Potential US attack on Iran

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[edit] Overview

There is persistent discussion of a possible United States attack on Iran.

The pro-attack argument seems to be, as explained here:

  • Iran is an oppressive, totalitarian regime with Islamofascist values we do not want to see spread at all, much less throughout the world.
  • Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, despite their claims that their nuclear program is entirely for nuclear power.
  • Once they have developed nuclear weapons, they will be in a position to "start exercising its Islamic agenda and dominance across the Middle East and throughout the world".
  • Therefore, we must stop their nuclear program at any cost.

The obvious counters to this:

  • When has a pre-emptive strike ever been a good idea? (Any historical examples?)
  • A pre-emptive strike could start a conflagration which could do tremendous physical harm, eclipsing even the long-term physical harm which might be done by the resulting hypothetical accelerated spread of Islam.
  • A pre-emptive strike would inflame the Islamic world, driving yet more otherwise-neutrals into the arms of the terrorists (as the US invasion of Iraq has done)
  • There are better ways to fight the spread of Islam, even though neocons have done their best to pretend they don't exist. Carefully-engineered regime change within Iran would be more likely to have a good effect. After all, we toppled the former democratic government and put the current one in place; surely we can do the reverse.
  • At the very least, even if you insist that all these objections are outweighed by the urgency of the matter, George W. Bush is not the leader who can do this properly. This is likely to be another fiasco like Iraq, with more unaccounted-for billions of dollars spilling into the desert for the enemy to find and use against us.
  • Most recently, the National Intelligence Assessment has concluded that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons program since 2003, once again undermining Bush's claims that Iran is a threat.

Additional counters:

  • If we need to attack Iran to defend ourselves, then was the $5 trillion (1950 dollars) nuclear deterrent a waste of money? [1]
  • We have yet to see a good case that Iran is even a repressive regime. Wouldn't the pro-war people be focusing more on this, if it actually is true?

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[edit] version 2

  • 2009-01-11 [Talk|Index] NYTimes-Story: Iran vor Atombombe § A tale of Iran's nuclear ambitions, spun by the New York Times, is methodically unraveled.
  • 2008-11-11 [Talk|Index] Natürlich wird Barack Obama den Iran Überfallen § “Nobody who is of sound mind and body doubts that the US has their armed robbery of Iran completely planned through and the dates for it to get started have already been set.”
  • 2008-05-08 [Talk|Index] Terrifying religious insanity § [2]“Watch this heartwarming display of inter-faith unity, in which crazy Jewish nationalists and crazy Christian fundamentalists overcome their differences and get in bed together over their common religious insanity. Featuring Tom DeLay, John Hagee, and Joe Lieberman.” Includes many believers stating passionately that they are looking forward to Armageddon. (In one scene, Lieberman praises Rick Santorum, in the audience.)
  • 2008-05-04 [Talk|Index] United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp § [2]“The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country. .. Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.”
  • 2008-05-04 [Talk|Index] Iraq says no hard evidence of Iran support for militia § [2]“[ Iraq ] government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there was no "hard evidence" of involvement by the neighbouring Shiite government of Iran in backing Shiite militiamen in the embattled country. .. Asked about US reports that weapons captured from Shiite fighters bore 2008 markings suggesting Iranian involvement, Dabbagh said: "We don't have that kind of evidence... If there is hard evidence we will defend the country." Tehran strongly opposes the US military presence in Iraq, while Washington has repeatedly accused Iranian groups of arming and training Shiite militia groups in its neighbour. .. Iran, whose ties with Washington have been severed since 1980, strongly denies the allegations.”
  • 2008-05-01 [Talk|Index] Iran Opens War Avoidance Flank § [2]“As threats of military action against Iran continue to issue from various spokesmen of the war party in the U.S., the Islamic Republic has launched an ambitious initiative aimed at preventing war, based on a comprehensive package of economic, political and security measures on a vast regional plane. The package includes proposals to settle remaining questions related to Iran's nuclear energy program, but is not limited to that. ... Jalili declared that his government was presenting the Russian delegation a package of proposals aimed at solving the problems of the world. "The package is about the great questions of the world," he said, "and the nuclear question could be the subject of discussion." While declining to give details, he added, "We spoke in detail with our Russian friend and we explained our vision. Our approach could be a good basis for negotiation between the influential powers of the world," according to AFP.” The article seems to be interpreting this event as an Iranian overture to an alliance with Russia so that Iran will have Russia's help if the US attacks (or, possibly, to convince the US not to attack because of the threat of retaliation from former superpower Russia). As the US's own forces are currently in a bad way, this would be a serious threat.
  • 2008-03-12 [Talk|Index] Head of US Forces in Mideast Resigns § [2]“Gates said he did not think it was the Esquire article alone that prompted Fallon to quit. Rather, Gates thought it was "a cumulative kind of thing" that he and Fallon had failed to put "behind us." He also dismissed as "ridiculous" any notion that Fallon's departure signals the United States is planning to go to war with Iran.”
  • 2008-03-11 [Talk|Index] The Man Between War and Peace § [2]“As the White House talked up conflict with Iran, the head of U.S. Central Command, William "Fox" Fallon, talked it down. Now he has resigned.”
  • 2008-03-11 [Talk|Index] A Pentagon problem – loose lips § [2]by Jim Miklaszewski: “The Pentagon sharks are circling CENTCOM Commander Adm. William "Fox" Fallon for a magazine interview in which he appears to openly criticize President Bush on the administration's Iran policy. The very public comments raised speculation Fallon would either volunteer or be forced to resign. .. Defense Secretary William Gates announced Tuesday that Fallon is stepping down as head of U.S. Central Command.” ... “Gates has said publicly and privately that under current conditions he's opposed to war with Iran. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen is also against it. In fact, almost every senior military officer we've talked to is against launching military strikes against Iran, because as one senior official told us, "then what do you do?"” ... “...during a conference in Bahrain last December, Gates had to convince Gulf state Arab allies that the United States was not going soft on Iran, because from their vantage point it appeared the Bush administration was backing away from its tough stand against Iran.” Perhaps this explains why an attack is even being contemplated – Bush's Saudi masters want it.
  • 2008-03-05 [Talk|Index] Bush May Fire CentCom Chief Adm. Fallon, Replace With Commander More ‘Pliable’ To War With Iran § [2]“Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon “one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today.” Fallon opposed the “surge” in Iraq and has consistently battled the Bush administration to avoid a confrontation with Iran, calling officials’ war-mongering “not helpful.” Privately, he has vowed that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” .. Unfortunately, this level-headed thinking and willingness to stand up to President Bush may cost him his job.”
  • 2008-01-10 [Talk|Index] Will the Iranian "Provocation" Ruse Be Allowed to Succeed? § [2]2=“The navy showed a tape of what they claimed were Iranian speedboats "harassing" a U.S. warship, along with audio of foreign-sounding bad guys making very threatening statements. .. However, after a blogger pointed out that the accents of the supposed speed boat passengers could not have been Iranian, the government changed its story...”
  • 2007-12-03 [Talk|Index] Intel Chief Breaks New Non-Disclosure Policy With Dovish Iran Report § [2]by Spencer Ackerman: "Hmm. Could it be that Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell is trying to signal his opposition to a war with Iran?"
  • 2007-11-06 [Talk|Index] Poll finds Americans split on taking military action in Iran § [2]by Susan Page, USA Today: "Americans are concerned about Iran's nuclear program but split on whether military action should be undertaken if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to stop it, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll."
  • 2007-09-24 [Talk|Index] 60 Minutes: Ahmadinejad plays coy § [2](video/text) “60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley sat down with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for what can only be termed a surreal interview. Pelley was combative for most of the interview, White House talking points quite literally in hand. Ahmadinejad’s responses were frustratingly equivocal. It sparked a great debate in my home as to why…if Ahmadinejad does want to reach some sort of detente with the rising escalation of war rhetoric, his dancing around direct questions did not truly help him.”
  • 2007-05-28 [Talk|Index] Bush sanctions 'black ops' against Iran § [2]by Tim Shipman: “Mr Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs. .. Bruce Riedel, until six months ago the senior CIA official who dealt with Iran, said: "Vice-President [Dick] Cheney helped to lead the side favouring a military strike, but I think they have concluded that a military strike has more downsides than upsides."”
  • 2007-02-25 [Talk|Index] US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran § [2]“America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme. .. The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.” So... in pursuit of the War on Terror, we are now funding terrorist organizations.

