“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
– George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq
Now that it is clear that China and Russia will block any meaningful sanctions against Iran, there are compelling strategic reasons why the United States might participate with Israel in a massive joint air assault on Iran this summer. But, as you will see if you read on, don’t hold your breath.
Israel rightly sees its survival at stake. The government of Iran, which has publicly announced its intention to wipe her off the face of the earth, moves inexorably closer to developing a nuclear weapon.
The idea that Iran needs nuclear energy for domestic economic reasons is almost laughable. Strategic analyst, Joel Waterman, points out that Iran produces only 30% of her own finished petroleum products, this because she lacks refinery capacity. “You just can’t take raw crude oil out of the ground and operate ships and planes and autos.” So Iran is in the unique position of exporting crude oil and then importing it back as refined oil. By far the most important future economic investment for Iran should be the development and expansion of her own refining industry.
It is no big secret. Iran wants nuclear power to go to war. Read the speeches of her politicians. It is almost Hitler encore. His plan was there for all to read, including German living space in the East and the destruction of the Jews. And no one wanted to believe it. It was absurd to the point of embarrassing. Sensible people bought Mein Kampf to be informed but no one read it or talked about it aloud. Absurd or not, Iran and its leaders have publicly called for the annihilation of the Jewish people, a chilling proposition.
Iran recently tested its new medium range missiles, well within striking distance of Israel. This is excused by the New York Times as only saber rattling to forestall any joint US-Israeli action?
America is in no mood for this crisis. She seems to have expended all of her international energy in Iraq. Why do we have to be involved? We have already alienated most of the world with what is seen as our impertinent action in Iraq. If Israel is really threatened, why couldn’t she go it alone and show that this is not more American Imperialism at work? She recently took care of Syria on her own. And she took out Saddam Hussein’s Franco-nuclear program in 1981.
The problem is that Iran’s nuclear facilities are partially built underground. Only American strategic bombers and American bunker buster ordinance can do the necessary damage. It may come as a surprise to many that the Israeli air force has no strategic bombers. Yes, it has those famous fleets of fighters and has demonstrated that they are among the best in the world. Their recent rehearsal showed that they have not lost their touch. It ain’t easy putting 100 fighter aircraft in the air on a coordinated mission.
And Iran has formidable anti-aircraft weaponry. It will take waves of American unmanned drones with ability to detect heat patterns, light emanations and movement, allowing us to identify and locate the coordinates for the Iranian anti aircraft batteries and missile sites. And finally, Iran has reportedly placed 13,000 missiles in Hezbollah hands in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. The attack on Iran would have to be massive and complete and Israel could not do it alone and expect to survive unscathed.
The flow of oil would be interrupted. Causing a worldwide shortage, further exasperating world economies. That’s why it would have to happen this summer. Action in the fall or winter would leave homes across Europe and North America without heat and threaten the survival of many.
Of course, Iran would suffer the most in such an exchange but Iran’s fanatic leaders seem willing to turn their country into one giant suicide bomber. They might not care how much they suffer if they can destroy their enemy, the men, women and children of Israel. She would surely attempt to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and she could try to invade Iraq to bleed our boots on the ground there, even at the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of her own boys. America’s air attack would have to be complete. It would have to shut down Iran and destroy her ability to meaningful retaliation. And it would be expensive.
On such a mission, American could not trust another country except Israel itself. Seeking help or fly-over permission would be tantamount to announcing our coming to Iran.
But will it happen?
Don’t count on it. This is not Iraq. The president has nothing personal at stake here. Saddam Hussein had ordered the assassination of the president’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush, remember? The president does. And so we invaded Iraq to make the world a safer place for Bushes. If it were about tyrants we would move now on Mugabe, just as we would have moved on Pol Pot in years past. (Pol Pot survived four American presidents, including Ronald Reagan.) If it were about nuclear power, we would have moved on North Korean or Iran, whose pursuit of WMD has been no secret, not Iraq who bid us no harm.
Shortly before the invasion of Iraq, in one last meeting, the president polled each of his cabinet officers one by one. “Is this personal? Is this personal?”
“No,” they replied one by one.
What an odd question. Why could it possibly be personal to the Secretary of Agriculture that we invade Iraq?
There was only one person in the room who could have said “yes” to that question and he was the one who was asking it.
It will be hard for George W. Bush to order the attack on Iran. The world will be against him. There will be outrage. The American economy will drop like a rock into certain recession or worse. A Democrat will be elected president. Only Israel and people of sound judgment and eventually history, itself, will see the courage and necessity of such an action. But if it was wrong to exaggerate the threat of Iraq and invade the country to settle a family score, it is equally wrong to ignore the very real threat of Iran and what she will do to innocent millions if she has nuclear weapons.
The problem is that all the words that describe this moment have already been used up in the adventure that took us to Baghdad.
“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us,” George W. Bush once said, about Iraq. “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
But it is very possible that we will do just that, “ignore the threat gathering against us.” The time to act is weeks away and it appears that the president just can’t do it. This is the cry wolf story on a massive, tragic, strategic scale. Obama will not likely risk his worldwide popularity to deal with Iran. He has already announced he will “meet” with them. And so the lingering threat will gather against us and the day will grow nearer when the suicide bomber will be more than a woman, taking out a bus on an Israeli street corner, it will be a nation, taking out a nation.
History will not say that this president tried to deal with Fundamentalist Islamic terrorism but was all alone, a man ahead of his time. They will say, he attacked Iraq for personal reasons and got caught in the act and then let the real threat build next door in Iran and did nothing to stop it. If he delays, he will share blame in whatever happens with an Obama administration. If he acts now, he will be vilified and castigated and driven from office with outrage but he may be forgiven for Iraq and redeemed by history.