Coming Soon in This Space: The Encouraging Push-Back to Bomb-Iran Plans

The post I'm storing up for tomorrow, when I'm no longer in meeting rooms or at airports or on airplanes, will be about Iran. In specific, why we should be encouraged by the emerging push-back to rhetoric from (a) all Republican candidates not named Ron Paul, (b) their supporters and strategists, and (c) various parts of the press, about the "inevitability" of war with Iran.

To anyone who remembers the press and policy-world buzz through 2002 and early 2003 about the need to "get serious" by facing the "need" to invade Iraq, the increasing pro-war rumbling sounds very familiar. But this time, unlike ten years ago, more people are offering first-principle cautions, questions, and rebuttals, earlier in the process, and in more established and prominent outlets. One reason, no doubt, is that we're that much further removed from the shock of 9/11. And another is precisely that we have been through this cycle before, with Iraq, and may have learned something. That's what I'll go into, in more detail, soon. For background reading right now, this excellent summary by Heather Hurlburt at Democracy Arsenal points toward a number of useful analyses. Also please check The Atlantic's Robert Wright, passim, these past few weeks, and William Pfaff at his site. Lots more to come.

Further back in The Atlantic's archive: my article from 2004 on the purely military arguments against bombing Iran, and Jeffrey Goldberg's from 2010 about whether Israel has reached a "point of no return" in its plans to bomb -- along with the related special report that we ran on (This theme was of course taken up yesterday in The New York Times Magazine.)

If the Iraq experience positions us for something more like an actual debate this time -- and the proper consideration of the Constitutional, strategic, human, and economic consequences of various policies on Iran -- then it will have done some good. Signing off now, more tomorrow.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.