Armed confrontation between Iraq and the U.S.-led military forces assembled in the Gulf will produce no winners. Any scenario one may concoct or envision that involves substantial military clashes will result in multiple losers. In short, war in the Gulf, however strong the perceived impetus, is a lose-lose proposition.
The potential human costs, even in a short-term conflict, are staggering. Numerous religious and some political leaders in the United States have spoken clearly and forcefully to this point. Various individuals and groups now have merged into a formidable chorus opposing the massive U.S. military buildup and warning of devastating consequences should armed conflict erupt.
Moral and spiritual objections to this war are compelling enough. But the likely political consequences argue against the military option as well.
Amid the daily barrage of television, radio, and newspaper "coverage" of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, surprisingly little public debate has centered on the potentially disastrous political consequences of a military confrontation. In our political arena, where the "long term" is defined by the next closest election, few people are asking hard questions about the middle- and long-term implications should this conflict be settled on the battlefield.
Now, not after the fact, is the time for policy makers, religious leaders, editorial boards, op-ed writers, and concerned citizens to explore, examine, and debate not only the moral bases for U.S. policies, but also the possible political scenarios related to policy decisions. Such reflection may be painful; it may also be highly productive.
Several major, long-term consequences -- all negative for the United States -- come immediately to mind. These should give pause to those who advocate the Clint Eastwood school of diplomacy. Consider the following.