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To Nuke or not to Nuke? That is the question

by William Bowles • Friday, 2 March, 2007
  

“All options are on the table” president Bush

For well over a year now pundits on both the left and the right have been telling us that the US/Israel Axis is about to bomb/invade Iran; those on the right say it with glee and on the left with understandable fear of the consequences, not only for the unfortunate Iranian people but for the entire planet.

But just like ‘peak oil’, Der Tag keeps on getting pushed forward. Now why it’s correct to make people aware of what kind of aggressive, war-mongering government we have ensconced in Washington DC, it is also incumbent upon us to try and analyse the strategies of the imperialists and to try and assess their effectiveness and realisability. So is an attack on Iran immanent?

What are the options open to the US? What would they stand to gain from ‘taking out’ Iran? Most importantly, is the US able to extend its wars of acquisition Eastward? In other words does it possess both the military and political power to invade Iran? And what of the consequences?

On the one hand it could be argued that the US is not planning an actual invasion, it’s primary objective would be to reduce Iran to a pile of radioactive rubble, or at least its nuclear facilities, something only a combined nuclear, ‘conventional’ attack could achieve and it’s a strategy fraught with all manner of unknowns, not the least of which would be the reaction of countries such as Russia and China which have close economic and political ties to Iran.

The first problem with this scenario is that radiation doesn’t recognise national boundaries, a nuclear attack would inevitably lead to the ultimate in ‘blowbacks’ only this time, literally. Even if a ‘tactical’ nuclear strike is contemplated (is there such an animal?), the radiation released from both US weapons and Iran’s nuclear facilities would in all likelyhood make much of the region uninhabitable, including most probably Israel. Talk of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons obscures the real nature of nuclear weapons’ indiscriminate effects. The results just don’t bear thinking about.

A ‘conventional surgical strike’: assuming Israel’s involvement it would almost inevitably lead to Iranian retaliation and Israel being a very small country both economically and physically, unless the war was of extremely short duration, it would in all likelyhood lead to severe damage if not destruction, obviously not a scenario that either the US or Israel would approve of. And any retaliatory attack on Israel would inevitably involve the US in a regional war which could quickly spiral out of control.

Talk of a ‘Tonkin Gulf’ type provocation has been bandied about as the trigger for such a scenario and indeed, the propaganda emanating from Washington about Iranian weapons alleging the cause of the deaths of 170 US servicemen in Iraq would appear to support this. However, unlike the WMD scenario that led to the invasion of Iraq, such claims have been met with a great degree of scepticism even in the mainstream media. If the intention was to justify a replay of the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq, so far it has not had the desired effect.

Are US/Israeli threats a gigantic and extremely dangerous bluff? Let’s imagine one possible outcome: Iran capitulates and agrees to stop enriching uranium, but once Iran’s ‘nuclear threat’ is removed, what does the US do next? Regime change is the stated objective of the US, thus abandoning its ‘nuclear ambitions’ as the West describes it, would not satisfy the US. This would leave the US in the position of either accepting the existing status quo or of mounting a follow-up invasion and occupation or perhaps instigating some kind of coup d’etat. Either way, it would inevitably drag the US into a wider regional war, one it can ill afford at the present time.

Iran would still possess nuclear facilities and a large military capacity including medium and long range missiles as well as its awesome Russian supersonic cruise missiles, which if deployed could do some serious damage to the two US fleets (soon to be three) stationed in the region. Again, short of a total nuclear blitzkrieg, the US would have no option other than to invade and occupy Iran, something it is not in a position to do. It’s already fighting wars on two fronts and one assumes they’ve read their Clausewitz.

Then there is the US military high command who according to some reports don’t appear to be too keen on the idea and for obvious reasons. Already overstretched, attacking Iran doesn’t make much military sense given its other commitments and involvements.

In addition, there are serious divisions emerging within the ruling US political class between the so-called neo-cons and what are dubbed the ‘realists’, led, it appears, by Zbegniew Brezinski who is reported as saying that the invasion of Iraq was

‘a historic, strategic, and moral calamity … driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris.’

The problem with this approach is that ‘imperial hubris’ as a basis for a consistent US strategic foreign policy that stretches back over half-a-century is not borne out by the facts. Far from being a failure, the invasion of Iraq has consumed vast amounts of surplus capital and has led to staggering profits not only for the military industry but also for Big Oil.

The destruction of Iraq has removed one major obstacle to Israel’s objectives of a ‘final solution’ to the Palestinian problem. Yet even here, Israel is no closer to realising its objectives of the creation of a Greater Israel. If anything, Israel’s destruction of Lebanon and threats of ‘taking out’ Syria have had the opposite effect. Israel now finds itself more isolated than at any period since its creation in 1948 (not that this has helped the besieged Palestinian people).

Israel’s role
The primary objective of the attack on Lebanon was to divert attention away from Israel’s onslaught on the Palestininan people which also coincided with the objective of diverting attention away from the situation in Iraq. All the evidence points to the fact that Israel’s attack on Lebanon was planned and sanctioned in Washington, not Tel Aviv.

But okay, let’s assume fot the sake of argument that the US is run by a clique of fanatical madmen intent on unleashing nuclear conflagration in order to fulfill its ‘End Days’ fantasy. Is it likely that the more sober-minded members of the US business and political elite, the ‘realists’, will allow such a scenario to unfold?

The problem with those who advocate the view that an invasion/attack on Iran is immanent is that it is based on the assumption that US policy is largely dictated by Israel and its gung ho supporters within the Bush administration.

