Next Target: Iran?

Category: World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq Views: 6164

Will the newly energized President Bush interpret his narrow election win as public approval for his spaghetti Western-style shoot-'em-up foreign policy? Many neo-conservatives outside the Bush administration have made noise about going after Iran. Could the swaggering sheriff be convinced by these pundits to take on the black-hatted mullahs of Iran? Let's hope not; attacking Iran would be a bigger folly than invading Iraq.

The Iranians only got serious about getting a nuclear bomb after a U.S. military presence was established on the ground in the nearby Persian Gulf region prior to the first Gulf War. Even Iran's long, brutal eight-year war with neighboring Iraq during the 1980s was not an impetus toward becoming a nuclear power. 

In fact, it was the U.S. invasion of Iraq that caused the Iranians to accelerate their efforts to build the bomb. The Iranian leadership watched the invasion and harsh treatment of the non-nuclear Iraq by the U.S. and compared that to the more respectful U.S. negotiations with North Korea, which likely already has nuclear weapons. If you were Iran, what would you do? Certainly, given the possibility of a U.S. invasion, many other so-called "rogue nations" with inclinations to develop such weapons may do exactly what the Iranians have done.

Although the Bush administration probably has difficulty empathizing with an autocratic, fundamentalist Islamic regime, it should consider that Iran might feel threatened by the cordon the U.S. had created around Iran's borders. The United States has a significant military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, new military bases in Central Asian nations, and a formal alliance with Turkey. In the wider region, the U.S. also has informal security relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf kingdoms. Asked what he learned from the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Indian Chief of Staff replied, "don't fight the United States without nuclear weapons." Similarly, the Iranians have obviously learned that the only way to ensure that the United States doesn't invade Iran is to develop the ultimate deterrent.

But neo-conservatives inside and outside of the administration might ask: why not launch an Iraq-style preventative attack before the Iranians can get these weapons? The answer is that according to U.S. military planners, nuclear facilities are now hard to find and target from the air. During Operation Desert Fox in 1998-an air campaign designed to cripple Iraq's capability to produce nuclear weapons-it became apparent that the United States had no idea where such Iraqi weapons facilities were located (later the Bush administration found out the hard way that they didn't have any). The Iranians have learned from Israel's successful surprise attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981. They have hidden, hardened, buried or placed their nuclear facilities in heavily populated areas. For this reason, according to the New York Times, U.S. military planners admit that the Iranian nuclear program is best dealt with by diplomacy rather than by military force.

The only way to find and eliminate Iranian nuclear weapons using military action would be to launch a full-scale invasion of Iran. If the Bush administration even began to contemplate this course of action, however, the U.S. military would probably be near open revolt. Invading Iran would likely make the bloody quagmire in Iraq look like a picnic. Iran has nearly four times the territory and three times the population of Iraq. Also, Iran's terrain is much more mountainous than Iraq's and even more ideal for guerrilla warfare. Any U.S. invasion would quickly change the youthful Iranian population from opponents of the governing mullahs to supporters of their efforts to fight off an invading foreign superpower. Rather than facing armed resistance from one faction of the population-as in Iraq-the U.S. military would likely face zealous opposition from the entire population. Finally, the already overstretched U.S. military has too few forces to pacify Iraq, let alone invade Iran simultaneously. The U.S. military and even the Republican Congress would probably be squeamish about invading yet another country while battling a guerrilla insurgency in one of the invasion's likely launching pads. 

With no viable military options, even the aggressive Bush administration will probably be forced to give peace a chance. If the United States can negotiate with the erratic Kim Jong Il in North Korea, it can certainly do so with the authoritarian mullahs in Iran. The secret in both sets of negotiations might be to recognize that these "rogue states" might be genuinely frightened of a U.S. invasion and willing to accept a non-aggression pact with the United States in exchange for a verified elimination of their nuclear weapons. If that doesn't work, the United States may just have to live with unfriendly nations having nuclear weapons. The U.S. allowed the Soviet Union to obtain nuclear weapons in the 1940s and radical Maoist China to get them in the 1960s. No matter how quirky or radical a nation's leaders, if a government has a home address that can be incinerated by the most capable nuclear arsenal on the planet, that government can be deterred from attacking the United States.

Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq
Views: 6164

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Older Comments:
I thing the US will attack all countires even if thay do not having wapon of mass destrution. Becoz I thing bush is in the bush and geting cragy.

It would be absolutely impossible to convince enough US soldiers not to mention congress and most republicans that invading Iran makes and sense at all.

