We should give Iran advanced warning that we will damage and likely destroy its nuclear facilities. It is not an act of war against Iran, the Iranian people or Islam. It is a pre-emptive attack solely against their nuclear facilities and the military targets protecting them.
Scoblete reasonably asks:
Since when is bombing a country’s infrastructure not an act of war?
A cynical answer would be, “When we’re the ones doing the bombing.” That might be the way some people see it, but it doesn’t explain this comment very well. I assume what the military planner means is what the last several Presidents have had in mind when they have ordered military action against other states. They claim that the U.S. is attacking the regime (or facilities of the regime), and that it is not “at war” with the country or its people. This is a convenient fiction that the U.S. maintained when U.S. and NATO forces were bombing Serbia in 1999, and similar formulations have been used to distinguish between our wars for regime change and wars against the countries those regimes control.
There is an important distinction between a government and the country it governs. This is a distinction that often gets erased at other times when it is politically useful (e.g., when criticizing foolish government policies can be portrayed as disloyal and unpatriotic), but then is exaggerated for other countries in order to make believe that attacking another country’s territory, bombing its infrastructure, and killing many of its soldiers (and some of its civilians) are not attacks on the country itself. It is also a distinction that is usually lost on the population of a country when their government’s military forces and facilities come under attack from foreign forces. Americans would hardly have been any less outraged if the Japanese government had declared that its attack on Pearl Harbor was “not an act of war against America or the American people,” but was simply a “pre-emptive attack solely on our naval facilities and the military targets protecting them.” Nothing to be worried about, folks, it’s just an aggressive military strike against your countrymen on your soil, but you shouldn’t take it personally.
It would be very convenient for an attacking government if it were allowed to define an unprovoked attack as something other than an act of war against the country being attacked. Oddly enough, the people in the country that is being attacked also have a say in how the attack is viewed. If there is one thing more arrogant than presuming to have the right to wage “preventive” war against other states, it is the condescending attitude associated with it that tells the people in the other country that our egregious violations of their national sovereignty and assaults on their territory aren’t directed at them. Then there are those pesky details in the U.N. Charter that make the entire thing illegal, but who are we kidding? International law became almost entirely irrelevant to the debate over bombing Iran a long time ago.