The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Let’s Bomb Iran! -Not

Posted by Bill Nance on March 31, 2009

Well, here we go again…

It seems Elliot “we’ll be greeted as liberators” Abrams has a new target in mind for the use of raw American military power: Iran.

What we are here to discuss is what should be done if and when all that fails. What do we do when one day perhaps not all that far in the future, the Director of National
Intelligence walks in to the Oval Office and tells the president that there is now persuasive evidence that Iran has or is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons?
On that day a lot of things change, questions of the regimeʹs hostility toward America and our allies gain new significance. Today, statements issued by the Iranian regime
calling for Israel to be wiped off the map are disgusting. But we all can be comforted by the fact that the regime cannot follow through on its threats. The world of a nuclear Iran however, will carry with it the possibility of a true Holocaust. Quote, ʺWe have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should
be removed from the region.ʺ Iranʹs supreme leader has said, quote, ʺThereʹs no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israelʺ. Heʹs also said, ʺWe will no longer be able to write off such threats as vile but empty.ʺ

The Iranian regime is currently the largest state sponsor of terror. It has already through its own actions and through its proxies, expanded its influence throughout the Middle East in a serious effort to become the regional henchman. Itʹs responsible for countless deaths in Iraq and it threatens the stability of the entire Middle East.

We must ask ourselves if we are really prepared to live with the Iranian regime possessing nuclear weapons.

So Abrams’ solution is, you guessed, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, Bomb, bomb, Iran.”

There’s a lot of this nonsense floating about and not just among the Neocons.  If you read the rantings of the right wing, they’re all scared to death of the Mad Mullahs™.

I do, however, notice a distinct absence of actual experts on Iran in this equation.  No, it seems most of those, you know, the people who actually speak the language (Farsi), read the newspapers and visit the country don’t seem to be calling for a bombing campaign. -Probably because it’s a stupid idea.

I’ve mentioned the book “The Devil We Know” by former CIA operations agent Robert Baer before on these pages, and it’s a book frankly that every American should read. I say this because Baer, along with some other folks who actually travel to Iran have been shouting from the rooftops for some time now that Iran’s objective is to become a strategic regional power.  Given it’s size, location, natural resources and the heretofore demonstrated savvy of it’s leaders, I don’t think there’s a damn thing anyone can do to stop this over the longer term and it’s probably stupid to try.

It’s quite true the U.S. could, for a time, set back Iran’s nuclear program by a matter of a few years.  But given time, if the regime is dead-set on getting a nuke, there’s little we could do to stop it short of an all-out invasion which would make Iraq on it’s worst day look like a walk in the park.

But what’s Abram’s big fear really? Let’s go down the list:

1. Iran will nuke Israel

This is what happens when you read the Likud Party press and ignore every expert on Iran I’ve ever heard talk on the subject.  Iran is a theocracy certainly. But it’s also been a very rational state actor.  To hit Israel with a nuclear weapon, or even three or four, would only guarantee without a doubt the complete destruction of Iran. Israel is a heavily armed nuclear power with full retaliatory capacity.  It’s called MAD General Abrams, and it kept the U.S., China and the USSR from nuclear conflict for 40 years.  And even if the threat were real, since when is it the job of the U.S. to defend Israel from threats it could deal with itself?  At what point did I miss the vote that made Israel the 51st state?  Let them spend their own blood and treasure if the threat is so dire -and it’s not.

2. Iran will give it’s nukes to a terrorist

Don’t make me laugh. Seriously folks, the idea that a nation state would hand over the crown jewels of its defense program to a terrorist is so patently stupid it doesn’t bear mentioning. You need to stop watching 24 General, it’s Hollywood, not reality.

3. Iran will be unstable and it’s nukes will get loose

So far over the last 30 years the actual power base in Iran has been quite stable. Easily as stable as the Soviet Politburo ever was. Ahmedinejad is a figurehead with little real power. He’s a tool of the Mullahs currently running the Revolutionary Guards, who are but one of the several power bases in Iran. He doesn’t speak for anyone other than as a good PR man for Iran show it’s standing up to the U.S. which is something every country in the region has been looking to do successfully for many years.  Taking his rhetoric seriously is about as stupid as taking Pat Robertson seriously to get a grasp on U.S. policy aims.

4. Iran will become a more powerful regional player and inspire more proliferation in the region

Iran is going to be a bigger player on the regional scene no matter what we do. It’s larger and more populous than any other country in the region (66.5 million) has an abundance of oil and other natural resources, a highly educated workforce and a long history of regional importance. The Mullahs are going to continue to work towards their actual goal, which is replacing Shia Islam as the dominant Middle East variant and possibly (or so they hope) deposing the House of Saud and replacing it with a Shia, or at least a less hostile Sunni regime. It has already asserted virtual puppetry over Syria, a great deal of dominance over Lebanon and massive influence in Iraq thanks to the inept pre-war planning of Abrams Et Al.  We can’t change the face of all that with a few bombs followed with some “good messaging” as Abrams calls it.  This is nationalism and a desire to become a regional power, a national aim since the days of the Shah.

The real threat, and the one Abrams calls correctly in my opinion, is the threat of increased proliferation. But again, I fail to see how a few air strikes will do anything other than postpone that by a few years, perhaps a decade at most. -A decade during which Iran can make things very difficult for the U.S….far more difficult than we can make it for them, and a decade in which new proliferation might arise among our so-called friends, like Saudi Arabia? Are we going to threaten them with bombing too? Something tells me no, and the actual threat of an unstable regime is far, far worse in Saudi Arabia than it is in Iran.

The facts are it’s a crappy situation for the U.S. There are a lot of not very good options and a long-term balance of power in the region looks to favor Iran, no matter what we do. But one thing it would be catastrophic to do would be to bomb them. They can hurt us a lot more and with a lot less effort than we can hurt them. We’re not going to bomb their oilfields…not as long as Germany, France and Japan depend on them.  We’d be left to sanctions (which we can do now) some covert action (which we’re already taking) and a few token air raids on the Revolutionary Guards. Meanwhile, if you bother to look on a map, you’ll notice we’re deeply involved for the foreseeable future in two countries bordering Iran, both with either majority (Iraq) or large minority (Afghanistan) Shia populations who are poor, eager for assistance and can make life very difficult for the U.S.

Abrams should shut the Hell up. He got it so wrong on Iraq, in so many ways, pride alone should keep him silent, not trying to start Iraq part deux.  And the rest of the right-wing nutjobs should shut their yaps as well, especially since in my albeit limited reading of their screeds, hardly a one of these fools even knows what the national language is called, much less anything of significance other than the meaningless rhetoric of a “President” in power only because he licks his masters’ boots well.

-Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

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