Ezra Klein gets serious about liberal hawks and Iran:
Insofar as Iran is a serious foreign policy issue -- and it is! -- those who pride themselves on their seriousness in such matters should be honest in offering their answers. The "dovish" view is that a military campaign against Iran would be a seriously bad idea. It is a view shared by many generals, most foreign policy experts, and, according to some reports, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Liberal hawks seem to dispute that conclusion, but won't quite say why. The danger of Iraq, it turns out, is not that too many liberals overlearned its lessons, but that too many liberals didn't learn them at all -- and instead have merely become more circumspect in their saber-rattling.
One point I was discussing with a few other people the other day is that we need to understand one of the costs of the continuing US military presence in Iraq as constantly posing a small-but-real risk of war with Iran. It's one thing to have such chilly relations with a country on the other side of the world, and another thing entirely to have the kind of poor relationship we have with Iran while simultaneously maintaining a huge military presence right next door. It creates a situation where screwups or confusion on the part of relatively low-level members of either nation's military and intelligence apparatus could easily lead to an "incident" that hot-heads in either government would exploit.