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The Iran war party and the war skeptics

In one corner, we have the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the heads of the US and Israeli intelligence communities, and the Pentagon. In the other corner, we have TV pundits and politicians.

By Staff writer / February 21, 2012



We are in the midst of one of the semiannual national freakouts over Iran's nuclear program. In response, oil prices are at eye-catching heights, Iran is promising to fight to defend its interests, and many of the cheerleaders for the Iraq war (for instance, Max Boot) are getting the band together to warn, once more, that all will be lost if we don't strike soon.

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But despite all the hysteria – Judith Miller, whose articles for The New York Times a decade ago played up Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, seems to believe it's "5 minutes to midnight" for Iran's nuclear program – some of the leading voices in US defense policy are making an increasingly strong case against a war, at least any time soon.

Over the weekend, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said unilateral Israeli action over Iran would be "destabilizing" and that "it's not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran."

That followed comments from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who reiterated the US intelligence community's assessment that Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapon. Instead, US officials believe Iran would like the material and expertise to build a bomb without crossing the line to actual weaponization. Mr. Clapper said a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran could at best set back Iran's nuclear program by two years, and said he didn't believe Israel was seriously contemplating an attack in the near future.

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