On to Iran

Philip Sherwell of The Telegraph reports that the Pentagon is planning a military blitz of Iran.

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran’s nuclear sites as a “last resort” to block Teheran’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt. …

… “This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment,” said a senior Pentagon adviser. “This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months.”

The Telegraph also provides a brief history of Iran’s nuclear program, here.

You all remember the “axis of evil” line from the 2002 SOTU speech, I’m sure. The “axis” of dangerous nations was North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Of the three, Iraq was the weakest and least dangerous; naturally, we squandered our military and spoiled diplomatic resources by invading Iraq, leaving the problems in Iran and North Korea to fester.

(For an account of Bush’s serial screwups regarding North Korea see “Blame Bush for North Korea’s Nukes.” Note that you have to scroll past a bunch of junk after the February 10 post to read the rest of it. I don’t have any way to edit the junk out, sorry.)

James Fallows, whose articles on Iraq for the Atlantic Monthly are indispensable reading, wrote in December 2004:

The decisions that a President will have to make about Iran are like those that involve Iraq—but harder. A regime at odds with the United States, and suspected of encouraging Islamic terrorists, is believed to be developing very destructive weapons. In Iran’s case, however, the governmental hostility to the United States is longer-standing (the United States implicitly backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s), the ties to terrorist groups are clearer, and the evidence of an ongoing nuclear-weapons program is stronger. Iran is bigger, more powerful, and richer than Iraq, and it enjoys more international legitimacy than Iraq ever did under Saddam Hussein. The motives and goals of Iran’s mullah government have been even harder for U.S. intelligence agencies to understand and predict than Saddam Hussein’s were.

And, most critically, the Shiite clerics in charge of Iraq have developed close ties to the majority Shiite government in Iraq. Indeed, there is a very real danger that Iraq is becoming a puppet of Iran, in spite of Bushie attempts to make it a puppet of the U.S. It is likely a U.S. strike on Iran would set the Iraqi insurgency on fire; even the U.S.-powered Iraqi government would turn against the U.S.

Further, unlike Iraq, Iran really does have weapons of mass destruction. Fallows wrote that “the Iranian regime would conclude that America was bent on its destruction, and it would have no reason to hold back on any tool of retaliation it could find.” Among other near certainties, Israel would be drawn into all-out war before you could say “ayatollah.” Also,

Unlike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests. Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States. It could work with other oil producers to punish America economically. It could, as Hammes warned, apply the logic of “asymmetric,” or “fourth-generation,” warfare, in which a superficially weak adversary avoids a direct challenge to U.S. military power and instead strikes the most vulnerable points in American civilian society, as al-Qaeda did on 9/11. If it thought that the U.S. goal was to install a wholly new regime rather than to change the current regime’s behavior, it would have no incentive for restraint.

And the Pessimist at The Left Coaster warns that other nations — notably China and Russia — are making noises about siding with Iran against us.

In other words, a strike on Iran carries terrible risks, much greater risks than did a strike on Iraq. And we know how that turned out.

There is a possibility that the Pentagon is just saber-rattling to encourage Iran to be more compliant with IAEA weapons inspectors and with the UN Security Council. That would be a sensible thing to do. But the Bushies hate the UN Security Council, and they hate the IAEA even more. You’ll remember that in the buildup to the Iraq invasion, IAEA president Mohamed ElBaradei was telling everyone who would listen that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons capability; was not even close. And he was right. Thus did ElBaradei become Public Enemy #2 to the Bushies, behind Saddam Hussein himself. They hated him so much they had the NSA tap his phone to find evidence against him, as part of an effort to have him replaced at IAEA. As evidence of the high regard in which the Bushies are held, the rest of the world supported ElBaradei, who last year was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Bushies, for whom every frustration becomes a personal vendetta, would pot-roast their own babies before they’d do anything to help the IAEA and ElBaradei.

On the other hand, Karl may figure he could use Iran to do to the 2006 elections what he accomplished with Iraq in the 2002 elections. The Republican Noise machine will spew out visions of mushroom clouds hovering over American cities, and the Dems will fail to put up a cohesive challenge. Hmmm. Sounds like a plan.

World War III, anyone?

