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Attacking Iran Will Put the US at Risk as Never Before

It may sound tough to call for attacking Iran's nuke facilities, but in doing so, the U.S. would open itself up to attack from Iran, and they don't have to fight back by sending bombers over here. They can use other delivery systems.

Word that Iran has plans to retaliate abroad with secret commando units should give pause to the neo-con hotheads in the Bush administration who are slavering for war against the Middle East's most formidable military power.

The fantasy prevailing in the White House and the Pentagon (and among some pandering Democrats in Congress) is that the U.S. can cripple Iran's nascent nuclear weapons development program by aerial bombardment of its enrichment facilities and scientific centers, and that this can be done at little cost or risk to the U.S.

In fact, the doctrine of legitimate response to attack gives Iraq a wide range of responses to any attack, which should make Americans very leery about playing such games.

If the U.S. were to bomb an Iraqi nuclear power facility, Iraq would have the legal right to do the same to vulnerable American nuclear facilities. And while the U.S. might do its attacking with B-52 bombers, stealth aircraft or missiles, Iraq could accomplish the same thing with trained commando units. Furthermore, under the international laws of war, if the commandos wore uniforms during their assault on U.S. facilities, they would have to be considered legitimate soldiers fighting for their country. The president would not be able to simply call them enemy combatants and order their fingernails ripped out.

Nor would he be able to accuse them of war crimes for spewing nuclear fallout across vast stretches of the United States, if our own attack on Iranian nuclear facilities did the same thing there.

Well, let me correct that. This president has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't give a rat's ass about international law, so he could declare captured Iranian commandos terrorists, deny them POW status, and start the torture he is so fond of, but he'd only make more enemies by so blatantly flaunting international law.

Meanwhile, Iran would not be limited to attacking U.S. nuclear facilities. If the U.S. were to attack Iranian territory, it would be as much an act of war as was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and it would enable Iran to respond in kind against any legitimate U.S. target, which could include U.S. shipping (including the targeting of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf bound for the U.S. or for U.S. allies), port facilities, transport centers like airports and rail stations, factories, oil storage facilities, chemical plants, etc. Civilian casualties? Well, as the Pentagon is wont to say, those are just unfortunate side effects?collateral damage, you might say. Iran could also turn the U.S. occupation force in Iraq into sitting ducks for attack by its allies, the Shiites in Iraq, whose forces already demonstrated their courage and capabilities in an earlier uprising against U.S. forces early in the occupation. This time, they'd have overt Iranian assistance and weapons.

During the days leading up to the Iraq war, the same warning was made about Iraq, but clearly, the Iraqi government, hobbled by years of sanctions, and massively unpopular at home, was in no position to mount such a counterstrike campaign against the U.S. The whole White House story about Iraq's posing a threat to America was a big lie. But Iran is another story. Not only does it have a battle-tested army of some 800,000 people, and plenty of arms and money, thanks to its being the second largest oil exporter in the world. It also has a democratically elected government that--whether we like it or not-- has the support of a large segment of the population.

Add to that the fact of Iranian nationalism. Where Iraq is basically a hodgepodge of tribes and ethnicities cobbled together by British colonial rulers and then held together by the use of state terror and brute force, Iran is an ancient civilization and culture with an intense sense of national pride and identity. Attack Iran, and the U.S. will instantly galvanize most Iranians--even those who may despise the current theocratic leadership--into blood enemies of America.

That is the kind of enemy that can successfully mount covert campaigns against this country.

Surely no one wants to see yet another country in an unstable region acquiring nuclear weapons, but the solution is not the Bush default of war, which Iraq and Afghanistan have shown us tends to follow the law of unintended consequences.

This is an administration of chickenhawk policymakers and leaders who have never met a war they didn't weasel their way out of, and who seem to be trying to compensate for their youthful cowardice and lack of patriotism by displays of wanton violance and aggression. If they aren't stopped, they could well be responsible for losing a few more American cities by the time Bush's second term mercifully ends.

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .

homepage: homepage: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

Hm, wouldn't be worried about 'their delivery systems' 12.Feb.2006 11:09

kilroy

the fact is,

in the end US weapons can nuke them and the whole MidEast-Central Asia, and Ahmadinejad knows it.

what he's trying to do is provoke an *international* incident (bringing in Russia, China...) over the grasp for oil&gas resources in the region.

if the US - and its citizenry - have anything to be 'worried' about (besides global radiation exposure from nuclear airbursts...) it's from any planned *military occupation* or invasion of Iran - if that's really what BushCo. is planning on - because as bad as the US Army/USMC/National Guard is doing in Iraq at the moment, just imagine how badly they'll be doing after invading a country more than three times that size, and with vastly more difficult topography.

