By Lt. General (USA ret.) Robert Gard, Lt. General Norman Seip (USAF ret.) & Brig. General Stephen Cheney (USMC ret.)
December 9, 2013
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the recent agreement between the so-called P5+1 (European nations, the United States, China and Russia) and Iran. Though this agreement has faced opposition from some in Washington, we and other leading military and national security experts support this first-step agreement with Iran.
Strong international sanctions have succeeded in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. Now is the time to allow the diplomats to do their work. Now is not the time to enact a new round of sanctions that would push the Iranians away and sabotage the diplomatic effort.
Addressing the Iranian nuclear threat presents our country with two real options: diplomacy or probable military action. Given the enormous costs and consequences of military action, trying to resolve the Iranian nuclear threat through diplomacy first is a far wiser choice given the alternative. While simultaneously maintaining our military readiness, we should give this initial deal a chance to succeed as the international community closely monitors Iran¹s compliance and works to achieve a full resolution.
As retired military leaders, we know firsthand the enormous consequences of military action. Sending the men and women of our military into combat should always be the last resort, undertaken only when all options for a diplomatic resolution that satisfies our national security interests have been exhausted. Armed conflict with Iran to fully disable its nuclear program would require an enormous U.S. military commitment, and have unknown security consequences for the whole of the Middle East. Though we are confident that our military is ready and capable of undertaking such a mission, we believe that, in this instance, diplomacy is the best tool for ensuring Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
The current agreement may not be perfect (few agreements ever are). But war is even less perfect.
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