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H. Res. 1553

One of my commenters alerted me to House Res. 1553, which states:

Expressing support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel.

Naturally, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is among the resolution’s 46 co-sponsors. The National Iranian American Council has called on Minority Leader Boehner to reject the measure, but why would he bother? Two of his leadership colleagues, Mike Pence and Thaddeus McCotter, co-sponsored the resolution, and it has the support of other high-profile Republican members, including Paul Ryan and Dan Burton. That tells me that this is not just a product of hard-liners such as Michelle Bachmann and Peter Steve King, but that it expresses the views of a fairly broad-cross section of the Republican members in the House. I guess I can’t stop “nitpicking,” but this seems like an awfully strange resolution for an “antiwar” Republican to co-sponsor. It is also thoroughly depressing that Paul Ryan, one of the few credible figures in the conference when it comes to fiscal responsibility, is among the supporters of such a ludicrous measure.

Why is it ludicrous? Where do we start? First, Iran poses no nuclear threats of any kind at present, so the threat cannot possibly be immediate and it cannot possibly be existential. When there is no threat to eliminate, this resolution is simply an endorsement of unnecessary aggression by a U.S. ally. That aggression is directed against a regional power that could inflict significant damage on U.S. forces, bases and allies, including Israel, in any retaliatory strikes it would launch in response to an unprovoked attack against its nuclear facilities. That doesn’t begin to cover the harm such a conflict could cause to the global economy and the stability of the broader region. There is obviously no understanding among the resolution’s supporters of what an Israeli attack on Iran would do to American interests in the Near East, and there is apparently no awareness of the escalation by Hizbullah to which Israel would be exposed as a result.

What may be worse still is that Israel has less of a chance of successfully destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities than U.S. forces would have, and it is unlikely that a U.S. attack would do anything more than briefly delay Iran’s nuclear program. Even if we granted that Iran posed a “nuclear threat” to Israel, Israel could not eliminate it if it tried, so the resolution is little more than an invitation to senseless warfare that has no hope of accomplishing its objective. An attack on Iran would be a strategic disaster and it would be grossly unjust whether Israel or the U.S. launched it, but there is something especially unseemly about American hawks backing an Israeli attack. This allows them to pretend that they are “merely” affirming support for an ally and they can try to claim that they are not putting Americans in harm’s way. In reality, they are jeopardizing the safety of U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf states, and they are risking the security of Israel so that they may be seen as zealously “pro-Israel” here at home.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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