Opinion Brief

Iran downs a U.S. drone: Is 'all-out war' next?

Tehran claims to have taken out a top-secret spy plane, potentially bringing a showdown over Iran's nuclear program closer

Over the weekend, as Iran claimed to have shot down one of the U.S. military's RQ-170 stealth drones, Washington confirmed that an unmanned drone had indeed vanished on a mission in Afghanistan near the Iranian border. The incident — a very serious one if it put sensitive technology in Iran's hands — will surely only increase tensions between Iran and the West, which is imposing sanctions and possibly sabotaging Iranian military sites to get Tehran to end its apparent quest for nuclear weapons. Is the drone downing a sign that "all-out war" with Iran is inevitable?

Yes. The covert war could escalate: The United States, in cooperation with Israel, is not merely headed for war with Iran, says Michael Hirsh at National Journal. The shooting has already begun. This weekend's events — the alleged drone downing and a bombing near the British embassy in Bahrain — were just the latest proof that the West is "engaged in a covert war against Iran's nuclear program," and that Iran "is retaliating with greater intensity than ever." Let's face it: "It's entirely possible the covert war could escalate into a real one.""Has the war with Iran already begun?"

No. The world doesn't want war: "Despite the uptick in signs of escalation," says Tony Karon at TIME, "the standoff over Iran's nuclear program is stuck in business-as-usual mode." Yes, the U.S., Israel, and their closest Western allies see Tehran's dreams of building an atomic bomb as "an urgent strategic security threat," but the rest of the world doesn't even want to tighten sanctions. "Expect the drumbeat of war to continue, for now" — but I'd be surprised if we heard "a crescendo anytime soon.""Despite downed U.S. drone claims, Iran war talk may be overblown"

We'll know soon enough: "It appears Iran plans to retaliate," says Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge. Its military has already threatened to respond to what it calls a provocative violation of its airspace. The USS John C. Stennis super-carrier is already within shooting range in the Arabian Sea. Nobody knows for sure what will happen next, but it "looks like life for the Stennis boys is about to get exciting.""Iran military shoots down U.S. drone, threatens response"

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