26 thoughts on “On to Iran

  1. Problem is that when it comes to Middle East policy this Administration does not act according to logic. The whole world pleaded with Bush not to invade Iraq…and he simply told them to fuck off. As we say in psychology, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

  2. This thing gets to looking like two interlocked pretzels. Good job of untwisting, maha. Iraq is in the process of setting Ibrahim al Jaffari as their returning leader. He has far closer ties with Iran than the guy he narrowly defeated, al Mahdi. And I like your nonfearful “take” on this that it may just be saber rattling for effect. In my post this morning I explore the fear-based decision making that seems to characterize the current administration, if y’all will excuse my blog promotion.

  3. So Maha, what steps do you recommend Bush take to prevent the calamity that would result from Iran getting the bomb?

  4. The goal of the Bush administration is to assist in implementing the dreams of a Greater Israel and that is for control of the oil resources in the Middle East. Anyone who denies the influence that Israel and the Israeli first NGO’s have on both the Republicans and Democrat parties is either totaly ignorant of a liar. Why has it been possible for Israel to ignore any UN resolution but when it came to Iraq, we went to war. Israel sits on more then 300 nukes and with the delivery systems to take out any city in the Middle East. They will attack whenever they want with the same impunity as they did with the blatant slaughter of our own US Navy personal aboard the USS Liberty in 1967. The problem lies in the cowardice of our politicans and appointed officials that have been so intimidated into silence for telling the truth when it comes to Israel for fear of being labled an anti-semite. An attack on Iran will be the catalyst which will bring about such a disaster and of magnitude that it would change the future of planet earth forever. I do believe that unless some as yet unknown and incredible power of persuasion intervenes, this manipulated administration will do the unthinkable. The secret reason for doing this is the presumed fear that now and only now is the time to take action before China positions themselves in Iran to where any action would be impossible. Thanks to the pro-Israel stance and advice of the pro-Israel advisors, our government has now alienated the entire Muslim population and will add China as well with the fight over who controls the Middle East oil…..of course this is just my opinion

  5. prevent the calamity that would result from Iran getting the bomb

    The “steps” would have started in January 2001, and they would have involved sensible and rational diplomatic and economic policies. Too late for that. The Bushie policy in Iran has consisted of alternately ignoring Iran and then pissing off Iran with provocative rhetoric (e.g., the “axis of evil” remark).

    Another step would have been not invading Iraq and not so depleting our military resources that our saber rattling no longer has the effect it used to have. And, frankly, as nasty as he was, having the anti-Iranian Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq might have been preferable in some ways to having a pro-Iranian Shiite regime in charge of Iraq right now. I know that’s heresy, but facts is facts.

    I’m not saying Iran isn’t dangerous. I explicitly said it IS dangerous. I’m saying there are no good options, and that acting could be just as disasterous as not-acting. Possibly more so.

  6. The incredibly frightening part of this whole thing is that Bush thinks has been appointed by God to bring about the destruction of the world, as does the President of Iran. And nothing is going to get in their way. I see no difference between them and Jim Jones. People are sitting in mental institutions for killing others on “God’s orders,” for crying out loud!!!

    There is no way to stop a mentally deranged person other than to restrain him and get him out of power, along with the rest of the administration.

  7. Why has it been possible for Israel to ignore any UN resolution but when it came to Iraq, we went to war.

    My impression is that ignoring UN resolutions is about as common as farting in public. Everybody does it; nobody admits it. I’d be surprised if the US isn’t afoul of some resolutions, too. The whole “we have to attack because they ignored UN resolutions” argument was SOOOO phony, especially since the UN didn’t approve of the invasion.

    Also: I also don’t like to blame Israel for everything; U.S. foreign policy is plenty stupid all by itself. Certainly there are elements within the U.S. government intent on using U.S. power to support Israel’s policies, even when those policies are not necessarily in America’s interest, but Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself. It’s not a clear black-and-white issue.

  8. I’ve been following this for several weeks on my blog. The posts are all “Iran Next” and there are 5 of them. All signs point to inevitable invasion of Iran. I wish we could stop it, but there probably isn’t enough time left.

    Jesus, 3 more years of this idiot!

