As I write this I can almost hear the drumbeat of war with Iran. (I should also note that my neighbor is putting up shelves.) Many war hawks, led by Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, a U.S. Senator for three months, want U.S. air strikes to obliterate Iran’s nuclear capability.

“It would only take several days,” Cotton says assuredly, as though attacking an industrialized country of 75 million would have no consequences. Despite his impressive military background, Cotton’s simplistic view sounds like he’s describing a video game.

Possibly because he wasn’t born yet, the 37-year-old Cotton forgets that we don’t exactly have clean hands in Iran. In 1953 we helped engineer a coup of their democratically elected president and then we installed the Shah who would soon become reviled. To quote Rick Perry, “Oops.”

Or maybe Cotton has also forgotten that, following 9/11, a million Iranians staged candlelight vigils in sympathy with the U.S. Unfortunately, and based on lies, George Bush then invaded Iraq. The sad fact is Iran’s tyrannical dominance in the Middle East was essentially created by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Oops No. 2.

With talk of bombing Iran, I am reminded of a John McCain faux pas while campaigning for the presidency in South Carolina in 2007. Responding to a question about military action against Iran, he inexplicably referred to the Beach Boys’ song, “Barbara Ann,” and sang, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” Suffice it to say, the only one who bombed that day was McCain.

Given the hell he endured as a Vietnam POW, it’s surprising that McCain joked about war. On the other hand, at least he labeled water boarding “torture” and was in favor of closing Guantanamo.

Other Republican politicians have also made questionable jokes about war. In 1984, while rehearsing his weekly fireside chat, Ronald Reagan kidded into the microphone, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We will begin bombing in five minutes.” (Yikes!)

Russia immediately placed the Soviet Army on alert, which didn’t generate guffaws at the Pentagon. (The bizarre episode was right out of “Dr. Strangelove.”)

In 2004, at the Television and Radio Correspondents Dinner, George Bush had the chutzpah (or remarkable insensitivity) to joke about missing WMDs, the rationale for the ill-fated Iraq War. Hamming it up, Bush feigned searching for the weapons under the podium. “No, not there,” he lamented, “but they gotta be somewhere.” Bush thought the whole thing was a hoot.

The Iraq War cost 4,493American GIs their life, including 200 women and 4347 since Bush proclaimed, “mission accomplished.” Over 30,000 U.S. soldiers were injured while over 100,000 innocent Iraqis died. But, to this day, Bush has “no regrets.” In fact, he happily plays golf, gives $100,000 speeches and paints portraits of cats. What a guy.

One Republican politician who didn’t see any humor in war was Dwight Eisenhower. With critical help from the Russians and the Brits, and as Commander of the Allied Forces, he defeated Hitler during WW2. Bush, on the other hand, during Vietnam and with help from the Air National Guard “Champagne Unit,” was essentially a draft dodger. (Poor George.)

Commenting on war, Ike solemnly observed, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” No punch line there.

Back to Iran. At a minimum, I wish it would recognize Israel’s right to exist. Everyone’s against their developing the bomb, myself included, but one can see why they would want one. For starters, we never invade countries that have it.

Of course, we’re the only nation to have actually dropped a nuclear bomb. (But only twice.) We were taught in school that the A-bombs ended the war. That might be wrong.

There’s considerable evidence that the bombs didn’t precipitate the Japanese surrender as much as the Russian troops preparing to attack in Manchuria. Worth noting, Ike, MacArthur, Patton, LeMay, Nimitz, Halsey and Leahy were among the many military commanders who considered dropping the bombs unnecessary or immoral or both.

I don’t pretend to know the right course in Iran. However, repeating the “Munich Metaphor” — as Ted Cruz and others are doing in comparing Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain — is beyond ridiculous. It’s dangerous. Where did that flawed logic in Vietnam and Iraq and get us? (Other than lots of body bags.)

The U.S. is 239 years old. Shockingly, it seems we’ve been in one war or another for a staggering 222 years, or 93 percent of our existence. (Google “America at war 93 percent of the time.”) What I’m suggesting in Iran is that, this time, we be genuinely open to options other than war. That said, I’m happy to report my neighbor finally finished putting up his shelves. Ah, peace at last.

Jack Neworth is at and and can be reached at

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