The dangers of war erupting this year with Iran are the greatest they’ve been since the hostage rescue misadventure in 1980 that left eight soldiers dead in the Persian desert. Now goaded by war-hawks in Congress and Israel, and with emotions and political posturing unnaturally heightened by the presidential election season, the Obama administration is coming under fierce pressure to either resolve the Iranian “problem” or offer the Israelis a green light and U.S. assistance to take care of Iran on their own.
|Straits of Hormuz|
As costly and devastating as the Iraq adventure turned out to be, a conflict with Iran offers the potential to be a thousand times worse. A U.S.-Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities seems certain to cause a wider regional war. Some on the Israeli right are openly proposing the use of tactical nuclear weapons. A preemptive assault would probably provoke an explosion of terrorism against U.S. targets around the nation and the world as well as attacks on Israel from Iranian surrogates Hezbollah and Hamas. It would also likely cause a crippling spike in worldwide oil prices and an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.
The U.S. bishops have been distracted by a rhetorical war over religious liberty and contraception, sadly, because the clarity of their voice on this actual war with Iran is notable. In a March 2 letter from Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the bishops expressed their concern over “an alarming escalation in rhetoric and tensions.”
|Recep Tayyip Erdogan|
Ahead of international talks April 13 in Istanbul on Iran’s uranium enrichment program, Clinton talked strategy with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Tehran last week with other government officials.
"We're going to be looking for a way to try to convey the legitimate fears that people in the region have about what comes next. Because if Iran were ever to get a nuclear weapon, the countries in the region are going to buy their way to one as well," Clinton said.
Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program, and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action. Discussing or promoting military options at this time is unwise and may be counterproductive. ”
Opinion polls in both the United States and Israel run strongly against an attack on Iran, but if this confrontation is to be avoided, the people of both nations need to speak up to their leaders—loudly—now. Before the Iraq war the U.S. bishops and the Vatican challenged the moral legitimacy of pre-emptive war-making, charging that the concept fails both the precepts of the just war tradition and, when the many risks and hazards of such an adventure are calculated, common sense.