Benjamin Reeves | October 24 2012 6:12 EDT
By Benjamin Reeves
House Intelligence Committee chair U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) seems to be living in his own weird little world of international relations. Rogers told CNN Tuesday night that bombing Iran's nuclear facilities would be “short of war” and that he doubts that the Iranian government wouldn't see targeted strikes again its nuclear facilities as “an act of war.”
“They [Israel] feel like they are under siege, and they can't afford to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. We think — I think — I believe there are capabilities we can engage in, short of war, believe me, that can help slow the program down, that we are just a little short of doing, I think,” Rogers said.
Those “short of war” capabilities basically boiled down to bombing Iranian nuclear facilities such as those at Parchin and Fordow. CNN's Erin Burnett specifically asked Rogers about the possible use of so-called massive ordinance, 30,000 pound bombs capable penetrating beneath the earth to destroy facilities, and whether their use against targets in Iran would constitute war or fall “short of war” in Rogers' view.
“If it is a very targeted strike, many would argue that that is one — that's short of war. And if it only seeks to go after their nuclear program, that is — we're not talking about invasions or naval engagements or troops on the ground, none of that. And this has been used by other — President Clinton used this tactic,” Rogers said.
The Congressman seemed to make the case that bombing Iranian nuclear facilities was not war because it did not involve putting boots on the ground, despite the fact that it would involve the destruction of enormously expensive national facilities in Iran. Perhaps even stranger, Rogers does not seem to think that the Iranians would see the bombing of their nuclear facilities as an act of war.
“That is an option that I believe is short of war if it is very selective, very targeted, only to the nuclear program. And we do know, those — that the Iranians believe that there is a whole panoply of options — war and then these targeted strikes they don't see as — wouldn't see as an act of war,” Rogers said.
It seems unlikely that the Iranians would see an attack on their nuclear facilities as anything other than an act of war. Iran's nuclear program has traditionally been a great source of national pride and has been strongly supported by the Iranian public. Moreover, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rhetoric towards the the U.S. and Israel has consistently been highly combative and belicose.
“If somebody thinks that he can bring the Iranian nation to the negotiating table and (to the resumption of) relations through ill temper and pressure, he is definitely wrong,” Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, according to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency. "If they have such expectation, they should change their method and correct their behavior.”
Not only does it seem unlikely Iran would not consider a strike against its nuclear facilities to be war, such a strike would be a textbook example of an act of war. On a conceptual level, “War is a violent way for determining who gets to say what goes on in a given territory, for example, regarding: who gets power, who gets wealth and resources, whose ideals prevail, who is a member and who is not, which laws get made, what gets taught in schools, where the border rests, how much tax is levied, and so on,” according to the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Ultimately, war is profoundly anthropological: it is about which group of people gets to say what goes on in a given territory.”
Regardless of Rogers' mincing of words, a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would definitionally constitute an act of war as it would be exclusively about controlling what Iran does within its own sovereign territory. If we define war as being the use of violent means to control another nation's actions, then a strike against Iran would certainly count. On a purely pragmatic level, it seems almost certain that Iran would treat such a strike as an act of war.
This is not to say that Rogers' consideration of a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would be uncalled for. He does caution that a military action may be necessary to prevent Iran from being able to build a bomb. It is not unreasonable to say that military action may be a necessary last resort, and this opinion does seem to align more or less with the opinions of President Obama and Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Yet it is important to acknowledge that such a military strike would constitute an act of war, both conceptually and in the eyes of the Iranian government.
Particularly worrisome is the fact that Rogers seems to believe that the necessity of a strike against Iran is imminent. “So that's why all of this angst over Iran, this timeline, this window, is getting smaller,” Rogers said, speaking about the 20 percent uranium enrichment levels achieved thus far by Iran.
Rogers seems to want to bury his head in the sand and avoid thinking about the consequences of an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. To say that bombing Iran would not be war is childish and dangerous wishful thinking. Regardless of the fact that the U.S. may be able to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities without putting soldiers on the ground, the nation must be aware of the diplomatic fallout, as well as any likely military responses by Iran. Rogers should face these consequences straight on and discuss all possible outcomes so that the American people know exactly what stopping Iran might mean.