No attack on Iran!
How to respond to the administration's threat of war against Iran?
Whether you can bring yourself to believe that they would actually do it or not, we have to proceed as if they are going to. To sit quietly, hoping they won't, is to refuse to learn from quite recent and bitter experience. It also hands them the political stick they want to use against Democratic candidates.
So, what to do?
The most important thing is to counter the characterization of the situation as a crisis. There is no crisis.
It is almost certainly the case that nothing we and the rest of the world in concert can do will prevent Iran from having nuclear power technology. It is their right, as it is that of any other developed country and signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It may be that nothing can prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But they are many years, at least a decade from having that capacity.
This is not about weapons. The administration's threats and war-drumming are not about weapons, any more than was their drive to invade Iraq. Are theirs the actions of people concerned with nuclear proliferation? They have unilaterally abrogated the ABM treaty, defunded the disposal of Soviet client nukes, adopted an official first-strike nuclear posture, developed new nuclear weapons, encouraged favored governments to undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty, bullied international arms control agencies, purged arms control experts from the State Department, weakened international agreements and alliances of all kinds, and on and on.
Nor is the war drive about spreading democracy. This point doesn't need to be elaborated, other than to note that of course being the target of military attacks (and threats of military attacks) drives people closer to their government, however unpopular that government is. An assault on Iran would end the pro-democracy movement there for many years to come.
U.S. troops occupy the countries on either side of Iran. U.S. bases ring Iran. The war against Iran is about strategic control of the Middle East and Central Asia.
War is not the answer. Public, repeated threats of bombing are not diplomacy. "Coercive diplomacy" is not diplomacy. It's war-mongering.
Our ruling regime has a first-strike policy. This policy was explicitly stated in the National Security Strategy papers of 2002 and 2005, underlined in the Pentagon's new official nuclear posture, and put into action in the invasion of Iraq.
Set aside the more fundamental rogue-superpower, endless-war-creating aspects of a first-strike policy. Just on the amoral level of execution, such an approach requires plentiful and high-quality intelligence. Our intelligence on Iranian capabilities, intentions, political dynamics, and virtually everything else is very poor. Twenty-five years of no embassy, trade, consulates, or remotely normal exchanges will do that for you. On top of that, a credulity-straining set of screwups have wiped out many of the intel channels we did have until recently (the Chalabi-INC debacle, the outing of Valerie Plame who was apparently monitoring Iranian nuclear activity, and other serious gaffes detailed in James Risen's book), not to mention the vast increase in Iranian access to U.S. military information made possible by our occupation of Iraq and close work with Shiite parties in Iraq.
A policy toward Iran that is in the national interest would be the exact opposite of this administration's. Begin direct negotiations, open channels of communication. We are the threat, and only we can de-escalate it.
To sum up:
There is no crisis. This is not about weapons.
War is not the answer.