April 23, 2005

Let's Go! Bomb Iran*

Mark Gaffney wants to know, will Iran be next? He covers the history of Iran's contentious nuclear energy program, begun when the Shah was in power and never finished.

Scott Ritter, speaking in a March 31, 2005 interview with Charles Goyette on Air America says that they've even got a date set for when they'd be ready to begin the arial bombardment of Iran. He describes this as "the worst kept secret in Washington," but nevertheless, one that the media won't touch.

The link will take you to a page where you can download the twenty minute interview in which Ritter explains that discussions are going on now about how to get Iraq stable enough to start withdrawing resources and engaging somewhere else. He explains that the date, this June, is the point at which Israel believes that Iran will have been able to complete their nuclear fuel cycle. He said that no one is talking about their actually having nuclear weapons which they plainly don't, just closing the loop on the fuel cycle. Towards the end, the discussion touches on a subject a caller brought up, that this July Iran is also considering switching to the euro for oil sales.

Goyette and Ritter also get onto the subject of John Bolton, whose purpose Ritter claims is to make a case for war with Iran and use any refusal as a tool to destroy the UN and paint it as useless. It'd be nice if Ritter was listened to this time around, and we didn't have to watch the whole sorry spectacle play out like a slow motion video of an automobile crash test.

I haven't (and at present likely won't) had time to take a transcript, but there's no filler in this interview, and you should really, really just listen to the whole thing. But I will attempt to further entice you with the quote posted with the audio file:

"The President has signed off on military preparation that will have the U.S. ready to attack Iran via massive aerial bombardment in June 2005."

Iran is a country that's been at war recently enough that its generation of veterans is still middle-aged. They've got the ability to conscript millions, and they wouldn't have all that much draft-dodging if they did. They can close off the Straits of Hormuz, and they're within easy missile reach of other oilfields that we depend on. They could also, and this is no small thing, easily double the level of chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan if they chose to. So far they haven't, but there's always tomorrow to look forward to.

It's a country that managed to rebuild after almost a decade of war to the point where their economy is one of the few genuine bright spots in the world. It's a country that used to depend on western contractors to do almost everything for them, much like Saudi Arabia today, and now they've learned to do most things for themselves.

We'll bomb their silly little buildings, and then I think that our government may learn something that no one else has been able to teach them, neither by good example or bad. They haven't learned it in the process of valuing their own citizens, or in watching the progress of other nations. They haven't learned it from the Iranian student who spent five laborious years putting together the shredded CIA code books destroyed in haste in 1979, from the 'low cost, high concept' terrorist attacks of 9/11.

We'll bomb the reactors, after which I fear that Iran will find a way to demonstrate that real wealth and true security resides in the knowledge, imagination, commitment, and resilience of the people on your team. No amount of money can replace it, nor easily secure against it. Those people have had it hard in ways most Americans can't imagine. They're more nationalistic, more resentful of foreign interference, and they've already had practice in their lifetimes rebuilding after dire calamity. We'd be as tough if we'd been through all that, but most of us haven't, so we aren't. We'll be like one of the Walton heirs declaring a shooting war on the Crips, making a tragic error of underestimation and miscalculation, and it just won't be pretty no matter what the eventual outcome.

And it does not, does not, have to go this way. The Islamic Revolution was a quarter century ago, most of the top clericts involved are either dead or headed there with a quickness, and it is time to face the future. The government of Iran is one of the most treaty-making nations on the face of the planet. They've also been cooperating with more stringent IAEA inspection regimes than they signed on to in the first place. Economic partrership with them could single-handedly save our economy through a wealth of profitable contracts (Boeing could rise again, and the resource extraction industry would make a killing, all just from Iran), and take away the Ayatollahs' single most important political issue: the perception that the US is an imminent threat that only their staunch opposition can hold at bay.

They aren't an especially nice country in other ways, but I think they're a good few rungs up the ladder from Uzbekistan, and run a more tolerant and humane society than China. They haven't started wars with other countries, keep their hands to themselves border-wise, and show no interest in exchanging those policies for territorial expansionism. Further, as associates, it seems it would be a lot easier to convince Iran that there was no strategic need for them to invest in groups like Hezbollah.

The Europeans have been mostly at peace with them for some time, and what I hear they've gotten out of the deal is a) richer, and b) another nice vacation spot. If Iran were moved from the 'Axis of Evil' side of the equation towards the trading partner side, they rank in terms of general conduct above the majority of the African and Central Asian countries we deal with, above a fair chunk of South American dictatorships, and manage to run things better than some of our best buds in Asia. I mean, you want to talk about bad behavior, explain to me first why China's sponsorship of murderous Maoist rebels in Nepal and ongoing genocide and cruelty in Tibet is just no big deal. Explain to me why it isn't more important to look at the government sponsored and/or tolerated paramilitary death squads roaming Colombia or other countries in Latin America.

But no, Iran is so uniquely horrible that it justifies another war where maybe 100,000 more civilians who didn't have a whole lot of say in their government could lose their lives. So intrinsically evil they are that these idiots think maybe we should throw away the lives of more American soldiers to maiming, severe head trauma, psychiatric breakdowns, or death's unyielding door. Not that it wasn't clear that the little people, either on their side or the enemy's, are just meaningless pawns to them. Worthless and valueless, with nothing to contribute but strong backs, compliance, or death in the cause. These raging arseholes think nothing of setting in motion the murder of thousands so they don't have to fight the harder battle of making a world where we can all live out our lives in peace and see what could best be made of them, just like they want for their kids.


