Is war with Iran imminent? My ten reasons not to attack Iran revisited
There’s news today about a report concerning US preparations to attack Iran. I’ve been sort of quietly hoping that the whole issue will go away. The US can’t really be seriously considering attacking Iran, can they? If the report is to be believed, preparations are well under way for a massive aerial assault on Iran that will not only destroy Iran’s known nuclear facilities, it will also largely destroy the Iranian military and government. The goal would be to prevent Iran from getting a bomb, destroy any Iranian capability for retaliation, and so weaken the Iranian regime that it might be overthrown from within, or at least weakened so badly that it is no longer a regional threat. That’s the optimistic plan at least.
I still hope we don’t attack Iran, but anything is possible. It would be consistent with history and the Bush administration to up the ante so to speak, and it wouldn’t be the first time in history that the US expanded a war that was going badly in a misguided effort to improve the situation. Bush threatening Iran and invoking the holocaust doesn’t reassure me. These threats are simply the latest in what has been obviously concerted campaign to blame our problems in Iraq on Iran. Despite an almost complete lack of proof, and tons of proof that insurgents are getting most of their foreign help from Saudi Arabia.
So frankly, my concern levels are rising again. I have decided to revisited and expand my post of almost a year ago listing ten reasons not to attack Iran. My original reasons are listed below, with today’s addendum in italics.
- Iran has thousands if not tens of thousands of missiles to fire back, think Hezbollah on steroids. This hasn’t changed, thousands of Iranian missiles hitting the green zone and oil facilities in the gulf states and Saudi Arabia would be a non-trivial problem.
- The Shiites in Iraq would almost certainly turn on us, think Iraqi insurgency getting three or four times bigger. Again, want to find out what would happen if the Iranians did everything they could to support insurgents in Iraq? Attacking Iran will do the trick. Even if one thinks they are already helping Iraqi insurgents, if we attack them they can help openly without restriction.
- Other key American allies such as Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia could easily be swept away by fundamentalist revolutions. Well, Turkey would have to be added to this list now.
- The price of oil would spike, which means the cost of gas could easily double. Again, large scale war in the Persian Gulf could do far more than double the price of gas.
- Shock and Awe doesn’t work. Bombing Iran will no more make Iranians our compliant friends than 9-11 made Americans rush out and urge surrender to Bin Laden. I am planning a post on the “bombing myth” in the USA, Americans tend to wildly over estimate what can be accomplished with bombing.
- Islamic extremists everywhere would be empowered and legitimized by further proof that Bush’s “war on terror” is just a euphemism for “war on Islam.” OK, this is just an extension of number three in a way, but the point remains valid. OBL has persuaded a few losers on the west to undertake amateur terror attacks, some with deadly result. We need more of this?
- Our friends would think less of us, and our “friends” Russia and China would be encouraged to solve their international “problems” the same way. If anything, this item has gotten stronger and more relevant. Want to make the Russian/Chinese alliance stronger? Attacking Iran will do the trick.
- Other countries would have strong incentive to develop nuclear weapons themselves to deter US attack. Not that they don’t already have such incentive, heck, since I wrote this North Korea was rewarded for developing nukes.
- People would die, lots of people, innocent people. This is important. Still is.
- Worst of all, another war would mean giving Bush more powers. And if we give Bush any more powers, he’s going to start appearing in public in tights. No one wants that. I still stand by this, though it’s getting harder to make jokes about this situation.
All of the above aside, my current thinking is that there are three main reasons not to attack Iran. The first is that the case for war with Iran is based on some very questionable premises, more about that in a subsequent blog. The second is that major wars always have unintended consequences, they never turn out the way that was confidently predicted. The third and most important reason is that thepeople who conceived of and are planning this war, are the very same people who conceived of and planned the war on Iraq. Remember that? The cheap relatively bloodless war where the Iraqis were going to welcome us with open arms as liberators and democracy would flow through the streets of the Middle East.
We already know what’s flowing through the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan, adding Iran to the list is going to help?
(The above image of the Banberry US nuclear weapons test was produced by the US government and is public domain under US copyright law. I used it because it illustrates that the world is big and bomb explosions are small, and that even carefully planned things can go wrong…this underground nuclear test was not supposed to vent fallout like this. Lastly to remind people that this could be a nuclear war, I don’t think anyone wants that either.)