Skip to comments.We should be very worried about Iran [John Keegan]
Posted on 01/11/2006 8:36:28 PM PST by aculeus
I supported the Iraq war as, with reservations, I still do. Its opponents have a great deal of self-justification to do, all the more as the details of Saddam Hussein's iniquities unfold in the Baghdad courtroom where he is being tried.
A true Machiavellian would use the trial to argue, however, that the West's mistake was to make an enemy of Saddam when he could have been a useful ally. Indeed, during the 1980s, when he was fighting a war almost to the death against Iran, he was a useful ally. How useful, at this time when Iran has blatantly announced its resumption of its nuclear weapons programme, is becoming apparent.
Saddam merely pretended to have weapons of mass destruction, largely to feed his own fantasies of power. Iran is actually turning itself into a nuclear weapons state, a fact disputed by none of the players on the international scene. Iran, moreover, does not seek such weapons for psychological reasons. It wants them for practical purposes, including, according to a statement by its new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former revolutionary guard, to "wipe Israel from the map". Islamic extremists are, of course, given to blood-curdling rhetoric. Nevertheless, Iran's record must cause not only the West but all Iran's neighbours to take the threat seriously.
Fortunately, Iran's opponents still have a little time in hand. It has not yet developed a nuclear weapon. At present, it is proceeding with the necessary preliminaries, particularly the enrichment of nuclear fuels to weapons grade. Nevertheless, informed opinion is that, within three years, Iran will have acquired a nuclear capability, a prospect undesirable and terrifying in the extreme. How can Teheran be stopped?
The current policy of the United States, and the EU3 group, Britain, France and Germany, is to report Iran to the Security Council, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN agency responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet neither the IAEA nor the Security Council has the power to enforce the NPT. That depends on the will and capability of UN member states. It demonstrates the weakness of the Security Council that the failure so far to report Iran is due to an international reluctance to offend Russia, which is Iran's most important international supporter. It is necessary to abandon such hesitation very promptly. Diplomatic sensitivity is a minor consideration when the aggressive tendencies of Iran's ayatollahs are driving its nuclear policies.
The pressing question is, indeed, what is to be done when a report to the Security Council fails to bring Iran to desist from nuclear enrichment? Economic and other sanctions are widely cited as a means to restrain Iran; and it is certainly true that the interruption of trade and the supply of technical equipment would cause its government serious inconvenience.
It is much more doubtful whether sanctions would make Iran change its policy. The ayatollahs do not suppose they are popular abroad, nor do they much care. Sanctions would interfere with the Western lifestyle of Iran's educated young people. The ayatollahs, however, have little interest in supporting that lifestyle, indeed, rather the opposite, while Iran's educated youth have given heavy proofs that their national pride weighs heavier than their access to Western luxuries.
America and the EU3 must therefore consider other, harsher methods to restrain Iran. The fact that the United States at present deploys a large army in Iraq is a factor that must give the ayatollahs pause. To stage a second war in the Middle East would not be a desirable initiative at present for America and would certainly be highly unpopular at home and among its allies. Moreover, Iran, as the possessor of the second largest oil reserves in the world and occupier of a strategic position athwart the sea routes delivering oil to most of the consuming world, has its own means of retaliation ready to hand.
Which brings us, as always in the geopolitics of the Middle East, to Israel. Israel makes no attempt to conceal that it has considered and undoubtedly is now considering its ability to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities by military action. However, what it did easily against Iraq in 1981 is much more difficult against Iran. For one thing, its current domestic politics may rob it of the necessary power of decision. For another, Iran's nuclear installations are much farther away than Iraq's were when Israel destroyed the Osirak reactor.
Nevertheless, the West cannot simply let things drift. Military action by whatever agency cannot be written out, but will be a last resort. In the meantime, all means short of military action, including economic and political ostracism and economic sanctions, must be tried, together with the building of alternative oil pipelines to bypass the current routes of oil supply down the Gulf. And, of course, the intensification of anti-terrorist measures.
For if the West is considering military action, so are the ayatollahs. They are the sponsors of much of the insurgency in Iraq and suppliers of the insurgents' weapons. They also have intimate links with most of the world's worst terrorist organisations, including al-Qa'eda and Hezbollah. Iranians may well be the missing link for which MI5 is searching behind the July 7 bombings in London.
