July 5, 2008
War drums becoming deafening
THE Americans and the Israelis are acting in concert vis-à-vis Iran. The unmistakable message they are putting out loud and clear is that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is on the cards in the event Tehran doesn’t cave into their demands. Are they bluffing as part of an arm-twisting strategy or are they seriously planning to transform this region into an inferno?
Pundits have been analyzing the probability of a US or Israeli attack on Iran for several years now. Some have even come up with likely dates but most of those have come and gone eroding the analysts’ credibility and dulling fears. There’s been so much chatter on the subject that we may reach the point when a “will they or won’t they?” discussion will turn into nothing more than an academic exercise on the basis it hasn’t happened so, therefore, it probably never will. The danger is Iran and the region could easily be lured into letting down its guard. Certainly, members of the Iranian leadership have indicated they don’t take the threat very seriously even though they are planning for every contingency and threatening to set the Middle East aflame if attacked.
In recent weeks, since the Israelis launched a supposed dry run in the eastern Mediterranean using 100 fighter planes and aerial tankers, the chatter has reached a crescendo. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed, “Iran will not be nuclear”. Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has termed a strike on Iran “unavoidable”.
Retired Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit warned that if Israel doesn’t destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities within a year, Israel would be vulnerable to nuclear incineration. He says that even if Israel doesn’t receive a green light from the US, it should be prepared to go it alone. Shavit believes there is a window of opportunity before the upcoming US election when the deed should be done in case of a win by Barack Obama, who has advocated jaw-jaw before war-war.
ARCH neoconservative and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton says he believes Israel is poised to strike in November once the ballot has taken place.
Knesset member and retired Maj. Gen. Dani Yotom, who isn’t known for his hawkish views, says sanctions against Iran aren’t working and so “a military operation is needed”. Even the normally moderate Israeli historian Benny Morris recently said, “If the issue is whether Israel or Iran should perish, then Iran should perish”.
Suspicions that an attack might be in the pipeline were heightened after leaks supposedly forced the Israeli prime minister to admit he had secretly met with Aviam Sela, a brilliant military tactician said to be the architect of Israel’s 1981 strike on Iraq’s Osirak reactor. It is believed that Sela was asked to give his opinion on the feasibility of similarly putting Iran’s nuclear facilities out of action.
There is no doubt that Israelis genuinely fear a nuclear-armed Iran, which they believe would constitute an existential threat, but why are Israelis being so upfront about their intentions when history tells us they normally strike first and answer questions later?
Given that Iran is not Iraq circa the 1980s as far as airpower, weaponry, technology and sophisticated communications go and in light of the fact Iran’s main nuclear facilities are buried under layers of steel and concrete as much as 100 feet underground, eradicating Tehran’s nuclear capability would be challenging for any military unless it was prepared to unleash nuclear bunker-busters. Moreover, unlike the Osirak surprise strike, an attack on Iran would trigger serious military repercussions that could involve Syria, Hezbollah and pro-Iranian Shiite Iraqi groups. Such a pre-emptive move would probably result in a massive loss of life on all sides and would have a devastating effect on the global economy with oil prices reaching hitherto unimaginable heights.
Further, since neither Israel nor the US are in any position to launch a ground invasion without the complicity of anti-government Iranian surrogates, strikes on Iranian nuclear plants would probably result in Tehran not only reconstructing but setting their sights on developing nuclear weapons even if they’ve no plans to do so now. It’s worth mentioning that the Osirak reactor was for peaceful purposes and it was only after it was hit that Saddam Hussein actively sought a bomb.
According to the New Yorker’s veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in an article titled “Preparing the Battlefield”, President George W. Bush has sanctioned covert operations and requested $400 million designed to destabilize Iran outside the sphere of the US military. These will largely be carried out by Iranian dissidents rather than Americans in the field, he says. But, once again, Iran is not Iraq. It’s a far more cohesive country and although not all of its citizens support the government, most identify themselves as proud Iranians who harbor a historical aversion to neoimperialist plots. There is no doubt that Israel and the US would like the Iranian government to be wiped off the face of the earth along with its nuclear ambitions but both countries are divided on what to do. So far their joint and separate belligerency isn’t working. If their bellicose words and provocative actions are, indeed, a giant bluff they are ineffective. They are simply causing the Iranian leadership to dig its heels in further and assert its right under the NPT to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Even if this is a coordinated bluff, it could so easily reach the point of no return when to maintain strategic credibility, the players will have to make good on their threats. Certainly, one Iranian commander Brig. Gen. Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh is taking these to heart already. According to Press TV, he has already got his troops digging more than 320,000 graves within Iran’s bordering provinces to provide any invading force with “the respect they deserve”.
Now here is a interesting letter that a reader wrote to this article today.
To add to the excellent overview by Linda Heard (July 1), I wish to state the following:
1. Is not Jerusalem sacred to all of Islam? What are the Israelis thinking? I cannot imagine any nation of Islam launching any kind of nuclear strike on Israel for the simple reason that in doing so, Jerusalem would become either destroyed or simply irradiated to the point of making any pilgrimages to it untenable.
2. Iran has become too important to many nations in the region. With its current pipeline projects to supply gas and other cooperative ventures in its neighboring states, Iran has shown itself to be a valuable resource to those neighboring countries. An attack on it would endanger its important role in helping stabilize the nations of the region, a role for which Washington is no doubt jealous.
3. The truth has become transparent. Democracy is spread by subversion! The right of a people to choose its own government and its own form of government is a myth as proven by the election of Hamas in Gaza and the resultant oppression by America and Israel against it. The right of a nation not engaged in aggression to be secure within its borders is a myth. It is shameful for a nation that cries democracy for the world to use terrorists and dissidents to undermine those governments that it is in contention with. In the case with Iran, it is now clear that the only aggressors in the region are the US and Israel.
4. Who are Israel’s real enemies? It is not the Arabs. History has shown that Arabs have historically protected and sheltered their Semitic brethren, the Jews, when they were being persecuted and murdered by the Europeans. While the Arab states are opposed to the illegal creation of Israel and the dispossession of Arab peoples from Palestine, it has been Europe that has shown the greatest hatred toward Jews and even to this date, despite harsh laws criminalizing anti-Semitism such hatred remains. Even in the US many groups exist that hold Jewry in disdain. As the current economic crises deepen within America, this hatred is bound to increase as it becomes obvious who the rich are. Perhaps Israel should be looking westward to see if the dragon is rising out of the sea, as foreseen by John in Revelation, and recognizing just who that dragon is.
5. The only solutions to the dilemmas facing the Middle East must come from the nations of the region, not from outsiders.
The obligation of each nation in the region including Israel is to protect the integrity of the region. This means protecting it against any hegemonic interests that would attempt to dominate the region for whatever excuse. While hatred exists among nations it is time to put aside such feelings. While accepting that major differences do exist and that there are valid reasons for those feelings, what is more important is to find a way so that each can exist without allowing outsiders to impose their might or will upon the region. Be warned the dogs are at the doors; whether you let them into your home is your choice. (Even though the beasts have already entered by the back door!) With all due consideration.
Jerry Copeland, United States published 5 July 2008