Limited Objectives


In recent weeks the news had been awash with news of Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. Although the United States and the European Union have sought to find solutions to the problem other than war and violence, GOP candidates and Israeli spokespeople continue to advocate striking out against Iran militarily. Iran, in response, has threatened to close of the Straight of Hormuz to shipping thus cutting off the much needed oil reserves of the Persian Gulf to world markets. With the end of American involvement in Iraq and the scaling down of military operations in Afghanistan for the expended cessation of NATO involvement in 2014, many people are wondering what will happen in Iran? Since the United States has already fought two decade long conflicts with either or Iran’s neighbors, will Uncle Sam choose to test her battle hardened veterans against Iran’s feared Republican Guard? How will the United States lead Israel and the Arab League in a unified response to Iranian belligerence? Will Israel listen to American diplomats urging restraint or will we continue to see Iranian scientists assassinated and mysterious explosions happening at Iranian nuclear sites? Finally, what will the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf do in response to Iranian nuclear posturing? With civil war threatening in Syria and many other countries reeling from democratic movements, how should the Arab League respond? The answer is limited objectives, and our example is found in the international prosecution of the first Gulf War.

A great example of limited objectives is the first Gulf War fought from 1990-1991. This war was prosecuted to under UN Resolution 660 that called for the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and eventually was used as the legal basis for the war. In addition, the war was fought with a coalition of international forces and prosecuted by joint command under the United States’ lead. Although the coalition forces pressed to within 150 miles of Baghdad and could have easily rid the world of Saddam Hussein, they followed the charter and did not extend the war. In contrast, the second Gulf War that ended only last year is a war of unlimited objectives, little legal basis, and almost no international support. It sapped thousands of lives and trillions of dollars because this war had almost unlimited objectives in completely removing Saddam Hussein, the Baath Party, and any form of terrorism from Iraq. If military force is used in Iran, it must be done with limited objectives.
Although many feel that Iran is the West’s greatest enemy, the accused proliferation of nuclear weapons cannot be used as a pretext for an American led regime change in Iran. Instead, any military action (whether it is done by the US, NATO, Israel an Arab nation) should be used strictly to halt the development of nuclear weapons in Iran through surgical strikes and if needed, limited ground forces deployment. By limiting the objectives and targets to strictly nuclear weapons development facilities and that infrastructure that protects and feeds them, the United States and her allies would be able to minimize non-combatant casualties, have legal basis for the war through enforcement of The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In addition, the United States would not be drawn into another decade long war of occupation. By establishing limited objectives and building international support, the United States and its allies would likely be able to cease Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons development while staying away from a costly and deadly war of occupation in Iran.

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