The insanity of trying to start a war with Iran continues. The latest appears in the Daily Beast with the headline, U.S., Israel Discuss Triggers for Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure:

The Obama administration is trying to assure Israel privately that it would strike Iran militarily if Tehran’s nuclear program crosses certain “red lines”—while attempting to dissuade the Israelis from acting unilaterally. Eli Lake reports exclusively.

When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opined earlier this month that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could “consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret,” the Israelis went ballistic behind the scenes. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, lodged a formal diplomatic protest known as a demarche. And the White House was thrust into action, reassuring the Israelis that the administration had its own “red lines” that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally.

The only country not eager to go to war is Iran. Ignore the bombastic harangues by Ahmadinejad. The Iranian mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard understand very well that they will be destroyed if they start a war. But that’s not their strategy.

Iran is pursuing nuclear enrichment with the ultimate hope of having the fuel necessary to develop a nuclear weapon, but they are years from acquiring such a weapon. They want a nuke for one reason–it buys them some insurance against being invaded by the United States.

We are acting like a drunk teenager. Most of our political leaders, especially on the Republican side, are insisting that we will go to war to stop Iran from acquiring a nuke. We issue meaningless threats, e.g. “We’re gonna kick their ass.” Sounds good in theory, but when you look at the actual expenses and logistics involved it becomes a daunting mission that could sunder our nation’s economy and offers no firm guarantee of immediate success.

Why is it that we must go to war with Iran who does not yet have a nuke but can co-exist with a nuclear Pakistan? This is just insane. If you compare the terrorism that Iran has sponsored with the terrorism backed by Pakistan, the groups sponsored, funded and protected by Pakistan have killed thousands more Americans than the Iranians. Yet, somehow, we don’t hear politicians lining up to declare that we must stop Pakistan at any cost.

My position on Pakistan is pretty straightforward–leave them to their own devices and forge a close alliance with India. I don’t advocate going to war with Pakistan. Well, if we can live with those salafist assholes in Pakistan, we can certainly find a middle ground with Tehran. The more outside influence and media can infiltrate Iran the more difficulty the mullahs have in staying in power.

There is a smart way to deal with Iran, but going to war with them is not smart.

Iran recognizes that it is in a weak position. We only have to worry what happens if we decide to back Iran into a corner. They may be weak but desperation born of weakness is very dangerous. An unprovoked attack by Israel or the United States almost certainly will spawn a series of retaliatory measures by the Iranians. These will include mining the Persian Gulf, suicide boat attacks on US military ships and oil tankers, terrorist attacks on commercial airliners and attacks on oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Careless threats are not a wise policy. Unfortunately, none of the Republicans (except for Ron Paul) understand this basic point and, with each passing day, neither does Barack Obama.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.