Is force the last and only option on the table given that the "best deal" we could get leads to Iran having the ability to get nuclear weapons?
If so, do we need to be prepared to bomb until we get what we want?
Air warfare must convince Iranian leaders that capitulating to American terms represents their least painful option. That’s asking a lot considering how much Tehran—and the body politic—treasure the nuclear option. Landing hammerblows on many targets at a time offers the best prospects for success from the air. Go big, go fast, keep up the pressure—and think about what comes next should the air campaign fall short.
I think the we need to assume the air campaign falls short. One fake "baby milk factory bombing" among a plethora of denial and deception options and our will to inflict hammer blows will collapse.
An air attack on Iran's nuclear facilities needs to include Iranian command-and-control plus military assets in order to protect our aircraft and to limit Iran's counter-attack options, as well as blockade Iran. It will look a lot like war.
We also have to reinforce our ground forces in Kuwait because Iraq--even before the June 2014 collapse--can't hold off the Iranians if they invade. With a lot of Americans in Iraq without ground power to protect them from more than terrorist threats, this will be a difficult mission, especially since Iran is intermingled with the Iraqis now to battle ISIL.
A blockade probably isn't sufficient. We should lay siege to Iran by occupying Iranian territory to deny them their oil export options from the source.
Since our combat brigades are out of Iraq, I'd leave out the occupation of Iranian territory on the ground and limit our operations there to a no-fly and no-drive zone that attempts to keep Iranian forces away from Iraq; while capturing Kharg Island and other Iranian islands in the Gulf until Iran capitulates on the nuclear issue or the mullah regime falls.
The current oil glut gives us more freedom of action for military action that in the past was constrained by the prospect of losing Iranian oil exports on the world market.
If we decide that force must be used, we must also decide that we are at war with the mullah-led regime of Iran and not think of an attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure as a silver bullet that ends the threat for good, as I note near the end of this longish post.
It's a big decision. Have no doubt about that. And it might not be big enough to win the war.
But deciding we can live with a nuclear Iran is a big decision, too. That's probably a decision for war, too.
UPDATE: It's come to this:
Five groups - CREDO, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org Political Action and USAction - sent a letter warning Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Whip Richard Durbin and other Democratic Senate leaders that they would hold them accountable if they backed legislation seen as detrimental to the talks.
Defining Leftism as defending Iran's path to nuclear weapons. Who will hold these groups accountable, eh?