Chuck Wald, a retired US Air Force General who was the air commander for the US response to the 9/11 attacks, has an important op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today about Iran. Wald argues that while no one wants to see the military options explored before all others have been exhausted, it would be a mistake to think that there are none. He argues that even the mere act of a military build up might persuade the Iranian regime that the cost of continuing with their nuclear programme would be being bombed and thus persuade them to give up. Alternatively, a naval blockade could deny Tehran the petrol imports it needs, bringing its already teetering economy to a halt. If — and we should, obviously, wish that this never becomes necessary — a military strike is required, then, Wald says, it would be possible to carry one out successfully.
I expect that many Coffee Housers will say that a strike on Iran can never be worth it. But as Wald reminds us, the consequences of Iran going nuclear would be horrendous: “Iranian domination of the oil-rich Persian Gulf, threats to U.S.-allied Arab regimes, the emboldening of radicals in the region, the creation of an existential threat to Israel, the destabilization of Iraq, the shutdown of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and a regional nuclear-arms race.” If there is one thing worse than bombing Iran, it is a nuclear Iran.