THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. ...(More than any other subject matter entertained, international politics focusing on the Middle East has me stumbling around in the dark. I offer a take that is more a display of my inclinations than an attempt at positive assertion.)
One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.
Britain and Russia are at odds over the high-profile poisoning of Litvinenko while the US and Russia are tense over missile shield equipment in neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic. More broadly, the West's advocation of Kosovo independence pits it against Russia as well. Meanwhile, much of Iran's conventional military is old Soviet in design, and much of the indigenous weaponry is part Russian-brainchild. China, busy doing business in Africa and selling military aircraft to Iran on the side, has no reason to antagonize Iran, either. The UN avenue will provide little more than an attempt at multilateralism that (of course) failed, forcing military action as a last resort. And so history will repeat itself.
Does the Iranian war machine threaten US vital interests? The Tosan, an agile lightweight tank and Iran's various surface-to-surface missiles could cause trouble in Iraq, but the threat of an attack on the US is absurd. It is difficult to see how a debilitating simultaneous set of strikes on Iranian military capabilities in place of broadly supported sanctions would deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Such an attack would boost the domestic popularity of Ahmadenijad and his conservative allies while making nuclear weapons seem more necessary than ever before.
Israel pledges to do the dirty work if the US will not:
Israel, which has warned it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, has made its own preparations for airstrikes and is said to be ready to attack if the Americans back down.Despite a population one-tenth the size, Israel's military total military expenditures are almost the same Iran's are. Israel has four times as many battle tanks as Iran does, and they're in good repair. While the IDF's air force is cutting edge, much of what Iran's is purported to have has never seen combat. Israel would be able to clean house, with real(ly old) soft targets to hit, as opposed to the frustratingly modest effectiveness of the civilian shanty-town bombings directed at Hezbollah last summer. Oh, and Israel has nuclear weapons. Why, if someone just must attack Iran, should it not be Israel?
The Saudis have to be relieved to see us now playing the other side of the table so recklessly. We remove Shia Iran's primary antagonists, the Baathists, and hand the country over to their co-religionists. Saudi Arabia naturally becomes fearful of Shiite disturbances in its oil-rich eastern coast with a new Iranian-allied Iraq on the same doorstep, while Iraq's minority Sunnis get pummeled.
So the kingdom, forced into a corner, bites back in an uncharacteristically clear way, threatening to aid Sunni fighters in Iraq with cash and weapons and dilute Iranian oil earning power. How nice would it be for the US, or better still, Israel, to smash Iran? Weaken the encroacher and inflame the ever-useful hatred of the Jewish state/Zionist West among the hordes of idle young Saudi men?
Where is the Democratic party as this rhetorical build-up blazes on? On the sidelines, echoing the same platitudes about 'diplomacy first but all options remain on the table' that is coming from the President himself. Can't look soft on terror. Better to let the neocons blunder catastrophically yet again. It makes for easy political pickings afterwards.
Our involvement in the Middle East is set to get even more prodigious when it needs to be reduced as much as possible.