Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, formerly assistant vice chief of staff of the United States Air Force, argues that there is a feasible military option against the mullahs’ nuclear program. He proceeds to describe such a plan, which he contends would set back the mullahs’ program by a least five years and would destroy the Iranian air defense system. The later accomplishment would reduce, but hardly eliminate, the risk of Iranian retaliation.
It doesn’t seem far-fetched to think that we set back Iranian nuclear aspirations by a period of five years. Moreover, by monitoring the ways in which Iran scrambles to rebuild its program we should be able to obtain information that would enable us to set Iran back again, if necessary. There certainly are risks associated with taking such action against Iran, but these risks stem mostly from the fact that Iran has developed (and at times used) the capacity to cause much harm in the region. Thus, citing these risks tends to underscore how much we have to fear from allowing Iran to gain the additional capacity to cause harm that nuclear status would confer.
In any case, as I’ve tried to explain in the past, we have only two options — tolerate a nuclear Iran or take military action to prevent that outcome.