The Buzz

Domestic Fallout of an Iran Attack

“What if Israel bombed Iran?” That headline graced the Washington Post’s Outlook section on Sunday, over three articles exploring the ramifications from the perspective of Washington, Tehran and Tel Aviv. The piece on Washington, by Karim Sadjadpour (Carnegie) and Blake Hounshell (Foreign Policy magazine), was noteworthy—and not in a salutary way—by one sentence, presented after the authors project a 40 percent jump in oil prices in twenty-four hours, the largest one-day increase ever: “CNN interviews Americans at gas stations in swing states such as Florida and Ohio; most blame Iran, not Israel or Obama, for the price jumps.”

These guys are dreaming. The implication here is that Americans will simply accept the necessity of this attack, accept the necessity of America getting drawn into the fray, and accept whatever negative impact that would have on their lives. Don’t count on it. Such a development would drive a wedge through American politics, just as it would drive a wedge through the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Missing from their analysis is the implication of a 40 percent increase in oil prices within twenty-four hours. The global economy would swoon, growth would slow to a crawl, unemployment and the specter of unemployment would rise, and the blow to the American psychology would be powerful.

Yet the authors, with a blithe wave of the hand, studiously refrain from following the syllogism of their hypothetical to its logical conclusions. This kind of thinking is seen from those who support a U.S. attack on Iran and, barring that, an Israeli assault that would draw America into its third Middle East war in a decade. They don’t contemplate what would happen because such a mental exploration would undermine their enthusiasm for the thing.

One must hope that national leaders are bringing more rigor to their own analysis of the consequences of such an attack, including not just the economic fallout but also destabilization of the Middle East, a surge in virulent anti-Americanism, increased terrorism and expenditures in American treasure and blood. That should be enough to give them pause, one can only hope.