The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear program did very little except state the obvious. Essentially, the report corroborated the presence of Iran’s (officially) declared program to enrich uranium and slightly expanded on the findings that Tehran has, particularly before 2003, pursued various military-related nuclear technologies.
It’s worth stressing that this is old news to the U.S. and its allies. Although the findings did not come as a surprise, calls for military action against Iran are growing louder.
Numerous Republican presidential candidates have suggested that they favor a military strike, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly attempting to rally support in his cabinet for such an attack.
Without question, it would be an absolute mistake for the U.S. to take that sort of unilateral action against Iran.First, consider the political costs. Should the U.S. (or Israel for that matter) launch a military attack, the entire region would inevitably become involved.
Iran would surely either retaliate directly or rally its proxies — from terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon to Bashar al-Assad’s Syria — to strike back against Israel and U.S. forces in the region.
Regardless of the intentions, the world would simply see it as Washington invading a third Muslim nation. Further, although there are encouraging signs that Iranian citizens are increasingly growing weary of the corrupt regime, an attack on Tehran would invoke widespread Iranian nationalism that would ultimately strengthen the current regime.
It’s also worth noting Iran’s geopolitical surroundings. To its right is a nuclear Pakistan. On the left is Israel, a nation widely believed to have the region’s only nuclear arsenal. Down south is Iran’s Cold War-like enemy, Saudi Arabia, a country rapidly increasing its own military capabilities. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Tehran is considering advanced weapons given its less-than-friendly neighbors.
As a leading Israeli investment firm recently stated, an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would come at too high of an economic price. Most importantly, the world would see a dramatic jump in the price of oil.
The report states that Iran may choose to block the Strait of Hormuz, which could cause the price of oil to increase to more than $250 a barrel. (For reference, the price as of Nov. 14 is $98 per barrel.) Moreover, the cost of war for the U.S. in particular would be crippling.
According to a research project entitled “Costs of War” by Brown University, the U.S. will have spent a total of $3.7 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — not considering the human costs.
With our fiscal situation as serious as it is now, I personally do not see a convincing reason to spend more money on another war with another unpredictable outcome.