10 Factors That May Lead to War With Iran

Over the last several days, much time has been spent speculating about the likelihood of war with Iran. Several encouraging pieces have been written indicating that the war is unlikely thanks to international pressure for the U.S. to back off, particularly from China and Russia. Others have indicated that Israel will not launch attacks against Iran. I sincerely pray they are right.

Unfortunately, while I hope I am wrong, it seems necessary to draw attention to some disturbing conditions surrounding the possibility of war with Iran.

1. New “nuclear concerns” have arisen.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released a new report that indicates Iran may be working on nuclear warhead components. Such reports are supposed to be confidential and are delivered only to “member states,” but they are quickly leaked. The newest report is no exception.

Such reports are already being used by those pining for war to create public panic. It might be the justification they hoped for.

2. Britain is increasingly supportive of war.

Britain has already begun to make threatening military gestures toward Iran. One article in The Guardian states,

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program, The Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defense believes the U.S. may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, U.K. military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

They also believe the U.S. would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

In other words, not only are the British making public military “contingency”plans, but they are already forming a coalition with the U.S. and giving a kind of permission to attack Iran.

3. Israel is still saber-rattling.

Last week, Israeli leaders began debating the merits of preemptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Some have suggested that these (and Britain’s actions as well) are merely rhetorical tools intended to create more severe international pressure on Iran.

Perhaps that will work. After all, China and France came out to pressure Iran just last week.

Let’s hope it is simply a ploy. But there is also a point to be made that such threats and saber-rattling have been the cause of actual military conflict in the Middle East before. The 1967 war, for example, between Israel and the Arab coalition of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria began with political threats, not overt military actions.

It has been accurately pointed out that Israel would be insane to attack Iran by itself, but that would never happen given America’s allegiance to Israel and the current push for war in the U.S. No, Israel would not go it alone, but it wouldn’t have to.

4. The alleged assassination ploy didn’t work.

Someone has been trying to incite war with Iran in more direct ways recently. But who knew that people would question that an Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas would work with the Iranian government in recruiting help from a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador on American soil?

Strangely, people doubted. With that ploy ruined, more serious tactics must be sought to justify increased aggression against Iran, something many in Washington have wanted for years.

And they want it badly enough to throw out this kind of ridiculous plot. I mean, if this story were made into a movie, it would be bad enough for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to co-star in.

5. The calls for sanctions have failed.

As soon as the story of the alleged assassination plot broke, many began calling for stern action against Iran. “They must pay,” “all options are on the table,” and whatnot.

Severe economic sanctions were the first proposal, but they have been met with resistance from many in the international community.

So, with the assassination story going over with a thud and the calls for sanctions failing internationally, what will be done to hold Iran accountable for its ongoing nuclear program and (yes, Washington still pretends to believe this) its attempt to kill the Saudi ambassador?

6. Democrats are pressuring Obama for sanctions anyway.

Some Democrats are seeking to push the sanctions forward despite the problems that may develop in the oil market. For example, Rep. Adam Smith said, “All these steps entail huge risks, but our best approach is to continue to ramp up economic pressures.” Rep. Howard Berman, another Democrat, even proposed a bill that would require the president to sanction Iran (particularly its central bank) under broad conditions, not limited to the development of nuclear weapons.

7. Iran has stated that sanctions would be an “act of war.”

Such pressure from the Democrats comes even in light of Iran’s statement that it would consider such sanctions an “act of war.” 

8. Republicans are calling for war.

It is surprising to some that Democrats are taking a hard line on sanctioning Iran, but of course no one can outdo the Republican hawks. Many of them are calling for all-out war.

In a New York Times article published Monday, several GOP presidential candidates indicated their support for military action. (Ron Paul strongly disagreed.)

Rick Perry said the U.S. should use any method in dealing with Iran, “up to and including military action.” Herman Cain warned Iran that “he would equate an attack on Israel with an attack on the United States,” and Michele Bachmann echoed that sentiment. Mitt Romney said he would also consider military options against Iran.

Rick Santorum has been calling for war with Iran for years now, and he has even publicly supported Israel’s use of preemptive strikes. Newt Gingrich, another GOP presidential candidate, has been beating the war drum against Iran and North Korea for some time now.

While such calls from the opposition could cause President Obama to reject tangling with Iran, when coupled with pressure from Democrats, they may not. Not only that, the bipartisan support for war may be an indication of how the U.S. Congress would vote in the off chance Obama sought their approval for war.

9. Obama desperately wants to be reelected.

In 2004, one of the tactics of the Bush reelection campaign was to point out that a nation should not change its commander in chief in the middle of an ongoing war. Even the press pointed this out.

Similarly, the late David Broder, an influential journalist for The Washington Post and 400-time guest on Meet the Press, argued last year that Obama needs war with Iran to gain conservative support for his reelection and spur the economy. Crazy? Yes, but it could be just crazy enough to work. Americans love war, after all.

10. America is arrogant, and arrogance makes you stupid.

This is really more of a summary than a separate point. Democrats and Republicans are both calling for sanctions and/or military action against Iran, in spite of the tremendous spike this would cause in oil prices and international tension. Arrogance makes you stupid.

One could have taken heart in knowing that other nations would resist our actions, because Americans love building “coalitions.” But, as the days unfold, Israel’s cries for preemptive strikes have gotten louder, and Britain has jumped on the bandwagon. Israel and Britain are buckled up, just waiting for America to climb in and drive the car into yet another war.

And when was the last time common sense, good judgment, and love for peace so dominated American policy that we were talked out of war?

I hope I am wrong. I pray that cooler heads will prevail, but I fear there are too few cool heads leading America.

Author: Dr. Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is a history, philosophy, and rhetoric teacher and serves as the pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Concord, N.C. You can read more of his writings at Truth and Culture and may e-mail him at brianw_phillips@yahoo.com.