  9. The deal with Iraq , KNOWN to have been “weak”, was a SHOCK and AWE SHOWTIME , that was meant to intimadate OTHERS into not to mess with US..that was INDEED part of the charade..Other contingencies were indeed that the Saudis, aware natives like Osama, disgruntled over “western” feet on their sacre soil, had conferred and the US was put on notice their feet were to be for the greater part “removed” in a move to appease those stirring things up against the Roayl Rulers in Saudi..Needing a good “footprint” SOMEWHERE there in ME sector…Iraq was deemed more than adequate as it also provided the second largest OIL supply for access and “controlling”…Iran was always THE bigger problem…and think how delighted they are indeed that one of their old nemesis was taken out by ANOTHER of their old nemesises and that nemesis has gotten QUAGMIRED and used up their valuable resources and LOST CREDIBILITY and PRESTIGE and has been shown NOT ALL THAT TRULY POWERFUL OR ABLE TO CONTROL AT WHIM….Even Afghanistan was NOT what was presented folks. In the SPring of 2001, negotiations for a PIPELINE were not going well with the Taliban rejecting and NOT wanting ANY western feet on THEIR sacred ground..They were given an ultimatim..” CAPRET OF GOLD OR CARPET OF BOMS”..Well, the Taliban “hurumphed”, turned to Osama for “protection” (they too had even OFFERED UP OSAMA TO THE BUSH FOLKS, that was rejected cuz the PIPELINE was the big “WANT..) Well, guess what as we have seen, Afghanistan did indeed get a carpet of bombs and the PIPELINE was secured,installed and FEW even realize just what the truer hit to Afghanistan was indeed all about. A btw too…Afghanistan is NOT quite the “success” that so many like to pretend either, and it certainly never produced the supposed results…that of curtailing Osama and his mighty band of terrorists who have rather proliferated rather than diminshed all around the world making ALL far less secure than EVER!!!!!

  10. Seeing how it’s heresy sunday….The war on terror is an absolute joke.!

    Bush has succeeded in getting the American people to chase rainbows. My life experience has taught me that the two most debilitating emotions are fear and insecurity. Bush has cultivated those emotions in the American people to a near art form in order to hold us captive to irrational fears, and increase our insecurities..

    Here’s some other heresies:

    Our troops that are killed in Iraq have died in vain.
    Freedom isn’t on the march!

    We’ve lost the war in Iraq, which is a good thing…. evil did not triumph.

    The Iranians have every right to develope a nuclear capacity…by what authority does the United States claim the power to tell the Iranian people what they can or cannot do?

    Bush is a jerk!

  11. Kudos to you Swami for bypassing filters of fear and insecurity which makes you able to see and state some raw truth.

    Most Americans do not have the strength to let themselves admit the weaknesses of our own nation [which admission allows self-correction]; rather they think strength resides in bravado posturing.

    Balance is elegant when it is based in truth and exhausting [and ultimately self-defeating] when it is sought through compensatory straining.

  12. A semi LOL, of course the US too has broken UN resolutions and treaties and other foreign affair agreements…Hey, we even had US corps in that ever whined about Oil for Food program that took full advantage and thensome but got downplayed as well. Agree there is large influence towards Israel needs…and the present administration was indeed overrun with those that held posts holding Israli interests uppermost i their influence peddling of this admnistrations policies and play outs. True too should be Israels right to exist but the way ALL are going about all this NONE OF ANY OF US will exist as things keep on excalating and we are REALLY stuck with the master blunderers!!!
    How is there so non existent any accountability with this administration…do we have ZIP capable anywhere in position to handle these messes ? Can think of NONE capable , no matter the party affiliation and THAT IS TRULY SCAREY!!!

