Congress Should Participate in an Iran "War Game"

What if Congress and the American people could have seen realistic accounts of the casualties and consequences of the Iraq war before the President ordered the invasion? Would Congress have given the President authority to use force? If the American people could have watched Congress participate in a realistic war game exercise, would the run-up to the Iraq war have run out of steam?

We may never know the answers to these questions about the Iraq war, but that is not the case concerning a potential military strike against Iran. We've heard the rhetoric from the President. I believe that Members of Congress should call for and participate in an Iran war game to fully understand the casualties and consequences of an Iran military strike.

The Pentagon secretly conducts war games all the time to analyze a range of scenarios to prepare for war. Congress should do no less. An Iran war game would faithfully and accurately reproduce the information and decision making progress with Members of Congress directly involved. Furthermore, I believe the entire war game should be televised so that the American people could watch and make judgments for themselves.

It can be done. I know because I've met with recently retired, high-level CIA intelligence officers who did his kind of analysis as they protected America's secrets. What's more, I've met a retired Air Force Colonel who used to produce war games inside the Pentagon. Simply put, we have the people who can do produce an accurate Iran war game.

Now, anyone who knows Jim McDermott knows that I have opposed the Iraq war since before the President ordered the invasion. A fair question would be whether I am suggesting an Iran war game to tilt the outcome to favor a point of view. The power of the Iran war game idea is that it would be conducted openly, involving Members of Congress from both parties, and I would hope before television cameras in real time so that the American people could watch. The very openness and inclusiveness of this idea guarantees its independence and integrity.

Today, the President claims he has the power to decide if we go to war in Iran. The Constitution vests a declaration of war decision with Congress. In a Democracy, the people have a right to know what we might be getting into. When I say "know," I mean have facts available that provide us a realistic and truthful range of possibilities.

Remember, before the Iraq war, we were told that our soldiers would be greeted with flowers and they'd be home in 90 days. That may have been one outcome of a war game simulation but not the only one; and, as it turns out, about as far from the real outcome of the Iraq war as anything could possibly be. I don't want to see a repeat of that with respect to Iran.

An Iran war game would give Congress and the American people a realistic assessment of the range of casualties, consequences and outcomes if the President ordered a military strike. That's the kind of truthful information that ought to be available in a Democracy.

I hope you agree. If you do, please urge your representatives and media to vigorously support an Iran war game involving Congress and the American people.

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