Tags: Iran | iran | nuclear deal | tom cotton | retaliation | desert fox | bill clinton

Matthew Kroenig: Iran Can Retaliate if Attacked for Nuclear Plans

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:03 PM

Former Department of Defense adviser Matthew Kroenig, who has long advocated an attack on Iran, said that he still favors that course of action but warns that freshman Sen. Tom Cotton's reasoning for such measures may not be quite accurate and that Iran could retaliate with strikes of its own.

Earlier this week, the Arkansas Republican told the "Washington Watch With Tony Perkins" show, a Family Research Council's radio program, that a focused military strike would be along the lines of what President [Bill] Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox," and could include "several days' air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions."

But Kroenig told The Washington Post for a "fact-checker" story on Thursday, that while he agrees with Cotton that such strikes would be much like Operation Desert Fox, there are differences that will come into play.

"Sen. Cotton is correct that U.S. strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would look more like Operation Desert Fox than the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan which is the analogy many critics of military action invoke," Kroenig said. "The strikes in Operation Desert Fox took place over four calendar days and that would be more than enough time to destroy Iran’s key nuclear facilities and related targets."

But still, he said, there is a key difference: Iran of 2015 is not Iraq of the Clinton years.

"Unlike Iraq in 1998, Iran would almost certainly retaliate militarily with ballistic missile strikes in the region, by encouraging terrorist and proxy groups to conduct attacks, and by harassing and attacking ships in the Persian Gulf," Kroenig, the Georgetown University professor and author of "A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat," warned.

On the radio program, Cotton said that the Obama administration "certainly should have kept the threat of military force on the table throughout, which always improves diplomacy."

And, he said, Obama "is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East, as we saw in Iraq."

Cotton has been a vocal opponent of striking a nuclear deal with Iran all along, including penning a letter, signed by 46 other Republicans, to Iranian leaders to let them know that any deal would be "nothing more than an executive order" that could end when President Barack Obama leaves office in two years.

The letter, though, was criticized by both sides, with Obama calling it "ironic" for some lawmakers to want to "make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran" and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calling the document a "propaganda ploy" with "no legal value."

The Post reported that Clinton's order came just as the House of Representatives was voting for articles of impeachment on him in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and that Clinton made the order after accusing Iraq of failing to cooperate with weapons inspectors, while Iran is actually in the middle of talks about limiting the country's nuclear ambitions.

Caroline Rabbitt, Cotton's communications director, told The Post that the senator believes that Desert Fox is a very close comparison, however.

"It serves as an analogy of the intent, execution and objective for that type of operation [long-range strike to target weapons facilities],” she said. "Then and now, there existed the possibility of retaliation and the possibility that the initial campaign would not degrade WMD facilities to the planned level. Then and now, those contingencies had to be considered and planned for.

"Further, there have been notable advances in ordinance capabilities, particularly precision-targeting and ability to effectively strike hardened targets, that would allow us to take out Iranian facilities more effectively than when Desert Fox occurred.”

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Former Department of Defense adviser Matthew Kroenig, who has long advocated an attack on Iran, warns that freshman Sen. Tom Cotton's reasoning for such a course of action may not be quite accurate and that Iran could retaliate with strikes of its own.
iran, nuclear deal, tom cotton, retaliation, desert fox, bill clinton
Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:03 PM
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