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The Iran Project: Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran

This document is published by The Iran Project; the content is the collective view of the signers.

This paper offers a fact-based analysis that we hope will provide Americans sufficient understanding to weigh the balance between the benefits and costs of using military force against Iran—between the necessity and human folly of resorting to war.

From the signers of this document


Dear Fellow Citizens,

As a group of interested former officials of the United States government and professionals in U.S. national security, we support the publication of the attached report, “Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Military Action against Iran.” We applaud the authors of this paper and their goal of contributing an objective, nonpartisan analysis to a critical national debate. While some of us made contributions to the text, we do not necessarily
agree with every point in this detailed and professional report.

We do, however, believe that this report will contribute to informed public discussion of an important challenge to American interests in the world. We also believe the report is consistent with United States policy—maintaining pressure on Iran while holding open the possibility of reaching a political solution, without ruling out the use of military force.

The paper draws no final conclusions and offers no recommendations. It offers an objective description of some of the prerequisites for thinking about the use of military force against Iran: the need to establish clear objectives, evaluate the capacity of the U.S. military to achieve those objectives, plan an exit strategy, and then weigh the benefits and costs of the military options.

We commend this report to the American people as a basis for open and informed discussion of a matter of crucial importance to America’s national security. As Thomas Jefferson once noted, “In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.” This paper seeks to contribute to the democratic “art of reasoning,” as citizens across the nation debate the question of
the use of force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.


Full Report (PDF)

Source: Wilson Center

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