Danger of War with Iran Must Be Taken Seriously
July 21, 2012 • 9:13AM

War with Iran "would be a really bad thing for the United States," warns former CIA officer Paul Pillar, but he cautions that there is a real danger of sliding into such a war, even if senior policy-makers in neither Washington nor Tehran want it.

Writing in the National Interest on July 19, Pillar says the factors pushing toward war include: (1) the combination of the West's economic warfare being waged against Iran, and the failure to actually use the sanctions as leverage to get Iran to make concessions, so that war-promotors can claim that "diplomacy has failed; (2) the danger of an accidental altercation in the Persian Gulf, which danger increases as the U.S. builds up its forces there; and (3) Israel's "stoking the Iran nuclear issue to crisis-level heat," to which is added Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's threats against Iran over the Bulgarian bus bombing.

Pillar says it would not be surprising if Iran were behind the attack, given Israel's assassination of Iranian scientists, which Pillar says "have entailed terrorism in the purest sense of the word." Netanyahu's bellicose statements should be taken seriously, Pillar adds, since "he may be looking for excuses to up the ante and the heat no matter who ultimately turns out to be responsible for the attack in Bulgaria."

The danger of war with Iran "is underappreciated among the American public, Pillar warns, and the Presidential election campaign isn't helping—with Obama stalling and unwilling to try to resolve the Iran nuclear issue, and Mitt Romney trying to score points against Obama.

"The danger of a war needs to be taken seriously," Pillar concludes. "That means using those sanctions we have piled on Iran as leverage, which is not how we have used them so far, to make possible a nuclear agreement with Tehran. It means emphasizing communications and procedures in the Persian Gulf that will minimize the chance of an escalation-prone incident, rather than merely bringing in more sabers and rattling them more loudly. And it means distancing and dissociating the United States as much as possible from destructive and destabilizing actions by Israel.

Meanwhile, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former Trilateral Commission-controlled National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter, interviewed on Newsmax.TV on July 18, warned that a confrontation with Iran would be disastrous for the United States, lasting for years and devastating America's economy. "A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years," Brzezinski said. "And the economic consequences of it are going to be devastating for the average American.... High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene. Can you name me any significant country that's going to be in that war together on our side?"

"Rushing to war is not a wise course of action," Brzezinski said. "You can always start a war, and you know pretty much what happens when you start it. But you don't know how long it will last, what its consequences will be—and they will be certainly very costly for the United States."