Stand firm, Mr. President

We must resist the pressure to attack Iran

The proliferation of “loose talk,” to use President Obama’s words, about going to war with Iran over its alleged nuclear-weapons program is sounding eerily like the buildup to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It’s a good thing the president is resisting the pressure.

At issue is a disagreement between the United States and Israel over the “red line” that Iran must cross to warrant attack. To the Israelis, the capability to build a nuclear weapon is the red line; to the president, it’s actual weaponization. All evidence currently indicates that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon. The president wants to continue to tighten economic sanctions to pressure Iran to make the right choice.

In all the discussion of this critical issue, the assumption has been that the Israeli government has the support of its people. Not so. A recent poll shows that only 19 percent of Israelis said they would support an Israeli military attack on Iran if it is not approved by the United States.

Further, the poll shows the Israelis share U.S. concerns that the costs of an Israeli strike on Iran would be high and the benefits small or nonexistent.

In that respect, they are aligned with the group of retired generals, intelligence and State Department officials who took out an ad in the Washington Post Monday (March 6) urging the president to resist the political pressure to attack Iran.

“Unless we or an ally is attacked, war should be the option of last resort,” the writers state in their letter. “Our brave servicemen and women expect you to exhaust all diplomatic and peaceful options before you send them into harm’s way.”

The American people have expended too much blood and treasure in the Middle East. The president is right to resist the calls to arms.