Is Iran Next?
How likely is a U.S. preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities? If criteria used as logic for the war with Iraq are applied to Iran, you’d have to conclude that there is very likely an urgency among Pentagon planners, and no doubt in Israel as well! Iran has the will to wreak havoc, and will very soon have the means. But Iran presents several complicated problems that make it a completely different case from that of Iraq.
A sizable percentage of the Iranian population is culturally pro-American, kept in check by a ruling theocracy of Mullahs. By many accounts, the Mullahs are very unpopular among the rank and file in Iran. Islamic religious rule has not delivered the utopia foreseen by Ayatolla Khomeini and his radical followers. The younger generation has had enough access to satellite television, western publications and movies to be well aware of how backward their society is. One personal account I read illustrates the unpopularity of Iranian clerics, saying they are hard pressed to catch a taxi if they’re wearing their religious garb. They are avoided and treated with fear and suspicion by the population.
Iran is three times the geographical size of Iraq. The mullahs have gone to great lengths to split up and conceal components of their nuclear programs, making the prospect of knocking out their facilities by aerial bombing alone next to impossible. The sheer size of the country renders a troop invasion improbable, particularly given the fact that American forces are already spread thin in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon is vigorously denying a recent story that Special Forces reconnaissance missions are currently under way, with the intent of pinpointing strategic targets in advance of a bombing campaign. But they surely couldn’t acknowledge such an operation regardless of the truth.
Iran is unapologetically pursuing nuclear technology. They have acquired missiles capable of striking anywhere in the Middle East, and with the potential of hitting targets in Europe. Iranian diplomats attend conferences and with a straight face assure the international nuclear watchdog agencies that their intent is entirely peaceful. The explanation makes no sense at all, as Iran is already among the top energy producers in the world, another blatant indication of dishonesty in regard to their nuclear program. Iran is known to have funded terrorism for decades, and believed to have cooperated with, and even harbored Osama bin Laden at various times since he was chased from the caves of Tora Bora.
“President Bush refuses to rule out war with Iran. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami says his country is ready to defend against a U.S. attack,” according to a current article by the Associated Press. Vice President Dick Cheney addressed current concerns in recent days by suggesting that Israel “might well decide to act first…without being asked.” Some analysts wondered aloud whether the V.P. was giving a veiled “green light” to Israel. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of serious U.S.-Israeli discussions in progress behind the scenes, and no such “green light” could be taken from off-handed statements in a radio interview.
Israel has to be more than mildly concerned, given the fact that the country is within easy range of Iranian missiles, the destruction of Israel is a stated goal, and all observers agree that nuclear warhead capability is not far in the future. Still, lip service is given to the hope of a diplomatic solution. European Ambassadors have been conducting endless meetings with the Iranians to no avail. Europe would no doubt be apoplectic if the U.S. were to “go it alone” without their approval, again. There is talk of UN sanctions, and so forth. Moves that would predominantly make life miserable for the population rather than the ruling class, as we’ve seen occur in so many other instances. Some hope it might lead to an uprising and overthrow of the Muslim regime, though revolution certainly wouldn’t come without considerable bloodshed, and with no guarantee of success.
But it is clear to all concerned; something has to give in this situation. Neither Israel nor the United States can afford to stand by and wait to see what the fanatical Mullahs will do with nuclear missiles under their command.
The BBC news recently published the following quotes from publications in Israel, Pakistan, and Iran. Various approaches are addressed, from the prospect of sanctions to bombing campaigns. It is interesting to see the logic employed in that part of the world, and the likelihood of the latter scenario largely discounted by the official media in Iran.
Israel’s Jerusalem Post
“Talk of military action against Iran should be taken at face value, because there may soon be no choice. But before that happens, these threats should spur Western non-military sanctions that – if they are comprehensive, swift and drastic – could still address the problem as effectively at a lower risk and cost. If military action becomes the only remaining option, Europe will have no one to blame but itself.”
“It is important for the Americans not to give the impression that they are eager to precede diplomatic discussions with a military strike, but also to remind the Iranians that their bluff in the nuclear poker game is liable to fall apart in the face of a card that is not part of the European deck – the Israeli joker.”
“According to some news reports, the U.S. is close to punishing Iran. The U.S. could use Pakistan to this end because Iran has been involved in creating unrest in Balochistan. But we say Pakistan and Iran are brother Muslim countries. The U.S. and the U.K. are leveling various allegations against them to destabilize both of them. The people of Pakistan hope that their government will not give a helping hand to the U.S. for any action against Iran.”
“The Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., Jehangir Karamat, has urged the U.S. to use diplomatic means to end its differences with Iran because military action would cause instability in the entire region. We say this suggestion is correct and realistic. If the U.S. attacks Iran, Muslim countries would be right to conclude that the U.S. campaign is not against terrorism but against the Muslim world.”
Iran’s Iran Daily
“America knows that Iran is not Iraq and cannot be occupied easily. Therefore it is increasing diplomatic pressure on Iran and its partners. The current trend indicates that the U.S. will be content to exert pressure on Iran over the next four years.”
Iran’s Tehran Times
“There simply aren’t any American troops available to invade Iran. What would really tip the whole area into acute crisis is a re-radicalized Iran that has concluded it will never be secure until it has expelled the United States from the region.”
“American rulers have not been able to achieve their ideal security situation in Iraq or Afghanistan yet. So it doesn’t seem rational for the U.S. to open a new front by attacking Iran, which would be more difficult than ousting the small regime of the Taliban or the unpopular Baath regime.”
Iran’s Iran Daily
“The Islamic Republic of Iran cannot remain immune from mounting U.S. pressure. In the face of a new round of war-mongering policies and propaganda warfare, Iran needs to adopt a comprehensive approach based on boosting transparency and international trust without compromising its national interests.”
News Story used in this commentary -