Coming Soon in This Space: The Encouraging Push-Back to Bomb-Iran Plans

By James Fallows

The post I'm storing up for tomorrow, when I'm no longer in meeting rooms or at airports or on airplanes, will be about Iran. In specific, why we should be encouraged by the emerging push-back to rhetoric from (a) all Republican candidates not named Ron Paul, (b) their supporters and strategists, and (c) various parts of the press, about the "inevitability" of war with Iran.

To anyone who remembers the press and policy-world buzz through 2002 and early 2003 about the need to "get serious" by facing the "need" to invade Iraq, the increasing pro-war rumbling sounds very familiar. But this time, unlike ten years ago, more people are offering first-principle cautions, questions, and rebuttals, earlier in the process, and in more established and prominent outlets. One reason, no doubt, is that we're that much further removed from the shock of 9/11. And another is precisely that we have been through this cycle before, with Iraq, and may have learned something. That's what I'll go into, in more detail, soon. For background reading right now, this excellent summary by Heather Hurlburt at Democracy Arsenal points toward a number of useful analyses. Also please check The Atlantic's Robert Wright, passim, these past few weeks, and William Pfaff at his site. Lots more to come.

Further back in The Atlantic's archive: my article from 2004 on the purely military arguments against bombing Iran, and Jeffrey Goldberg's from 2010 about whether Israel has reached a "point of no return" in its plans to bomb -- along with the related special report that we ran on TheAtlantic.com. (This theme was of course taken up yesterday in The New York Times Magazine.)


If the Iraq experience positions us for something more like an actual debate this time -- and the proper consideration of the Constitutional, strategic, human, and economic consequences of various policies on Iran -- then it will have done some good. Signing off now, more tomorrow.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/coming-soon-in-this-space-the-encouraging-push-back-to-bomb-iran-plans/252247/