- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Planning on attacking Iran? "Better pack a lunch," advises my friend, retired Lt. Col. Terry Daly, who knows a lot about war. His point was that airstrikes alone against Iranian nuclear facilities wouldn’t do much. If you are going to attack Iran, you need to hit its ability to retaliate, and that means that pretty soon you have a big fat war on your hands.
I can’t believe we are discussing this. I am hearing lots of depressing talk that there is a good chance that Israel will attack Iran sometime this year and that we will get sucked into the ensuing mess. In some ways, there already is a kind of shadow war under way with Iran — Stuxnet, the drone intrusions, the recent explosions and assassinations, the sanctions.
But for all that, I just can’t see Obama getting us involved in another Middle Eastern war. The American people certainly have no appetite for it. I think he almost certainly would lose reelection if a war broke out, because his base would fall apart and the left would go into opposition.
At any rate, an article by my CNAS colleague Colin Kahl that went up last night on the website of Foreign Affairs argues well that the "containment vs. attack" mindset is a false dilemma. In fact, he says, even if you attacked Iran, you’d still have to contain it afterward. So a series of airstrikes is not a substitute for containment, but a prelude to it.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |