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Hawks’ Arguments for War in Iran Sound Very Familiar

Sen. Tom Cotton suggested that we should take military action against Iran.

17 March, 2007: Protester holds sign depicting President George W. Bush as Pinocchio at an anti-Iraq War protest march in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo: Joseph Sohm /

Apparently Sen. Tom Cotton has been living under a rock for the past 12 years.

During an interview on the conservative Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio show, Cotton again suggested that not only should we take military action against Iran, but that any military action would only last a few days.

Cotton said in part that, “Even if military action were required … the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq and that’s simply not the case.”

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He went on to say that, “It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions.”

Hmm. Those comments sound awfully familiar don’t they?

Well they should because they’re exactly like comments made by neocons and war hawks in the buildup to the Iraq War.

Before we invaded Iraq, all of the Bush administration cronies and war hawks in Congress were saying that the Iraq War would be easy, quick and relatively painless.

In March of 2003, Dick Cheney told Bob Scheiffer on Face The Nation that, “I’m confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it’ll go relatively quickly … Weeks rather than months.”

Just a few months later, Condoleezza Rice proclaimed that, “I do not mean that we will need to maintain a military presence in Iraq as was the case in Europe.”

And, then-Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and current Senior Fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Richard Perle said that, “And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they’ve been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation.”

Well, first of all, there is no “grand square” in Baghdad right now named after George Bush.

But more importantly, every single comment made back then about the Iraq War was wrong.

As we all know, the war that was supposed to last a few months AT MOST has been dragged out for 12 years.

Since the Iraq War began on March 19, 2013, there have been 4,493 US military deaths in Iraq, and at least 32,021 soldiers have been wounded.

And those numbers don’t include the tens of thousands of Iraqis – civilian and otherwise – who lost their lives during the war.

Simply put, the Iraq War wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick and it certainly wasn’t painless.

Instead, it’s been one of the longest and deadliest wars in US history.

So, before Senator Cotton says that any military action against Iran would only take a few days, he should review the history of our nation’s last unnecessary war.

But more importantly, Cotton is overlooking a variety of ramifications and trickle-down effects that military action against Iran would have.

First, Iran is a far more populated and sophisticated country than Iraq. And, unlike Iraq, Iran has a high-functioning military. Going after Tehran and going after Baghdad are two very different things.

Cotton is also forgetting that as we speak, Iranian troops are in Iraq. Some estimates suggest that as many as 30,000 Iranian troops are in that country.

There are also thousands of US troops still in Iraq serving as advisers to the Iraqi military.

To this day, Iranian troops in Iraq have been ordered to stay away from US troops, largely because Iran doesn’t want to risk a violent encounter hurting chances of a nuclear deal.

But, if we were to attack Iran, chances are pretty good that the Iranian troops in Iraq would immediately go after our troops. It could easily turn into a bloodbath. It could even turn into World War III, which would make a sweet little fortune for Cotton’s military contractor patrons.

Finally, Senator Cotton is also ignoring the fact that, like most military actions and wars, military action against Iran would likely hurt both the US economy and the global economy.

That’s because Iran would likely cut off access to the Straits of Hormuz, sending global oil prices skyrocketing.

Back in 2011, speaking about the possibility of US military action against Iran, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that, “[If Iran were to be attacked] the United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases, and there are economic consequences to that attack …which could impact a very fragile economy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States.”

Those predictions hold true today. Despite what Senator Cotton may think, war is never easy and it’s never quick.

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