All this ssuming that the certain, total US military defeat occurs before an imminent domestic economic collapse...


retaliate by 12.Feb.2006 12:58

who

'secret commandos'

?

wheres the link to the info

Attacking Iraq Will Put America at Risk 12.Feb.2006 13:21

Dave Lindorff dlindorff@yahoo.com

The source on the commandos was in the London Times.

Meanwhile, apologies for the fourth paragraph of the story, where I several times typed Iraq meaning to type Iran. The meaning should be easily deciphered.

Sorry folks.

Dave Lindorff


I actually thought.... 12.Feb.2006 13:43

Jack Straw

I actually thought you meant Vietnam:-) :-(

Sorry, but this mass amnesia by almost the entirety of the American public is a huge fact we are up against. Today, for example, there is a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle about training of Marines to be "good advisers" to the Iraqi "army" so the Iraqis can take over (protecting Iraq from the Iraqis), with one of the principals in the article being an officer who was born in Vietnam, who wants the US to do a better job this time than it did with people such as his father, an officer in the "South Vietnamese" Army(ie US puppet army, there never should have been an entity called "South Vietnam" in any legal sense, it was a creation of US violations of the Geneva '54 treaty) back in the '60s.

REBRANDED: 'WAR ON TERROR'... NOW - 'THE LONG WAR' 12.Feb.2006 15:51

by Tim Harper

Published on Sunday, February 12, 2006 by the Toronto Star

New Name, Same Conflict

Remember the `War on Terror'? The Bush administration has subtly redubbed it `The Long War'
Some analysts see the name change as part of a battle to widen presidential powers

WASHINGTON Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, some of the country's finest military minds met recently, synthesizing ideas, debating proposals and trading strategies.

Their goal a rebranding for the history books.

They had simply changed wars, consigning the "War on Terror" to the recycling bin and launching "The Long War."

In a George W. Bush White House well-schooled in the art of propaganda, an administration re-elected for its steely determination to stay on message, renaming a war is a new triumph of marketing.

"The War on Terror brand had gone sour," says Christopher Simpson, an expert on political communications at Washington's American University.

"It connoted abuse of power, an indiscriminate use of violence as much by the U.S. as its opponents; it barely had the support of 50 per cent of Americans and was opposed by a large percentage of the international population.

"So you rebrand. You rename to try to get rid of the past perceptions. You find a new bumper sticker."

U.S. analysts and government officials this week point to the rebranding as another attempt to gird a skeptical public for an ongoing, generational commitment of troops at war, a bid to try to revive and augment international co-operation with Washington and a way of justifying ever-expanding presidential powers under Bush.

They believe it is an attempt by a self-described wartime president to entrench his cherished wartime powers, helping him fend off attacks on an electronic surveillance program some say is illegal.

Or, some say, it could be a return to a tried-and-true tactic from this White House, the use of fear.

By speaking of a war for a generation, they say, the Bush administration is trying to keep the population fearful for a generation, mainly fearful of electing "soft-on-security Democrats." It has worked before, when the administration spoke of "mushroom clouds" in Iraq before the 2003 invasion, or faced accusations of raising terror levels at home during turbulent political times.

Just as the new name was being slapped on an old war, Bush was filling in details of a thwarted 2002 terrorist plot in which Al Qaeda sought to blow up the largest building in Los Angeles.

New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton said the Republican game plan is all about getting America scared again.

"Contrary to Franklin Roosevelt, (who said) we have nothing to fear but fear itself, this crowd is: `All we've got is fear, and we're going to keep playing the fear card,'" she said.

John Pike, a military analyst at GlobalSecurity.Org, suggests, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, that the Pentagon should call it The Forever War.

"We're in the 17th year of The Long War," he says, arguing the U.S. has been in perpetual combat since it intervened in Panama to remove Manuel Noriega from power in 1989.

"Since then, we have been blowing somebody up, or getting ready to blow somebody up or coming back from blowing somebody up," he says. "It is so normal, people don't even notice any more."

But he doesn't believe the rebranding is about fear as much as it is about the Bush administration trying to consolidate its so-called "war powers."

"It's not about bin Laden any more," he says. "People aren't scared of him any more.

"My fear is that it is really the inauguration of the second Republic here because if you look closely at where this president is claiming his legal powers, it completely redefines the powers of the American government."

Simpson agrees.

"This provides a rationale for the expansion of presidential power in wartime," he says.

"Many people question the rationale, but the argument is that these powers are needed because we are at war.