The bush administration willfully misled the world concerning Iraq. Consequently, no argument to invade Iran would make sense to anyone.

Above and beyond that America has a moral and strategically task to over come if it were to consider such an invasion.

Would it be funny if America devoted the same amount of energy making peace around the world as it does attempting to flex it military might making more and more enemies?

America has learned to live with poverty after we declared war against it forty years ago, learned to live with a drug infested society after declaring war against it, learned to live with AIDS since no cure has come,learned to live with a communist Vietnam after killing over 2 million of its population.

America will also live with nuclear powered mullahs.

Aghai Alireza Sefati proves my point. No Persian worth his salt will accept that land being invaded by foreigners. One reason MKO fell out of grace is that they embraced Saddam, the enemy who started the war against Iran.

None of us will accept that land to be bombarded with DU bombs and left with generations of birth defects as a result. Afghanistan and Iraq are clear examples.

Those .. know no boundary and will wage their aggression on anyone unless they are as powerfull as themselves. Otherwise they will attack only the weak. One has to see their history of cowardice. they choose the weak because they can and no other country will oppose them. It stands to reason for Iran to aquire nukes if only for deterrence. Just as we discus this issue, nearly a quarter million people have been turned into refugees in Fallujah with their homes bombed and relatives killed. No one cares? Who gives them shelter? The Americans did this during the month of Ramadhan and until today that city is a wastland riddled with disease and death. Do we want Iranian cities to be turned likewise?

Arab governments are useless and we have not seen any opposition from them or anyone else, including UN. Only Iran stands tall and may God back them to stand up against tyranny and injustice that the aggressors have planned.

They can plan, but Allah is the best of planners.

I'm not too crazy about the Iranians getting nuclear weapons; but a military attack on Iran would be a total disaster. Many Americans, emboldened by our ventures into Afghanistan and Iraq, may like the idea of attacking Iran, not just because of nukes, but also as payback for all the bad blood since the embassy seizure in 1979. But I have to tell them and everyone else: military action would be a complete disaster. There is no way we could win unless we had total commitment, it would be a world war, something apocalyptic in scope. The amount of suffering that would ensue would be horror beyond counting, and it is completely unneccesary.
It must not happen. But don't worry, I don't think that it will happen, Inshallah. Believe it or not, the people in charge of the US military aren't fools, they know all this, and wouldn't do anyting while we're bogged down in Iraq.I think that Syria is in much greater danger of invasion than Iran; but again, I don't think it'll happen. Its dictator wants to stay in power, I'm sure he'll do what the US requires.
What a mess. I pray to Allah that we can find our way to a better world. Personally, I like the idea of a United States of Islam to balance out power better with the other world powers: the US, Europe, Russia, China and India. What do you think?

Believe it or not the muslim countries are target one by one, by means of invasion / war / sanctions / puppet governments / insatability:
Afghanistan > Iraq > Iran > Pakistan > Saudi Arabia > Syria > and so on.
Many muslims dream of that few countries will be spared. DREAM ON.


Well I am an Iranian and the author did make some mistakes. He assumed that Iran has the weapons and has been trying to make nuclear weapons. No evidence has ever been there to suppor this. But I agree with the fact that Iran's anti government people COULD grab arms and fight US. Becasue they simply want a change of regime without blookshed and without direct foreigh intervention.
As an Iranian living in US, I am very much against Iranian regime but would never support the war and I would really consider going back to Iran and fighting alone with my fellow Iranian people to defend Iran.

Iran will make nuclear weapon and no one can stop them from doing that, it will be the second Islam country to have nuclear weapon.

thank you and god bless Iran.

I met an elderly Iranian gentleman in exile, running away from the regime of the mullahs of Iran. He told me if America invaded Iran, he would be the first to go back and hold arm to fight the invading Americans. As part Persian (not Iranian), I must admit, I shared his feelings.

The question of mullahs is an iranian issue and must be left to Iranians to resolve. America has no place in Iran. It is actually the Zionist government of Israel who want America to attack Iran, jsut as Bolton adn his clan bow at the alter of neocon-Zionists. Sharon has made it very clear that after Iraq, he wants the next 'American bullet' to be aimed at Iran.

Poor Americans, they must sacrifice their lives at the alter of the Zionist temple, whilst they preach Christ's love. Such is the power of the Zionist-controlled media. It has blinded them to geography and culture of others that the writer has to remind them of geo-demographic size of Iran! let alone the fiercely nationalistic fervour of the Persians who were once the imperialistic rulers themselves.

Every young and old, male and female will be turned into a fighter and don't let those Iranians-turned-Californians convince you otherwise!