Sunday, January 7, 2007

Iran War: the preliminary operations

I've been hoping that a Cheney-Bush administration attack on Iran was avoidable.  The way Sam Gardiner lays out the current situation in this paper makes me think the decision has been made to go to war: The End of the "Summer of Diplomacy": Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran (2006).

An aggressive antiwar push by Congress could stop it.

Does it makes sense?  Absolutely not.  But, as Gardiner writes:

Unfortunately, the military option does not make sense. When I discuss the possibility of an American military strike on Iran with my European friends, they invariably point out that an armed confrontation does not make sense - that it would be unlikely to yield any of the results that American policymakers do want, and that it would be highly likely to yield results that they do not. I tell them they cannot understand U.S. policy if they insist on passing options through that filter.  The "making sense" filter was not applied over the last four years for Iraq, and it is unlikely to be applied in evaluating whether to attack Iran.  (my emphasis)

He writes:

From diplomacy to sanctions, the administration is not making good-faith efforts to avert a war so much as going through the motions, eliminating other possible strategies of engagement, until the only option left on the table is the military one.

Gardiner doesn't use the word, but he makes it sound like the advocates of war are just carried away by fanaticism:

If this uncertainty does not appear to worry the proponents of air strikes in Iran it is in no small part because the real U.S. policy objective is not merely to eliminate the nuclear program, but to overthrow the regime. It is hard to believe, after the misguided talk prior to Iraq of how American troops would be greeted by flowers and welcomed as liberators, but those inside and close to the administration who are arguing for an air strike against Iran actually sound as if they believe the regime in Tehran can be eliminated by air attacks. ...

It sounds simple. Air planners always tell a good story. By the same token, they almost always fall short of their promises, even in strictly military terms. That was true in World War II. It was true in Korea. It was true in Vietnam. It has just proved true with the Israeli attacks on Hezbollah. No serious expert on Iran believes the argument about enabling a regime change [via air power]. On the contrary, whereas the presumed goal is to weaken or disable the leadership and then replace it with others who would improve relations between Iran and the United States, it is far more likely that such strikes would strengthen the clerical leadership and turn the United States into Iran's permanent enemy.  (my emphasis)

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