to refer to them as "allies." Strategic partner would seem to be enough. 2.) Iraq v. Iran This comparison is not even close. The intelligence supporting the proposition that Iran is developing nuclear weapons isn't questioned by any responsible party. The only question is how long will it be before Iran has the ability detonate a bomb. 3.) Iran is far from blameless. The Khobar Towers incident is only a small part of the story. Since the Islamic Revolution Iran has engaged in an undeclared war against the United States. Just to name a few incidents: 1.) 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Lebanon (241 Americans killed) 2.) murder of CIA Station Chief William Buckley who was kidnapped in Beruit 1984 and underwent 15 months of torture 3.) Iran's direct involvement in killing US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. 4.) Bombing Iran Won't Work I disagree. The credible threat of military action against Iran is virtually the only thing which will change the behavior of the mullahs. God help us all if Iran obtains nuclear weapons and delivery systems capable of reaching the US.
Tom Cleaver July 28, 2012 at 11:51 PM
A war with Iran is a good way to seriously knock out the United States, worse than we knocked ourselves out in Iraq and are knocking ourselves out in Afghanistan. Neither to any good purpose. Bombing Iran is not likely to end up stopping anything there, and getting into a ground war there is going to be more than we can handle. Iran is not like either Iraq or Afghanistan. The last successful invader was Tamerlane, and he had to kill half the population to do so, a result I doubt even wingnut morons like Dave Webster who get their disinformation from Faux Snooze would be willing to do (or have someone else do for them, since "patriots" like Dave never manage to end up in uniform out at the sharp end of the spear).
Tom Cleaver July 28, 2012 at 11:55 PM
By the way Dave (and the rest of the warhawk fools) you might be interested to know that Bob Dorr is considered one of the leading military historians and analysts in the country; he has access to people who have information you'll never hear, so you might take his comments with a bit more seriousness than you give to the bubbleheads at "Fox and Friends" or "Bill O'Reilly," none of whom know that the sharp end goes in front.
Kevin Chisholm July 29, 2012 at 09:40 PM
This is a more informative and honest discussion than you read in many places. Thanks to Patch for providing the forum and the well informed voice and writings of Mr. Dorr. Kevin Chisholm Candidate for Virginia's 10th Congressional District www.chisholmforcongress.com
Dave Webster July 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Mr. Cleaver, I fail to see how any of my comments have enraged you to the point where you feel it is appropriate to engage in personal invective. If you examine the points I made they are well within the mainstream of thought on the issue of Iran. Mr. Dorr's access to information does not render him infallible in his observations. I disagree with Mr. Dorr about the necessity of our cooperation with Israel and I don't think anyone questions the conclusions of numerous intelligence agencies that Iran's present goal is to obtain a nuclear weapon. The litany of Iran's transgressions against the United States in recent years, through its proxy Hezbollah, which I documented in my comments is just the tip of the iceberg. I forgot to mention, for example, the torture and murder of Marine Colonel William Higgins and the murder of Navy Seal Robert Stethem. I never suggested, and never would suggest, a ground invasion of Iran. I fail to see the logic in attibuting my views to watching Fox News since none of the items I just mentioned have been the subject of any news reports to my knowledge.
Jody July 30, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Just offering a thought as a non-expert, but I'm tending to agree with Mr. Webster. I think our interests coincide in that we would be upset if Iran bombed Israel out of existence. Of course to prevent its own destruction, Iran would probably have to also bomb European and US targets at the same time. Our safety may depend on a targeted attack of nuclear bomb facilities in Iran that would considerably disrupt their production capabilities. Perhaps the educated and moderate citizens of Iran don't like their leaders' saber rattling either and would understand why we felt the need to act.
RobotChicken August 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
I think at least Mr.BOB Dorr has his 'ducks in a row' before he EVER runs his computer off full bore! Bob Sethem Brother was a friend of mine on the teams. His BROTHER...SW-2 Robert Stethem,USN,UTC-ONE,Navy DIVER,was killed 6/15/85 When they had those 'Red Flag' Free US Passports for military. Most of us said "no to the offer" and spent the $35.00 for the blue! He was planning to apply to BUDS later on. And your an 'Expert on what know?' Just the Facts Please!
RobotChicken August 22, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Mr. Dorr,that photo would look good on the MT forum!!! God Bless..RC
Dave Webster August 22, 2012 at 11:27 AM
In the Navy, Stethem was a Seabee Steelworker assigned to NMCB-62 in Gulfport, MS. Assigned to NMCB-62, Stethem served multiple tours on Diego Garcia and Guam. Later, Stethem became a 2nd Class Navy Diver and was assigned to the Navy's Underwater Construction Team in Little Creek, Virginia. My apologies for use of the term SEAL. Does that mistake negate everything else I said?
Robert F. Dorr August 22, 2012 at 11:42 AM
I debriefed some of the passengers from TWA Flight 847. Their experience at the hands of hijackers was beyond horrible. My recollection is that it was his identity card, not his maroon official passport, that caused him to be singled out. That doesn't change my opinion that the United States should seek to improve relations with Iran. A for RobotChicken's comment about the photo, I do not have the capability to post a photo in the venue he cites.
RobotChicken August 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Accepted, Thank You, no it does not, just do 'homework, stand out from the rest like Mr. Dorr! God Bless and keep fighting for the truth, do not be a 'PC Yes MAN'! We need Leaders in OUR COUNTRY NOW ever then before!!


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