Here’s what one writer has to say on the subject. Quoting an article in the Guardian,

‘If there were doubts as to the motives behind the Iraq war, there should be none when it comes to Iran. According to the Guardian, “Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney … US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage … the present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring.”’ — ‘Anyone Can Go To Baghdad; Real Men Go To Tehran’, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad. Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The major players behind this objective are all Zionists, closely allied to JINSA, AIPAC and other like-minded organisations. Now whilst there is no doubt that there are people close to Bush who are fanatical supporters of the Zionist state, it is important not to let the fundamental economic realities out of sight and to clearly separate public pronouncements from the real objectives of US capital which remain the same, namely maintaining US control of the global economy and especially the Middle East. Keeping the pot boiling has long been US strategy in the region. Self-interest always comes first.

If we can draw any conclusions from the situation in the Middle East it’s that the US has continued to employ the tried and tested method of divide and rule, and in so doing, maintain what is effectively a state of chaos, for regardless of the ‘failure’ of the Iraq adventure, unless a unified opposition is created, the US will maintain its foothold there. Why else build its largest foreign military base in the world in Iraq?

The US may well have miscalculated that an effective puppet government would remove the need for a countrywide military occupation and now tries to Balkanise the country instead. Whether this tactic will succeed depends on the degree to which the resistance can unify in its opposition to the occupation which in turn results in the US being physically driven from the country.

The ‘failure’ in Iraq is a failure only insofar as the US has failed to maintain domestic support for the occupation, mainly due to the large number of US casualties (Iraqi deaths don’t figure in the equation at all).

And whilst oil is not the only concern, it remains the major concern, for without oil it cannot maintain its vast military force. It should surely be obvious that oil and the military go hand-in-hand (the US military machine is the single largest consumer of oil in the world), and in turn, US military force is used to enforce its economic dominance either through its actual use or the threat of its use.

Thus when assessing the likelyhood of a US, or US/Israeli strike on Iran, I maintain that the Israeli lobby is not a significant factor, Israel plays the role of ‘cat amongst the pidgeons’ in maintaining chaos in the Middle East with Israel being used as a local Rottweiler, with the US constantly threatening to let it off the leash aka Lebanon.

We need to ask ourselves what would the US gain from attacking Iran given that an occupation is not a practical objective? Protecting Israel? Iran obviously has no intentions of attacking Israel in spite of all its (alleged) bellicose statements. To do so would be suicidal. Furthermore, destroying Iran would be counter-productive for Big Oil, as it would in all likelyhood put Iranian oil off limits for the forseeable future.

It can be argued that as the US doesn’t directly buy Iranian oil, an attack would deny it to the US’s major competitor, China. Could this be the basis for an attack on Iran? The major problem with this proposition is that China is the single largest repository of US dollars outside the US as well as being a major location of US foreign investment, attempting to destabilise the Chinese economy by denying it access to Iranian oil would seem to be counter-productive.

Curbing Iranian support for Hamas and Hizbollah? Hamas and Hizbollah may well be an irritant to Israel but neither pose a real threat to either the US or even to Israel, only united regional opposition can seriously challenge US/Israeli plans, a scenario that is unfortunately not currently realisable.

Thus whilst I do not rule out the possibility of some kind of limited military strike on Iran at some point in the future, I still maintain, just as I did a year ago, that the current conditions simply do not warrant a full scale assault. Furthermore, a ‘surgical strike’ on Iran’s nuclear facilities is fraught with all manner of uncertainties. Comparisons are made with Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear plant in the 1980s but is this a valid comparison? Iran is not Iraq, neither is Iran in a de facto state of war with Israel as Iraq was and in fact, Iran’s relationship to Israel is both murky and contradictory as the Iran-Contra events revealed.

There is only one possible scenario that could form the basis for an attack and that’s an engineered provocation but the idea has already been ‘floated’ through leaks to the media and the response has not been positive. It is a classic case of history repeating itself, the second time as farce.

There is no doubt that regime change in Iran is the primary US objective, a regime which would be compliant to the US just as the puppet government of Iraq is. But would a military assault on Iran achieve this end? I seriously doubt it, if anything it would reinforce the position of the conservative forces currently in power.

I contend that the current US strategy is proving unworkable and it is the main reason for the ‘realists’ popping out of the woodwork just as it is the major reason why the US is ratcheting up tensions as well as offering to engage in talks with Iran over Iraq, in the hope that one or the other of these strategies will work.

“… referring to India’s changing attitude towards non-proliferation, “[t]he best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA. I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced [by the US].”” — Stephen G. Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary for Non-proliferation and International Security at the U.S. State Department. ‘Evidence of US coercion of IAEA members against Iran revealed’.

The US and/or Israel will only risk an attack on Iran if they think firstly that it will achieve their aims and secondly if they think they can get away with it, which is why it’s vitally important to expose US objectives and especially the special role that Israel plays in US strategy in the region but to argue that US strategy is determined by Israel is a complete misreading of the relationship between the two countries.

So, will there be a ‘Spring offensive’ against Iran as some, including even some mainstream media reports, allege? An unprovoked attack on Iran would undoubtedly further isolate the US from the world community, further complicate its relations with the EU, Russia and China. It would also further diminish the US’s influence over world affairs, leading to it being even more isolated than it already is. If I’m wrong, then the US is even more desperate and its leaders even more out of touch with reality than any of us realise.

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