Pondering Iran

Man am I ever sorry I am not going to Iran now. The visa request is still out there and who knows, it might get approved before Christmas. I’m not sure where to start, as I feel like I’ve consumed a great deal of information about the situation today and know that more is to come.

First, let us dispose of the key question, why now? John answers:

The answer is that Iran is a convenient way for the Bush administration to get America’s attention off of the Iraq debacle, rising gas prices, Valerie Plame, New Orleans lost, Republican corruption, the massive budget deficit, and a growing number of revelations of how Bush lied to the American people in trying to sell them on the Iraq war.


more after the jump

Second, let’s all be clear on something: attacking Iran, even pinprick bombing, equals war. Going to war against Iran is crazy talk. It’s that simple. It’s nuts.

But suppose for a moment we do attack Iran, what next? Game it out. What happens? What do we do? What happens when Shi’ites erupt in Basra? When Muqtada al-Sadr’s bully boys start taking cheap shots at our boys in Baghdad? What happens to our interests in Afghanistan? (Yeah, you forgot that the Iranians have serious interests there.) What happens if we use a nuke? Think it through, ya know. Go all the way. Because there isn’t a conservative on this planet who’s answered this question sufficiently. Sorry, bombing them back ‘to the stone age’ simply isn’t an option. No sane human being wishes to ponder the consequences of turning Iran into a sheet of glass. Like I said, “it’s nuts.”

Moreover, with what army are we to do this? I’ve talked with generals and colonels about this. Real ones, not the ones who play general on their blog. There is no army for this. It’s all locked up in Iraq. Repeatedly I’ve been told, ” the generals will demand an immediate draft, a force of 500,000 to do the job right.” That’s a conservative estimate, too.

So, what do the Iranian’s want? Well, tomorrow I’ll try and tease out the complex nature of domestic Iranian politics. But if you want to cut to the chase, I’m convinced they want a deal. The evidence is there. The question is, is Bush capable of making a deal? Like Reagan did with the Soviets in ’86, who were a much, much greater threat, by the way.

Sadly, there really isn’t any precendent for this. Look at North Korea, where we outsourced our foreign policy to the Chinese. We’ve already postponed talks with Iran as well.

As to claims that Iran can have a nuke in 16 days? I think Richard Armitage knows a little more about Iran’s nuclear situation than Capt. Ed does. As Armitage says, “He said the administration could afford to be patient ”œfor a while” on Iran because Tehran would not have access to a nuclear weapon for some time, and also because the IAEA, Russians and Chinese were all putting pressure on the Islamist Republic.” (I prefer Dr. Cole’s wry humor, actually: Iran Can Now Make glowing Mickey Mouse Watches.

Still, the politics of fear have a good chance of edging out realism and patience on Iran. Why? Well, there is that little thing we call an election to be manipulated in November. Regardless, I’m not afraid. I’m not a bedwetter and I certainly don’t fear dhimmitude. That’s laughable.

More tomorrow.

~ Nota bene: Scott Shields addresses the whole 16 days steaming pile of horse doodie.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • Pinnochio noses to your representatives and senators, or better still make some up that are wearable. President Bush deserves to be laughed at. He has turned your country into a laughing stock with little credibility in the world.

    Graphic is from themoderatevoice.com

  • February 10, 2006


    There’s now a serious possibility that the Republicans could lose control of the House of Representatives this fall, and at least a statistical possibility that they could lose the Senate.

    Meanwhile, approval of the administration’s foreign policy, principally in regard to Iraq, has fallen well below 50% and continues to decline, while the Medicare drug fiasco has driven approval of their domestic policy, never high, to new lows. Moreover, the legal difficulties of the administration’s Gauleiters, notably Libby and Rove, are serious, and the bottom could fall out of the ramshackle structure that supports the administration’s felonious wiretapping (with some people thinking that there are further revelations to come about that curious episode: why did they bypass FISA, after all?). And it’s SRO in the closet for all the Abramoff skeletons.