"If it is a Long War, it means that they will be needed not just this year, but next year and for decades. This is a fundamental change in U.S. policy."

Although the first use of the term "Long War" is credited in 2004 to Gen. John Abizaid, the U.S. Central Command chief, it really had its public coming-out Jan. 31 in the U.S. president's State of the Union address.

"Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy," Bush said.

Then, in the Pentagon's Quadrennial Policy Review, the equivalent of a Canadian defence paper, the term was put into official use as a new name for a war that demanded a new strategy.

"This war, like the Cold War before it, will be a struggle against a hateful ideology that has attempted to hijack Islam for its nefarious purposes," U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

"Just as the West prevailed in the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, free nations will prevail in the long war against violent extremism."

The Pentagon says it chose the name to indicate the generational nature of the battle against Islamist extremists and the need for the American population to show patience and maintain resolve.

"It will be a long war," said U.S. Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker. "We are now in the business of ... learning and adapting to the world we are entering.

"It's going to require a whole different set of dance steps to be able to operate in a way that we will need to."

James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, can also lay claim to helping coin the phrase, using it in the title of a book he co-wrote last year, Winning The Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom.

"I don't think the War on Terror meant anything to anybody any more," he says.

"This is easier for people to wrap their heads around. It's not dumbing it down necessarily, but it gets to the essence of what we're talking about."

In fact, Carafano says, Pentagon officials toyed with the idea of renaming their struggle The Protracted War.

"`Protracted' is a five-dollar word," he says. "`Long' is a 25-cent word. So they went with that."

One thing all questioned agreed upon is that wars need names, even if they are not named until after they are over.

"The names define what they are all about," Pike says.

No one, to be sure, dubbed it The Hundred Years War at the outset and the Thirty Years War was a series of wars, not three decades of unbroken hostilities.

To this day, there is debate over who coined the phrase Cold War, with credit sometimes given to author George Orwell, journalist Walter Lippmann and British prime minister Winston Churchill.

There was even debate in Washington over what to call World War II. The moniker was officially accepted Sept. 11, 1945, by U.S. president Harry Truman. But in Russia, World War II is known as the Great Patriotic War. In Japan, it's the Great Pacific War.

Closer to home, Pike says, the U.S. Civil War is known as such in the northern states, but in his home of Alabama, it is often called The War of Northern Aggression.

The Long War has also been applied to the 16th century struggle between the Habsburg monarchy and the Ottoman Empire.

"I believe they don't want this to be defined as a conventional war where the entire burden will fall on the military and they will be expected to win quickly, which is impossible," says Max Boot, a senior analyst in national security studies at the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations.

Indeed, gone is any of the talk of quick victory that preceded the Iraqi invasion. Almost three years later, the war has taken nearly 2,300 American lives and 136,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. Although there is every expectation of a drawdown to about 100,000 troops this year, an American presence is anticipated in the country for perhaps a decade.

Now, the talk is about long struggles against the "isms." Just as previous wars fought communism and fascism, this war is all about combating radical Islamism, Rumsfeld says.

This year's $550 billion (U.S.) military budget proposed by Bush does try to re-emphasize quick strike forces, unmanned intelligence drones and more "psychological operations" troops, the "hearts and minds" personnel.

But the quadrennial defence plan has been widely criticized for too much spending on high-tech military toys and not enough on personnel.

In fact, as Boot says, the U.S. active army would shrink over five years under the plan, bringing the total to 482,400 by 2011 down from 710,000 in 1991.

"Why is the Pentagon still throwing money into high-tech gadgets of dubious utility while ignoring the glaring imperative for more boots on the ground?" he asks. "Part of the answer may be politics big-ticket weapons have more champions on Capitol Hill than do ordinary grunts."

It all adds up to a strategic miscalculation if the Pentagon is intent on fighting, not merely naming, a long war, he says.


One thing bothers me about your perspective, Dave 12.Feb.2006 19:38

Same best song/ worst Foreign Secy picks

Of course it would be a huge mistake for the US to attack Iran, for most of the reasons cited by Dave and the previous commenters. I doubt that these commando squads Dave warns of would materialize, but an attack on Iran would galvanize the Islamic world against the US and "Christendom" even much more than it already is.

