NEW YORK, Apr 16: A US conflict with Iran could be even more damaging to America's interests than the war with Iraq, former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote in today's New York Times.
In an op-ed article co-authored with Steven Simon, a former State Department official who also worked for the National Security Council, Clarke wrote reports that the Bush administration is contemplating bombing nuclear sites in Iran raised concerns that ''would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process.'' Iran's likely response would be to ''use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States,'' Clarke and Simon warned.
''Iran has forces as its command far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field,'' they said, citing Iran's links with the militant group Hezbollah.
Iran could also make things much worse in Iraq, they wrote, adding ''there is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready.'' President George W. Bush might then sanction more bombing, Clarke and Simon said, hoping Iranians would overthrow the Tehran government. But ''more likely, the American war against Iran would guarantee the regime decades more of control.'' The authors concluded by warning that ''the parallels to the run-up to the war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was 'No war plan on my desk' despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion.'' Congress ''must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well,'' they said.