Moreover, while Iran has its own armoury of medium-range missiles suitable for nuclear delivery, the ayatollahs are also known to favour the placing of nuclear warheads in target cities by terrorists travelling by car or public transport. This is a bad and worrying time in world affairs.
© Copyright of Telegraph
Whatever it takes to stop the lunatic Mullahs from nuking others, whatever it takes.
Oil is gonna be a very serious problem in the near future. I think I'll go ahead now and fill up my 'hurricane' fuel tanks.
Of course, you're right to be concerned about oil: the Iranians have already signaled that they would cut off oil to Europe if they are "sanctioned". Before possible UN or Western sanctions begin to "bite", the Iranians will seek some way to remind the world that they were "heavy into" suicide bombing before Al Qaeda was a gleam in Osama's eye (the truth is, America and the West have largely forgotten what we never officially acknowledged: that the Marine barracks in Lebanon, Lockerbie and the Khobar Towers were, in all likelihood, Iranian sponsored operations). Potential targets of Iranian terror include: US and Coalition forces in Iraq (not just the logistical support they're already providing to Iraqi/foreign terrorists, but the unleashing the Iranian "suicide volunteers" official Iranian media has trumpeted); Saudi and Iraqi oilfields, pipeline and port facilities; and US and European interests in the Middle East. That's just for starters, when US, Coalition, and/or Israeli bombs start falling, the serious Iranian "revenge" operations will begin.
If they get too fancy with revenge here in the states, the attacks will stop rather suddely about 1/2 hour later when the first MIRV hits Tehran...
John Keegan is a very sensible author (and a lovely man -- I once got to meet him and shake his hand) who has studied the history of warfare through the ages. (His MASK OF COMMAND is a must-read.) If he's worried, I'm worried too.
I rather hope the Israelis will take matters into their own hands and deal with this. I think the other Arab states are fragmented enough that they would mutter, but would not actually do anything on behalf of their brother Arabs. (Well, okay, I guess Iranians are technically Persian, not Arab, but in any case, non-Jewish.) I just hope we are not forced into having to take military action ourselves. Starting a war in Iran would really torpedo any US administration that had to do that.
(SARC) Come on, everyone knows that George Bush is a bigger threat than Iran (/SARC)
Why, when everyone on earth knows the outcome? Why are we giving them time? Why are we telegraphing when we might get around to hitting them? How stupid are we, really?
You send an armored corps to Teheran, depose the government, set up a new one. Perfectly doable. All the crap about it being unpopular, who cares? The constitution is not a suicide pact.
The window of opportunity for Iran is beginning to close. Once nuclear weapons are in their hands they could be hidden away and, the clock starts on when they will use them. One nuke would be all it takes to wipe out Israel. A nuke in any major city of a country would cause a complete economic collapse. Once Iran has these nuclear weapons, there would be too easy to hide and no way to take them out. You would have to strike Iran before they could use them.
The worse part of this is that such weapons could be quietly smuggled into their targets in pieces and reassembled. When they were set off, you may not be able to prove which country they were from. Thus, you would have no basis to retaliate against Iran. Iran could keep pumping out these nukes without anyone able to do anything. This is exactly what we feared that Saddam would do in Iraq.
The point made in Keegan's last 'graph, which I quoted in comment $1.
When they were set off, you may not be able to prove which country they were from.
We need a new Bush Doctrine. Any nuclear attack on the USA will be met with massive US retaliation on every nuclear-armed states that we consider to be a possible perp.
(Another reason never to place lawyers in the White House.)
I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I've read all his books and thought ID'ing him in the article title would have elicited more responses than it has.
That may explain why one open source reports mentions 5,000 potential targets in Iran in the event of hostilities. Hit a wide spectrum of targets hard, not just the suspected nuke sites, but all of their immediate "retaliatory" capability, and the Ayatollahs and Mullahs might get the message. But you'd better implement civilian defense and military "force protection" measures at home and abroad, 'cause these Kamikaze Islamists are crazy enough to do anything.