At least we, by which I mean people who think it isn't such a good time to start another pre-emptive war (particularly considering how the wars on either side of the proposed target went, and considering that this one would have even less justification than the last one, etc.), won't have to do that much work coming up with fresh protest songs. I know that the talented among us will do it anyway, but if you're lazy in that direction like me, there are a bunch of perfectly good ditties made up for the Iraq war in which we only have to change one letter and it still almost rhymes. Like this one:

My old man, he had oil...
so I'd never have to toil!
With a knick-knack, bomb Iran
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president! ...

Or this old classic:

... So here's one fer dear ol daddy, bomb Iran
From his favorite little laddy, bomb Iran
Though we can't think of a reason
Standing down just seems like treason
Hey! It's people-hunting season! Bomb Iran!

We'll sing them to cheer each other up (heh heh, see, perkier here already) while your eagerly awaited apocalypse progresses towards its exciting conclusion. Bastards.

* Yes, the title of the post is a rip-off of the Daily Show's rip-off of the popular travel book series.

Posted by natasha at April 23, 2005 02:51 AM | International | Technorati links |

Attacking Iran will make Iraq look like a stroke of brilliance. First, they will strike back hard. Second, we will be shoving them firmly in the wrong direction, when, now, they are slowly moving closer and closer to a less confrontational stance. The increased terrorism we brought about in Iraq will be small compared to what will result from Iran's attack. The world will turn on us completely and we will accomplish nothing positive.

The disaster that would be an attack on Iran would be epic, and without ANY justification.

Posted by: Scott at April 23, 2005 06:45 AM

Even Britain has said that they absolutely and in no way will have anything to do with attacking Iran. If we go in, our only backup will be Israel, and I can't think that in the long run it's the healthiest thing for them.

Which reminds me of something else Ritter said, which is that a US official was heard saying that Israel can't be the one to bomb Iran *first*.

Posted by: natasha at April 23, 2005 08:52 AM

My two bits...

I think the nitwits in charge think they can pull a variation of Cambodia 1970. Bomb enough of the country to initiate a revolution in America's favor at best, and knock out nuclear capability at worst. A surgical strike on nuclear facilities, which they could at least potentially sell to the larger public, isn't apparently in the cards, and all the more an additional link in a chain of stupid decisions.

Instead of dividing the country, though, Iranians will unite against the nation they both fear and envy the most.

And I think a reenactment of the Yalu river will come next. If we're lucky.

If we aren't, the results in the Arabian Gulf and the resulting xenophobia in this country will be disastrous.

Posted by: palamedes at April 23, 2005 11:34 AM

Oh, and if you think Muslims will be treated like dirt if Iran sends our economy into a tailspin, if it's ever believed by a fair chunk of the American public that Israel led us by the nose into Iran, you can say hello to a level of anti-Semitism like you wouldn't believe.

Posted by: Palamedes at April 23, 2005 11:39 AM

One point I want to make on what our Iran policy should be. Don't underestimate the good oil embargos can do. The most enlightened countries in the middle east (Jordan, Turkey, Morroco) are ones whose economy is not based on oil. Oil gives a lot of power to a few people and is great for authoritarian governments because they become less affected by the well-being of most of their citizens. Oil embargos worked wonders in Libya, accomplished much more than we like to admit in Iraq, and have significantly weakened the clerics in Iran and are a big part of the reason for the progress that has been made there.

My proposal is to lift travel restrictions and trade restrictions on everything but oil (perhaps in exchange for handing over some terrorists) and maybe give aid for things like education, things that strengthen the middle class. We need to as much as possible keep everyone else on board with the oil embargo as this must be the last thing to go. It should be contingent on every reasonable demand we could make -- no working with Hizbollah, no human rights violations, no WMD, or no one buys their oil.

Posted by: Eric L at April 23, 2005 01:44 PM

Are you kidding me? You think we can put a worldwide oil embargo on Iran? That's just a whole new category of not going to happen.

Do you seriously think that countries like China and India care even one little bit whether or not we want to embargo Iran? That proposal would be DOA at the Security Council, and I doubt you could even get Europe on board. We are really isolated on this one. Really isolated.

Embargoes are generally stupid anyway as a long-term plan. All they do is make the general public poorer, and ensure the longevity and corrupt enrichment of tyrant governments. You think the embargo against Libya worked, but Qaddafi is still in power, and all he had to do was issue an apology and make a payoff. And I think the US blinked first, because he'd announced that old US contract rights in their oilfields were due to expire shortly if the sanctions didn't come off.

Sanctions haven't worked with Cuba, they worked for crap in Iraq, and I don't see that they'd do anything to Iran other than demonstrate our hostility to their people and pull them closer together. Just as our long restriction on allowing Iran to buy civilian aircraft or replacement parts has only united them in opposition, an oil embargo would be no more useful.

And again, us and what army is going to impose these restrictions?

Posted by: natasha at April 23, 2005 02:52 PM

And we aren't even discussing natural gas. India and Iran apparently have a recent deal inked that will create a natural gas pipline between the two countries.

Posted by: palamedes at April 23, 2005 06:30 PM

If we attack Iran, the resultant chaos in oil markets may just be enough to shatter the entire world's economic system. With the world passing Peak Oil production, a supply disruption on that scale would create a massive shortage of petroleum around the world and leave us all fighting for scraps.

Posted by: Roy Smith at April 28, 2005 09:12 PM