Here is perhaps the best one-paragraph definition of why a military strike on Iran would be, in the words of former Mossad head Meir Dagan, “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” Roger Cohen of the NY Times:
This [a military strike], in the cautionary words of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, could have “unintended consequences.” Among them: a lifeline for the weakened Islamic Republic that would lock it in for a generation; a sharp rise in American dead in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan; direct or indirect (through Hezbollah) retaliation against Israel; a wave of radicalization just when jihadist ideology seems tired and the Arab Spring stands at a delicate juncture; a blow to the global economy from soaring oil prices; a revival of Iran’s sagging regional appeal as it becomes yet another Muslim country to face Western bombs; increased terrorism; and a subsequent Iranian race for a nuclear weapon fired by resentments as indelible as those left by the C.I.A. coup that ousted Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.
I think he is too pessimistic and negative in his proposed solutions of containing and restraining Iran in various ways. It is not too late, in my view, to restrain Iran’s nuclear program by mutually agreed limitations in return for lifting some of the sanctions we have accumulated against Iran over the past 10 years.
However I do agree with his concluding sentence: Time is not on the Islamic Republic’s side.