Washington’s Iranian dilemma

All three of the major Middle East crisis-areas that I identified in this JWN post last week are entering new and even more dangerous phases.
That is: Iraq; Israel-Palestine; and the Iranian nuclear developments.
The Bushites find themselves faced, in all three of these areas, with choices that are just about impossible for them to make– if they stick to the pugnaciously unilateralist approach to foreign affairs that they’ve pursued since 9/11.
In fact, it’s very interesting and significant already that they’re trying to take the Iranian case to the Security Council rather than “simply” deploying their own or Israel’s military might to obliterate the cause of their concern there.
But even the Bushites are realistic enough to understand that if they did attempt an “Osirak” option:

    (1) It would only set back the Iranian program– whatever that is intended to achieve, which we still do not know– by a short period of time;
    (2) It could meanwhile confidently be predicted to provoke a firestorm of violent anti-US and anti-Israeli actions throughout the Middle East– including very probably against both the widely-dispersed US forces in Iraq and their lengthy and vulnerable supply lines;
    (3) It could also be predicted to provoke a massive and largely unpredictable political/diplomatic reaction throughout a world that has seen the US government giving a nod and a wink to the “outside the law” acquisition of nuclear weapons by Israel, India, and Pakistan, but which then chooses to launch military action action to end a nuclear program in Iran that– even with the launching of fuel-enrichment activities– still does not transgress the basic terms of the NPT.

What will happen at the Security Council if the Bushites succeed in their campaign to have that body consider the case of the Iranian nuclear developments? Who knows? It certainly wouldn’t easily result in the kind of strong-condemnation outcome that the Bushites would aim for. The balance of global power is no longer one that is prepared almost “automatically” to give Washington whatever it asks for.
And if the Security Council starts examining the status of the NPT– how about looking at the degree of progress on Article 6, while we’re about it?
… Anyway, I’ve opened this thread here for people to discuss the Iranian nuclear question. It certainly won’t be “going away” as an issue anytime over the next three weeks! Nor will the other two portions of Washington’s current Middle East “trifecta”.
I, however, will be “going away”… Well, not literally. But this week my agent and I have been nailing down the arrangements for publishing my book on transitional justice issues in Africa. They involve me rewriting just about the entire manuscript within the next three weeks. I need to bring the length down from 108K words to under 100K, and do some re-arranging. Good job my whole professional formation was on the basis of “Deadlines ‘R’ Us”, eh?
So expect my postings here over the next few weeks to be even more scrappy and idiosyncratic than usual. (Though I have a very interesting one up my sleeve for you, soon.) In the meantime, have some good conversations here among yourselves if you should wish…

19 thoughts on “Washington’s Iranian dilemma”

  1. The reasons you cite against an air strike on Iran could all be used to support one too. Some people claim that extension of the war to Iran is vital to save the mission in Iraq. Ledeen says the sooner the better. t
    Iran’s Bushehr reactor (aka Bush here) is not scheduled to start fission until October. Thus, perhaps you have until August or September to finish the MS before a pre-emtive strike occurs. To avoid a super Chernobyl type event, an attack would have to occur before the reactor goes “hot.” However, to keep this from causing simply a temporary setback, some Neocons would time the attack afterwards, leaving big swath of Iran covered with cesium 137 and strontium 90 that takes 30 years to cool. Thus, an early attack might be more humane, even if it yields a less lasting result than some believe necessary.
    Sorry to say, but once the reactor starts running, there is no “clean” way to stop weapons development. And, thus far, Ahmadinejad has outperformed just about every scare story that even the most right-wing nut could allege about what Iran’s leaders think and want.

  2. It is remarkable that nobody in the West is taking a leadership position on nuclear arms proliferation is South Asia – indeed, the Americans now are redoubling efforts to send India more nuclear technology (“peaceful uses”), while the Indian government reserves the right to maintain non-IAEA reviewable installations for their military nuclear research and bomb production, all under the guise of “non-signatory to NPT”. Pakistan has benefited from the rogue AQ Khan network, and has no intention of pulling back from nuclearisation of its military capability. And let us not speak of the Israelis, long consecrated by the Americans as their nuclear proxy for the Middle East. With all that, and the fact that India and Pakistan nearly “went nuclear” over Kashmir a scant few years ago, the brouhaha over the Iranians wanting to pursue uranium enrichment (minus any evidence to date that diversion into nuclear weapons programmes has been established) simply gives one pause. As long as the West insists on conserving nuclear weapons, reserves the right to use them, and does precious little to discourage its “allies” in S. Asia and the Middle East from building formidable nuclear weapon arsenals, how in God’s name can they take Iran to task, one may ask?