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[edit] Political Viewpoints

  • George W. Bush, 2005-08-13 (answering reporter's question "Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about how you have diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike?"): "All options are on the table."
  • 2008 presidential candidates:
    • Barack Obama, 2007-02-11 (responding to the question "Would you advocate the use of military force to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?") "I think we should keep all options on the table..."
    • John Edwards: "All options must remain on the table in regards to dealing with Iran, whose nuclear ambition threatens the security of Israel and the entire world."
    • Hillary Clinton: "We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."

[edit] Discussion

From Contrary Brin [2]:

Russ Daggatt said:
These people really, truly are insane. The same Joshua Muravchik (a “resident scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute) quoted above has an op-ed piece in the LA Times titled simply and honestly "Bomb Iran". Among the insights of this 'scholar":
"WE MUST bomb Iran . ... wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse. ... Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him."

This crazy man, who is getting ink in Foreign Policy and the op-ed page of the LA Times, doesn’t even seem to be aware that the president of Iran, far from being a dictator, isn’t even particularly powerful in that government. As Scott Ritter notes in the New Republic ("The Case for Engagement"):

"For all the attention the Western media give to Ahmadinejad's foreign policy pronouncements, the reality is that his effective influence is limited to domestic issues. The citizens of Tehran I spoke with, from every walk of life, understood this and were genuinely perplexed as to why we in the West treat Ahmadinejad as if he were a genuine head of state.
"The man has no real power," a former Revolutionary Guard member told me. "The true power in Iran resides with the Supreme Leader." The real authority is indeed the Ayatollah Sayeed Ali Khamenei, successor to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini."

More than two-thirds of the population of Iran is under 30. Unlike North Korea or Iraq under Saddam, the people of Iran are not isolated from the rest of the world. Iranian youth, in particular, are quite Westernized. Before Bush deemed Iran part of the "Axis of Evil" (a watershed event in the relations between the US and Iran) reformers were on the ascendancy in Iran.

After teetering for years and almost toppling before liberalizing pressure, the hardliners have benefited from Bush’s blunders and belligerence (even in our country, people tilt toward the hardliners when they feel threatened by external forces). Unless we do more really stupid things, like bombing Iran, it is probably just a matter of time before the clerics lose power.

As the Washington Post reported last June:

"Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
"But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said. ..."

Think of it this way. Bush will have squandered thousands of American lives and a trillion dollars, destroying US military readiness in the process, in order to take out Iran's two main rivals, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. AND HE GOT NOTHING FROM IRAN IN RETURN!

In addition to making Iran the dominant power in the region, he managed to undermine the reformers in that country. AND actually made our relationship with Iran WORSE. Now THAT is diplomatic skill! Potential US attack on Iran/excerpt

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