Did anyone actually read the study, released to RawStory.com, that lends legitimacy to the idea that Bush can take out Iran's nuclear capability with massive air attacks? It was like something out of Dr. Strangelove. It also fits seamlessly into the fabric of White House rhetoric and takes neocon ideology to its inevitable conclusion.
"U.S. policy is regime change by political means and prevention of nuclear weapons acquisition by all means," write Dr. Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher, who have impressive resumes but offer superficial crackpot analysis. "By all means," is a euphemism. Translated into English, it means unilaterally launching war aimed at total destruction of Iran as a nation state (yes, nuclear weapons may be necessary). "By all means," also answers the inevitable, "Yeah, but then what?" question. After we bomb a nation of 70 million people into the stone age, we keep them permanently subjugated.
This is no exaggeration. Look at their own words:
Conventional Wisdom concerning any U.S. attack on Iran:
a) Any attack will be limited to suspect Weapons of Mass Destruction sites and associated defences.
b) Iran will then have options to retaliate ...[.]
c) This analysis is not convincing for the following reasons:
- Elementary military strategy requires the prevention of anticipated enemy counter-attacks. Iranian Air Force, Navy, Surface to Surface Missile and Air Defence systems would not be left intact. Although one option may be to leave regular Iranian armed forces intact and attack to destroy the regime including Revolutionary Guard, Basij and religious police. In this way regime change might be encouraged.
- President Bush will not again lay himself open to the charge of using too little force.
- U.S. policy is regime change by political means and prevention of nuclear weapons acquisition by all means. The only logic for restraint once war begins will be continued pressure on Iran to acquiesce to U.S. demands through intra-war deterrence.
- Long term prevention of Iranian WMD programmes may require regime change and the reduction of Iran to a weak or failed state, since all assumptions concerning attacks on WMD sites alone conclude that Iran would merely be held back a few years.
- U.S. military preparations and current operations against Iran indicate a full-spectrum approach to Iran rather than one confined to WMD sites alone.
"President Bush will not again lay himself open to the charge of using too little force," is a classic neocon perversion of history. No one ever charged Bush with using "too little force" in the invasion of Iraq or anywhere else. Rather, Bush failed to use a sufficient number of troops to impose order and control in Iraq. Four years later, our own troop strength is decimated, while Iran's remains intact.
Aside from troop strength, Pleash and Butcher acknowledge that Iran can retaliate by non-traditional means, such as "insurrection in Iraq" or "destabilization of Gulf states with large Shi'a populations."
But all the bullet points under "c)" represent the entire solution to all of Iran's retaliatory options, including local insurrections.
So if the U.S. is short on troops and domestic military intelligence in Iran, how does it fight a non-traditional war as a foreign invader? By the "full-spectrum approach" which can only mean killing enough Iranians, largely by air power, to force the entire country into submission. "The only logic for restraint once war begins will be continued pressure on Iran to acquiesce to U.S. demands through intra-war deterrence." "[A]ttack to destroy the regime including Revolutionary Guard, Basij and religious police." Which are all necessary for "reduction of Iran to a weak or failed state." That necessity is dictated by the opinion of the Iraqi people, 91 percent of whom believe it is important that Iran develops the capability to enrich its own uranium fuel.
If you stand in "the shadow of a nuclear holocaust," to use George Bush's words, then anything is justifiable.
I knew Plesch and Butcher were delusional right away, when I jumped to the section titled, "And How Could This Affect the Gulf States and Combatants." You would think after our debacle in Iraq, any military analysis would address the threshold question, "How will people react?" Plesch and Butcher don't go there.
As a result, they ignore a huge logistical problem. You need to consider the reaction of Kuwait, which hosts the Combined Forces Land Component Command and is used as the primary staging point for forces and equipment rotating in and out of Iraq. And consider Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. And consider Oman, which allows the U.S. to use four air bases. And consider Qatar, where the U.S. maintains its headquarters for all Middle East air operations. And consider the United Arab Emirates, where more U.S. Navy ships dock than at any port outside the U.S.
Each of these sovereign states has announced its staunch opposition to any military attack on Iran and none of these countries will allow an attack on Iran to originate from its soil. And only a fool would presume that we could launch attacks on Iran from elsewhere and thereafter the Gulf states would continue their same level of cooperation.
Plesch and Butcher acknowledge that Iran may seek "destabilization of Gulf states with large Shi'a populations," as if it's just a matter of manipulating the sleeping masses. They never consider that local populations are capable of reacting without anyone prompting them. Gulf state leaders are not as stupid as Plesch and Butcher. They know that virtually all suicide bombers act against foreign military occupiers (the 9/11 highjackers wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia). So Bahrain, where 70 percent of the population is Shia but the rulers are Sunni, suddenly becomes a less stable place. The risk of terrorism against the Fifth Fleet becomes greater, so the government may decide, for its own self preservation, that the Fifth Fleet is no longer welcome.
Almost no Shia live in Egypt, where they are traditional objects of ridicule. But Hosni Mubarak also announced his staunch opposition to military action against Iran, because he recognizes how such an attack could destabilize his own government. A poll taken last April shows that 91 percent of Egyptians approve of attacks on U.S. troops. Not just U.S. troops in Iraq. U.S. troops anywhere in the Middle East. Similarly, 92 percent of Egyptians believe that the goal of U.S. foreign policy is to divide and weaken Islam. This is before we bomb Iran in defiance of the rest of the world. The largest Arab country in the world suddenly becomes a lot less stable.
Plesch and Butcher are just like other flunkies for the White House, mostly members of the press, who go to extraordinary lengths to ignore the most salient facts. Iran has amicable relations with all of the Gulf states. Iran has very friendly relations with all of its neighbors, which include Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. All these countries, and most of the rest of the world, view Israel's nuclear capability as a counterbalance to Iran's nuclear aspirations. Also, Iran's construction of nuclear power plants makes sense from a strictly economic point of view, since it enables greater oil and gas exports.
And this is the really unbelievable part. This part that makes you think Plesch and Butcher had lobotomies and forgot what happened in Iraq. Remember how they wrote, "Long term prevention of Iranian WMD programmes may require regime change and the reduction of Iran to a weak or failed state." We have a weak or failed state in Iraq. Do these bozos think we can exert control over Iraq? Or that a failed or weakened Iraq makes anyone more safe?
Do they think we have troops to send to Iran? If our Army is forced to take injured and physically unfit soldiers back for third deployments back to Iraq, you know our Army is in pathetic shape.
Remember, lots of Iranians speak Arabic and lots of Iraqis speak Farsi. Local insurgents can easily blend into neighborhoods on both sides. Americans, on the other hand, never know when they are being lied to. Exactly who do they think will do the Americans' bidding after we destroy their military, in direct defiance of every country in the world with the possible exception of Israel?
"This is, in fact, World War III," argues Newt Gingrich. For necocons, total war is really the only option for imposing their will on the rest of the world -- especially now that Iraq has left U.S. military, economic and diplomatic influence largely crippled. "The Case for Bombing Iran," according to Norman Podhoretz, is the historic imperative to confront "another mutation of the totalitarian disease we defeated first in the shape of Nazism and fascism and then in the shape of Communism." Again, they're like something out of Dr. Strangelove.
If Considering a War with Iran: A Discussion Paper on WMD in the Middle East, is an approximation of what our military leadership is thinking, then we all have a moral duty to try and stop this notion from going anywhere.