A friend who spent the last year living in Israel recently wrote to explain that he’ll be voting for John McCain in the fall.
“I am supporting McCain,” he confessed, “because I feel he is the one president most likely to militarily go after Iran’s nuclear facilities. I do not believe anything short of that or regime change will stop Iran from getting and using a nuclear bomb against our people.
Jews who vote with their kishkes instead of their kopfs — their guts instead of their heads — will likely be drawn to the rhetoric of Bush and McCain, seeing them as the battle-hardened defenders that Israel and America need to be safe. But those who favor a strike against Iran are dead wrong and are urging a reckless course.
Most Pentagon generals view an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities — promised by McCain if Iran does not halt its march toward nuclear weapons — as not only ineffective but likely to entangle us in another protracted war that we cannot win and may well lose. Senior American military officials believe that an attack on Iran “could set off Iranian retaliation without halting Tehran’s nuclear program for long,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
Iran expert Trita Parsi has warned, “War with Iran would result in Iranians rallying around the flag.” Further, Parsi said, “The government would be strengthened instead of toppled. The Iranian nuclear program would most likely accelerate than be destroyed.”
Reporting from the Persian Gulf, David Ignatius asserted in The Washington Post that “the United States doesn’t have good military choices now — and the Iranians know it. That’s one reason they are being so provocative; they believe that a U.S. military strike would hurt America more than Iran.”
Iran could “lure the United States onto a battlefield where its immense firepower wouldn’t do much good. The Iranians could withdraw into the maze of their homeland and keep firing off their missiles — exacting damage on the West’s economy and, most important, its will to fight.”
A war with Iran, many top U.S. military officials have concluded, would be a trap. And that is the trap our bomb-happy friends, and their favored presidential candidates, tout as the miracle drug for what ails us.
McCain pays lip service to the need to use “all elements of our national power” in the war on terror, including diplomacy and economic development. But when confronting the chief purveyor of Middle East terrorism, he would have the United States face Iran with very few arrows in our quiver.
The Jewish dogma we most need to throw overboard is our blind faith in tough-talking politicians as our saviors. The less a candidate has sound mooring for his policies, the more apt he is to manipulate us by invoking our cherished symbols and comforting slogans.
What we need now is sober strategy and a cool hand. All signs point to the wisdom of the carrot-and-stick approach to Iran, Iraq and Syria favored by the Democrats, and to the folly of the even more ambitious Mideast wars urged on us by McCain and many conservatives. Former Reagan administration defense official Larry Korb warns that McCain “would employ military force to the exclusion of other options.”
America and Israel will be ill served by Bush on steroids for the next four years.
(Gidon D. Remba, a veteran Israel activist and commentator, is editor-in-chief and publisher of the new Jews for Obama e-newsletter. He blogs at http://tough-dove-israel.blogspot.com/.)