By Lt. General Robert G. Gard and Greg Terryn
A majority of Americans, an even larger majority of Jewish Americans, the entirety of the United Nations Security Council, and a long list of former U.S. national security leaders and diplomats endorse the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as the best possible option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. But regardless of the merits of the negotiated agreement, some critics, like former Ambassador John Bolton, who explained why in a recent article, are unshaken in their belief that military force is the only way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This shortsighted and reckless approach would be counter-productive; as former director of the CIA Michael Hayden has explained, bombing Iran “will guarantee that which we are trying to prevent: an Iran that will stop at nothing to, in secret, develop a nuclear weapon.”
Unfortunately, this is hardly a surprise; Bolton, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and others were calling for airstrikes on Iran even during negotiations. But to advocate for military action is to ignore the fact that a strike on Iran “would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve [any] long-term objectives,” as explained by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At best, an attack would delay Iran’s nuclear program “a couple of years;” and at worst, it would invite retaliation, eliminate opportunities for inspection and verification, and galvanize Iran to build a nuclear weapon.