The indispensable Billmon points us to a sober and methodical 26-page report by retired U.S. Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner for the Century Foundation, “The End of the ‘Summer of Diplomacy’:  Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran.” (PDF)

It’s a quick and easy read, but not a pleasant one. In a sentence: War with Iran will accomplish nothing we want, and a lot that we don’t.

“At the end of the path that the administration seems to have chosen [systematic air bombardment], will the issues with Iran have been resolved? No. Will the region be better off? No. Is it clear Iran will abandon its nuclear program? No. On the other hand, can Iran defeat the United States militarily? No. Will the United States force a regime change on Iran? In all probability it will not. Will the economy of the United States suffer? In all probability it will. Will the United States have weakened its position in the Middle East? Yes. Will the United States have reduced its influence in the world? Yes.”

The difference between presidents like Bush and professionals like Gardiner is the difference between a bully and a fighter. A bully wants to (watch someone else) fight. A fighter knows how to fight when he or she has to, and knows how to determine when he or she has to.