    Cornered rats proverbially fight, however, and if things really get bad as 2006 goes on, with mid-term elections looming, the administration always has their ace in the hole: an emergency, preferably violent. (Imagine where the Bush administration would be, had there been no 9/11/01 attack.) Bush this week produced a suspect account of an almost-emergency, a putative foiled attack on Los Angeles in ’02. (Again, the question: why mention it now? Why didn’t they prosecute the conspirators at the time?)

    Andrew Cockburn has demonstrated in these pages why a full-scale attack on Iran (four times the size of Iraq and not defenseless, as Iraq was) is out of the question. But, acting on the advice of the Truman-era senator who observed that “You can do anything you want with the American people if you scare them enough,” the administration has been making headway among Americans with its scare campaign about Iran — despite the uncomfortable resemblance to the campaign for the Iraq invasion (madmen armed with nuclear weapons, etc.) As our boy emperor himself once memorably put it, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Perhaps not, but the administration is surely trying…

    But the administration may have choices other than a full-scale attack on Iran or an increasingly less credible viewing-with-alarm. If things get desperate enough that they need a military emergency to rally support for a beleaguered Bush and Co, there are things that they could do, short of all-out war. (In the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh has described military intrusions — “special operations” — by the U.S. and Israel that have been underway in Iran for some time; the administration’s new budget, just submitted to Congress, calls for a substantial increase in money for “special ops and psy-ops.”)

    John Pilger notes that, while the Pentagon cannot seriously plan to occupy Iran, it may be that “it has in its sights a strip of land that runs along the border with Iraq. This is Khuzestan, home to 90 per cent of Iran’s oil. ‘The first step taken by an invading force,’ reported Beirut’s Daily Star, ‘would be to occupy Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan Province, securing the sensitive Straits of Hormuz and cutting off the Iranian military’s oil supply.’ On 28 January the Iranian government said that it had evidence of British undercover attacks in Khuzestan, including bombings, over the past year.” Last year, the Iranian government announced that it would build the country’s second nuclear reactor in Khuzestan…

    A U.S. attack by land, sea, and/or air would of course be an act of desperation, driven as much or more by failing domestic politics as by America’s long-term policy to control Middle East energy resources. But given that the U.S. has malgre lui constructed a vast self-conscious Shi’ite region (Iran, Iraq, and the oil-producing parts of Saudi Arabia) that is at once in possession of most of the world’s oil and hostile to the U.S., a further attempt to control it in this fashion may recommend itself.

    Remember that the U.S. doesn’t need Mideast oil for its own consumption (one reason that Bush’s comments on it in the SOTU speech were so odd), but has for decades insisted on control of it as a way to control its major economic rivals, Europe and northeast Asia. The U.S. will not easily give up control of the spigot. And Khuzestan may be the handle of the spigot.

    Carl G. Estabrook is a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois.



    That link is dated February 2006. Believe it or not, but I would say there is a possibility this administration is crazy enough to initiate such a plan.

  • I haven’t seen any mention or discussion about what other muslim countries might do if Iran was attacked. Or what effect an attack would have to the power structures in those countries.

    Doea Iran have Allies? They just signed a huge deal with China for oil and gas for the next 20-25 years I believe. Will the Chinese accept those supplies being disrupted or denied? What effects it would have on trade and international relations.

    Bush is the far greater danger than Iran, to his own country.

  • Think Pakistan, Russia, China, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Korea, Viet Nam, or dozens of other countries the USA has ticked off. Not to mention that if Iran was attacked, coalition forces in Iraq would suffer. When Iraqi’s gets bitten by a mosquito, Iranians scratch themselves.

    Neutral: Almost every country in Europe with the exception of the UK.

    As far as I know the only enemies of Iran are: USA, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  • doesn’t like Iran but it is against an Iranian war, and they are dealing via Russia. Palestinia receives now funding from Russia, but the funding might just arrive via Russia.

    — There are no income taxes in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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