Huff Post- Posted: 2/15/12 | Updated: 2/15/12
By- David Wood
WASHINGTON — The threat of punishing U.S. military strikes underlies Washington’s campaign to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But there is no enthusiasm evident within the U.S. military for a war many believe would be messy, bloody, unpredictable and ultimately inconclusive.
Seeking to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, President Barack Obama has focused on coordinating international economic pressure against Iran and moved to strengthen economic sanctions just last week. But he warned in the Jan. 24 State of the Union address, “Let there be no doubt: American is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.”
It’s a truism of diplomacy to never to make a threat that you’re not prepared to carry out. There is no doubt that if ordered, the U.S. military would launch devastating attacks against Iran. Whether such strikes would come along with or instead of Israeli attacks, tactical planning is already under way, as is done routinely for a variety of potential military operations the Pentagon might be ordered to carry out, senior officers said.
“If called upon, I have no doubt that the armed forces of the United States will deal with whatever contingencies might unfold there,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said last week when asked about a possible military confrontation with Iran.
But Gen. Martin Dempsey, the crusty Army general who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told National Journal last month that a war with Iran “would be really destabilizing … I personally believe that we should be in the business of deterring [war] as a first priority,” he said.
The Joint Chiefs are hardly a bunch of shrinking violets. Dempsey commanded the 1st Armored Division for 14 months of hard combat in Iraq and served there another two years directing the training of Iraqi security forces.