  13. Interesting Sunday morning reading….
    There has been quite a bit of internet “Chatter” regarding a possible Anglo/American attack on Iran before the oil Bourse is fully formed in March.Will the U.K participate, or will Blairs’ people rise up and throw him out?
    An unprovolked attack on Iran, especially an attack utilizing mini nuke “bunker Busters” could have consequences far beyond what many can imagine. Iran is far larger than Iraq, its’ population is about 65 million. Irans’ military has not been degraded by a decade of war and sanctions, Iran is not locked in combat with 2 other nations, nor is Iran policing numerous other countries as the U.S. is.I shudder to think exactly what a U.S. attack would bring, but I believe it is safe to say that the Strait of Hormuz would be heavily impacted, sending petroleum prices beyond imagination.. I believe such an attack would have severe ripple effects globally, impacting all the OPEC nations, and creating alliances between the former Soviet Asian republics, China, India, Pakistan,Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand,Russia, and the Muslim nations of Africa.If Israel acts alone or participates in the attack, they will have placed themselves in unimaginable peril., most of the world hates Israel, and the popularity of Israel in the U.S. is dropping due to the AIPAC spy scandal and the Abramoff escapade.An unprovolked attack on Iran could have enormous impacts in Europe in many ways, and further alienate the U.S.
    I don’t think the nations of the Earth will take kindly the radioactive fallout caused by such an attack, and they will no doubt take action against us via economic warfare at the least.
    An attack on Iran may prompt a military draft, stop loss of current military personel, suspense of the Constitution, and things unimaginable to Americans.
    Asian countries are financing the war in Iraq, they may decide to dump the dollar.So long everyday low prices, cheap tools,rediculous real estate prices, and Bratz Dolls.Say hello to double digit interest rates and massive unemployment.
    South America continues to cast a wary eye on Washington.While the Chinese are building economic alliances in South America and the Caribbean, the U.S. continues a policy of threats, slander, and intimidation.
    The headlines for the past several weeks have focused on Chavez of Venezuela, Castro, the riots in the Muslim world, and a deteriorating tolerance of Muslims in Europe.Several days ago, C-Span aired a presentation regarding Peak oil at the U.S. house of reps.I believe these headlines are setting the stage for the attack on Iran, I hope I’m wrong.
    If Bush launches such an attack, I wonder if the military will be compliant. Would there be an uproar in Congress? What happens if Iran decides to launch an all-out attack on our troops in Iraq? I have seen reports about the supersonic “Sunburn” missiles Iran has purchased from Russia. If the reports are true, these missiles travel at many times the speed of sound, are unstoppable, and have deadly accuracy. They can be fitted with chemical, nuclear, or conventional warheads.A conventional missile attack on our ground based troops or naval vessels with sunburn missiles could be devastating.
    If Congress fails in their duty again, they will have breached the Constitutuion twice. Those in the military are sworn to defend the Constitution from ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.Our military IS NOT the presidents’ private hit sqad, and Bush is NOT the commander-in-chief of the U.S., he is the commander of the military ONLY! Congress should remind him of this, or face replacement in the mid term elections.
    This could end in a stirring rendition of Bush/Cheney singing “You and Me against the world”. This could be a real mess.We live in “Interesting times”.

  14. Oh, I forgot: (due to my long winded post) to subdue Iran, simply get them into the mainstream! Crap, will we never forget the hostage crisis? We are trading with Vietnam, where we lost 60,000 men and killed a million or so of their people, we are best buddies with China, a communist country with nukes pointed at US, a country that aided the other side in the Korean and Vietnam wars! China and Russia have no problem trading with Iran, but Iran and Israel are mortal enemies. Is this the reason we continue to demonize and intimidate Iran? To solve the problem of terrorism, loose nukes, and all the various ans sundry bullshit which puts our entire planet on the brink of a nuclear disaster and generational war, the key is in the Israeli-Palistine genocide. They both want the other dead.I told my wife 30 years ago that Israel will be the catylist for world war 3, and here we are. What is the answer? And just in case anyone wants to call me an anti-semite, forgetaboutit! This ain’t a jew vs arab/Muslim/Persian thingy, it’s about survival of our species VS religious fanaticism, end of friggin’ story.

  15. Pingback: The American Street » Blog Archive » Failure Guaranteed

  16. Bush can’t do shit about the Iranians other than roar as a toothless tiger..he’s spent all his capital in Iraq. He can’t invade. All he can do is launch strikes against the sites he believes that are being used to develop Irans nuclear program. The consequences of such a strike would have a devestating effect on America by isolating us as a rogue state in world affairs. I hope Bush does attack Iran..The current administration needs to be humbled by another disaster and then maybe the arrogant Americans who think God gives them the right to dictate to others what their values should be will reconsider their arrogance.