Ever since Khomeini, Iran has been trying to lay claim to leadership among Islamic nations.The only countries whose governments claim to be as Islamic as Iran's are Saudi Arabia and the Sudan, so an attack on any of them would be seen as a much more direct attack on Islam than the invasion of Iraq was. As a result of any such aggression we would probably see many more small-scale attacks in the US and Europe of the Madrid and London type, coming not just from known Iran-linked groups, but from a variety of would-be al Qaeda affiliates, Muslim Brotherhood cells, Filipino, Indonesian & Malaysian Muslim separatists, even Palestinians, North Africans and Syrians who have basically secular grievances with the West. That diversity would make it very hard to stop. Big operations against nuclear plants, major dams and 911-style plots are too difficult in the present hyper-vigilant atmosphere, although if biological weapons became available, large numbers could die from very small-scale plots.

The bigger danger is that we would be taking another big step towards the very "clash of civilizations" with Islam that people like Samuel Huntington and Daniel Pipes have been simultaneously warning us about and eagerly pushing us towards.

What bothers me is that the disdain you, Dave, have for Iraqi and Arab nationalism, combined with your enthusiasm for Iranian nationalism, reveals that you share the very same prejudices about the Arab world that the aforementioned Pipes and Huntington have, which you also share with other Iraq warhawks like Bernard Lewis, Christopher Hitchens, Peter Galbraith, Richard Perle, Bibi Netanyahu and several million other racist trouble makers I could list if I had a mind to.Or President Ahmadinejad and his string-pullers, for that matter.

While nearly 90% of Iranians share the Shi'ite religion of the clerical hierarchy that has come to dominate their government and economy (through brutality and force) over the course of the last 27 years, the ethnic and tribal diversity of Iran is much greater than that of Iraq. 25% of Iranians are non-Persian Azebaijani, 8% are Sunni/Sufi Kurds (a numerically larger Kurdish population than Iraq's), 5% are Arabs, Mazandarani/Gilaki, Baloch, Turkmen and Luri account for another good 15% of Iranians. The term Iran means Aryan, and was adopted as the name of the country only in the 1930s by the last Shah's father, who was an admirer of Nazi racial theory. Traditionally Iran's nationalism was Persian nationalism, but strictly speaking Persians are barely half the population. They "held the country together by brutality and force". In contrast, Iraq is 80% Arab, 15% Kurdi, with small percentages of turkic and Assyrian groups.

All of that is not to say that it should be a goal of US policy to support ethnic or religious separatist movements in Iran, to invade it, partition it, federate it, foment civil war or do anything which would disturb the unity and balance of the country. In other words, I agree with Dave, we shouldn't treat Iran like we treated Iraq. We haven't and we won't.Turkey is another very ethnically diverse country in the neihborhood with a huge Kurdish minority, and Turkey is held together at times by tremendous brutality and force. Even though Turkey is really the key to solving the Kurdish problem, the US will never destabilize it or force it to partition itself.Because Israel wouldn't like it - it's not an Arab country. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, that's a different matter.

An analyst with an ounce of empathy for Arab Iraqis would notice that Iraq wasn't so much cobbled-up by Great Britain as the Ottoman Empire was split-up, in direct violation of repeated solemn promises made by Britain and France to the "liberated" Ottoman subjects not to divide them. This colonial betrayal and division accounts for the power vacuum and the legitimacy deficit that afflicts all of the former Ottoman Arab states.

Iraq is no more a colonial construct than Syria, Palestine, Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and much less of a colonial construct than Israel, Kuwait or Lebanon. Unlike any of their neighbors Iraqis suffer an extra colonial insult any time they look at a map of their country.The British colonialists who drew so many borders in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa were notorious for their thoughtlessness, but in the case of Iraq's funnel-shaped design, which imposed a huge strategic and economic handicap on the country by depriving it of any practical seaport - a penalty which not even the tiniest of Iraq's neighbors has to endure - you have to ask, what WERE they thinking?

Sorry to belabor the point, Dave, but I think that even as the Middle East rushes after Iran into the bloody void of religious identity, it may be worthwhile to look backwards for a way out.

. 12.Feb.2006 22:47

S

First - Iran says they are not developing nuclear weapons and there is no clear evidence that they are. Why does nearly everyone, even critics, assume the U.S. government is telling the truth? The U.S. government said the same damn thing about Iraq. How many times are they going to be able to tell the same lies?

Second - Iran can simply stop selling oil to the US and Europe which would rock the world economy. Iran has also said if they are attacked they will block the Straits of Hormuz where 25% of the worlds oil passes through.

If the US attacks Iran, $3 per gallon gas will look cheap.

Possible attacks within the US, targeting of US commercial shipping and other repercussions of a US attack on Iran are all possible, but the loss of self respect and spiritual/moral integrity should not go unmentioned. If the US air assault goes ahead, and particularly if the planned use of nuclear weapons occurs, it will, as they say in Star Wars, be the point at which the turn to the dark side is complete.