  3. Well and good, Frank, but below is part of what the article actually says. Check the middle sentence.
    ‘Sir Alan was the first Western military commander to express his disquiet over the possibility of an armed intervention in the growing crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme. It came amid reports that the US and Israel may bomb the nuclear facilities if Tehran refuses to back down from its belligerent stance over its nuclear testing, despite international anger.
    ‘Admiral West said: “The consequence of military action would be quite horrendous. We should not do it, the matter should be resolved some other way.”‘
    There is absolutely no evidence at all of “belligerence” on the Iranians’ behalf. This invention is either down to the reporter Sengupta, or the Independent’s sub-editor. It’s only there to cut the effect of West’s words. It makes me angry. These newspaper offices are full of spies and agents, I’m afraid. I do believe there are thousands of warmongering Judith Miller types in position.

  4. A military strike on Iran is really not a very feasible idea. Their nuclear facilities are dispersed and some are hardened to survive air attacks. The US very likely does not even know the true extent of Iran’s capabilities and all their locations. Witness the inability of the intelligence agencies to provide any accurate information on Iraq despite their hunderds of billion dollar expenditures. And with the roll-up of CIA assets in Iran through an “inadvertent” (aka incompetent) leak recently, Iran is probably quite dark to US intelligence. Of course the Europeans have a heavy presence in Iran, so there should be some information flow although their veracity may be in question.
    See Pat Lang’s blog. To quote Pat:
    “a fruitful result would require a maximum effort on the part of US Air Force and US Navy world-wide. We are talking about something in the nature of a thousand strike sorties of aircraft and cruise missiles using platforms deployed from all over the planet.”
    “The target set would require numerous waves of re-strikes after bomb damage assessments were made.”
    Does this sound like something feasible? Note Iran’s nuclear facilities are not a Osirak in Iraq, that a few Israeli fighters took out.
    And Iran will not sit around idly while they get bombed. They are acquiring sophisticated air defense missiles from Russia. They will further inflame the already inflamed situation in Iraq. Oil prices will skyrocket and supplies from the Gulf could be seriously disrupted if there is military action in the Straits of Hormuz. Note that Japan and China get 90% of their oil imports from the middle east.
    At the end of the day all this military strike talk is just bluster and to once again ratchet up fear in the west. The Iranians are not afraid. They know the reality – they have won Iraq, China needs long-term energy agreements to keep their economy going, the US military is substantially over committed and weaker than what it was in 2003. The only thing this achieves is fear in the west and the further enablement of the “national security” state, depriving citizens of their constitutional liberties.
    Maybe its either MAD or total nuclear disarmament worldwide as the solution. Undoubtedly a nuclear Iran will not be good for the US. But unless Iran can receive verifiable security guarantees against attack they will notice the difference between the fates of Iraq and N.Korea.

  5. manz: “…verifiable security guarantees…”
    What is this issue? And are you saying that Iran has agreed to cut back it’s nuclear development in return for diplomatic concessions? I haven’t seen this. Do you have web references for this?

  6. Just to let you know I think I am blocked for posting a free comments on this site.
    Its looking I am not welcomed her.
    Leave you in peace.

  7. Salah…it doubtlessly is a technical glitch…you have an interesting perspective on issues discussed here…which makes this site more worthwhile by being inclusive of divergent experiences and viewpoints.

  8. say what you will about Iran’s president…he doesn’t obfuscate his true intentions like, say, the clever, devious Rafsanjani…he cares not a whit for public opinion in Europe or America…he has changed little, if at all, from the heady days in 1979 when he was a young leader of the hostage takers in Teheran…What you see is what you get!

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