    I’m no military expert as compared to Donny Rumsfeld, but I would assume from what I’ve read about the invasion of Iraq that it would take over a million men to invade and securely hold the country of Iran. And it would probably only cost us 10 billion dollars, which we could pay from the oil revenues of Iran. It’s a slam dunk cake walk…let’s roll.

  17. “…..I’m not saying Iran isn’t dangerous. I explicitly said it IS dangerous. I’m saying there are no good options, and that acting could be just as disasterous as not-acting. Possibly more so.”

    Maha, you explicitly avoided answering my simple question. I did not request a rehash of what you think Bush did wrong. With your customary 20-20 hindsight I know you can go on indefinitely on that topic. I simply asked what steps should we take NOW to prevent the calamity of Iran getting the Bomb?

  18. Maha, you explicitly avoided answering my simple question.

    Exactly what part of THERE ARE NO GOOD OPTIONS that you didn’t get?

    I simply asked what steps should we take NOW to prevent the calamity of Iran getting the Bomb?

    And I said THERE ARE NO GOOD OPTIONS. Translation for the cognitively impaired (you): THERE IS NOTHING NOW THAT CAN BE DONE. The Bushies’ military blitz would merely postpone it, if that, and cause worse problems as side effects.

  19. Ariel…..you have asked twice about steps to take NOW to prevent the calamity of Iran getting the Bomb.

    The very first step, IMHO, is to examine the assumption in your question.

    Assumption; Iran having the the Bomb would be a calamity.
    Just to play devil’s advocate a bit here…….please explain to me what it is about Iran [say compared to other iffy nuclear powers like Pakistan, Russia, China] that contraindicate Iran’s possession of nuclear weaponry. I hope your explanation can go beyond the instance of the neo-con-chorus-spokesman Bush putting Iran into a categorical ‘axis of evil’.

    Does your explanation includes the fact that Iran and the United States are at odds now and have long been historically avowed enemies? If so, then consider the following:
    1] take an imaginary trip into outer space and look back at the world, seeing just the geography, if you will. This overview may just put you into a frame of mind to yearn for world peace. You may find that a positive yearning arrives as different possibilities for ‘steps to take’ than does a fear motivation.
    2] Now take a research trip through the last 100 years of world history. Please take notes on all the instances of world powers who were once at odds with one another changing their ‘enemy’ relationships into ‘cooperative’ relationships.
    3] collect and analyse the steps taken in those historical instances…..maybe you could report them to us.


  20. Ariel, who gives a fly’in fudgesicle if Iran gets “the bomb”?
    India, Pakistan, Israel, The U.K., France ,China,Russia, all have one. To use one is a death sentence , to have one has become an insurance policy and a status symbol.N.Korea has proved this.
    This is the truth.Like it or not(and I do not!)
    Regard the following: Russia and Iran have a healthy relationship IN SPITE OF THE CHECHEN TERRORISTS! WHY?
    Because Chechenya is not Iran!
    The sad reality is the Muslim states have the great misfortune of sitting on the worlds’ oil reserves. From Grozny to Tehran, to Kirkuk, to Darfur, it’s all about oil! even the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese was about oil (plus, the roof of the world launch pad deal).
    The War in the Balkans was about pipeline transit routes, the “ethnic cleansing” was the excuse. Nato bombed the hell out of Belgrade, and no one cared because of the evil Slobodan…There is now a very wicked “Mafia “trafficing in drugs ,weapons, and slaves operating in the Balkans.The power vacuum was filled by organized crime.

  21. Totally incredible that we [America] are the only country to have Nuked someone and are worried about the self preservation rights of Iran to exist when faced with total annihilation by Israel and with Americas complicity. This is truly an [Alice in wonderland world we now live in] I think we should nuke Israel to dust and make the Arab world so damn happy that we get free oil for the next ten years…….works for me

  22. So..how much are u willing to pay for a gal of go-go juice before you say……what the hell am I doing to myself? Strange that we initiated the Japanese attack on Hawaii for oil as well…hmmm what goes around comes around. Will humans ever learn to get along or continue to follow the path of greed to satisify their lust for need?

  23. Swami…I am glad you provided that link above [#22] to ‘powerofnarrative’.
    Arthur Silber at that site is such a good wise read…..I spent lots of time there, athirstily absorbing his perspective.

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