Middle East Conflict

Negotiations—or War With Iran?

October 23, 2012

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Negotiations—or War With Iran?

“It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven’t had such discussions,” said Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state in the Bush administration, of reports the Obama White House has agreed to one-on-one talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham dissented Sunday: “I think the time for talking is over. ... We talk, they enrich. It needs to stop. We need to have red lines coordinated with Israel and end this before it gets out of hand.”

Clearly, Graham believes an ultimatum, followed by an attack if Iran denies us “access to their nuclear program,” is the way to “end this.”

What kind of attack?

According to David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, U.S. and Israeli military authorities are discussing a joint attack, and the idea getting the most traction is “a U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities.”

“The strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve ‘a day or two’ overall, the source said, and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support.”

“Which raises the question. Why are we even talking about war? “

Smashing the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, writes Rothkopf, would mean “setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties.”

This would have “region-wide benefits,” writes Rothkopf.

“One advocate asserts it would be a ‘transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the (Persian) Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.’”

Thus, according to Rothkopf and his source, a U.S. attack on Iran’s enrichment facilities would produce the same glorious benefits we were promised if only we would invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has another view. “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could ... prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.” What consequences might Gates have in mind?

Iran might mine the Persian Gulf, sending ships to the bottom, halting traffic, doubling the price of oil and plunging Europe into the economic abyss on the edge of which the continent stands today.

U.S. ships might face swarm attacks from Iranian speedboats, forcing us to sink the Iranian Navy’s surface ships and destroy the hundreds of fast missile boats in the gulf and Iranian ports.

Iran could send its submarines out and fire its anti-ship missiles to sink a U.S. warship. Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Bahrain and the gulf region could ignite an all-out air and sea war, with the U.S. having to destroy Iranian air fields, antiaircraft and missile sites, and Iran’s remaining nuclear facilities.


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