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TARGETING IRAN: Whose War Is It, Anyway?

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse
President Bush Addressed the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion on Tuesday, August 28. In his written speech, the President ratcheted up his threats against Iran, stopping just short of officially declaring war against the Islamic Republic. As usual, Mr. Bush sounded as innocently sincere in his convictions as a five-year-old would be about Santa Clause on Christmas morning. While children's fantasies add to their innocent charm, when the so-called "Leader of the Free World" speaks he cannot be granted the same condescension.

Criticizing the President for paving the way to yet another potentially disastrous excursion in the Middle East is to give him credit for making decisions on matters of foreign policy; he does not, and is not even capable of doing so! The only criticism that might actually apply is in Mr. Bush's willingness, indeed eagerness, to act as the front for the real movers and shakers in his cabinet, and to voice their mandates without a clue as to their credibility or merit.

Enough has already been written and talked about regarding the inevitability of an American and/or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear enrichment sites and military facilities.  Elaborating any further on the pros and cons of such an eventuality at this time is no more than regurgitating the old stuff. I have been among a very few observers and analysts who continue to believe that, regardless of the heightened rhetoric, such an attack is extremely unlikely.

After listening to the President's recent utterances, perhaps we few are being too optimistic.

At this point in the game, the aim of the analyst should not be to prove himself or herself a good observer, an astute critic or a brilliant prognosticator, hoping to be discovered by some think tank and offered a position. Short of some self-gratification, it ultimately makes no difference how brilliant speakers, writers or columnists are if their views have no consequential effect on the conduct of government policies. Anti war websites, peace activist organizations and dissent movements will continue to voice their opinions, one mayhem after another, gaining more sympathizers from the crowds that share many of their views in the first place. But are their efforts effective in bringing about any meaningful change in government policies before such policies go into action? Thus far, the opponents of disastrous government policies have gained some public sympathy and a position in the limelight only to condemn those policies after the fact.

With that in mind, let us just assume that my predictions shall prove incorrect and an attack on the Iranian targets by the American forces or the Israelis (it is the same thing, anyway!) will take place before George W. leaves office.

This grand chess game is now entering its most crucial stage, where a wrong move could prove disastrous for either player, especially for the Iranians. Everybody, including Iran's own military elite, knows that Iran is no match for the power of the United States. That does not mean, however, that any attack, no matter how limited or surgical, whether on the Revolutionary Guards' bases near the Iraqi border or on Iran's nuclear facilities and other strategic targets, will be left without a response from Iran.

Here lies the crucial point: how such confrontation would evolve and, perhaps, its effects on the entire configuration of the future Middle East, will depend on how the Islamic Republic of Iran would react to this provocation. And, provocation seems to be the initial phase of what might lead to a full fledged war in the region.

In addition to ever louder unsupported accusations against Iran for allegedly interfering in Iraq to destabilize the region and do things that "kill Americans" (the newly coined buzz phrase), orders have already been given by the Commander in Chief for the American troops to actively confront the Iranian troublemakers in Iraq. Along Iran's frontier areas, from the Kurdish regions in the northwest, all the way to the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan's Baluchi areas in the southeast, insurgents backed by the American, Israeli and British special units have been carrying out sabotage missions to create mayhem inside Iran.

At the same time, dissident activists inside Iran are being encouraged by outside interests to increase their activities toward a regime change, a tactic that has had the opposite effect by legitimizing the regime's hardening resolve to further hush the voices of opposition and to discourage long overdue reforms.

All that, plus harassment and intimidation of Iranian political staff in Iraq, as well as other political and economic pressures against the Islamic Republic, seem to be aimed at provoking Iran to react in a more aggressive manner, blatantly enough, it is clearly hoped, to justify a direct military response by the American forces in the region. This strategy has thus far failed to push Iran toward the hoped-for reaction. How long it will be before the war provocateurs get tired of their needling tactics and decide to strike Iran militarily is now the question.

The latest charade, about an Iranian American arrested for allegedly attempting to purchase submachine guns for shipment to Iran via Dubai, is so transparently amateurish that it insults one's intelligence. The culprit has declared that he "intended to ship them to a faction in Iran's government that is aligned with a former president and political foe of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." Is this charade supposed to raise suspicions and create a new division among Iran's leadership? Give me a break!! Are we to believe that submachine guns and night vision goggles are not readily available in black markets all over the world? Wouldn't it be insane to attempt to buy weapons in the United States for shipment to Iran via Dubai under the careful scrutiny of all our security agencies?

Up to this point the Iranian leaders have managed this grand game of chess remarkably well. While continuing their chest thumping and belligerent defiance against the pressures from the United States, efforts have successfully been made to keep a window open for a potential rapprochement with the West. The result has been that Iran is viewed globally - with the exception of the United States and Israel - as an innocent victim of a superpower's hegemonic imperialism that regards the Islamic Republic as a stubborn nuisance in its way to total regional domination.

The Europeans and other non Anglo-Saxon countries who stand to enjoy highly profitable commercial relationships with Iran find America's demands to impose more severe economic sanctions against Iran counter to their own best interests. In spite of this, stricter trade sanctions might be imposed against Iran in order to push Iran closer to the breaking point by viewing these sanctions as a de facto economic embargo and a declaration of war against its sovereignty.

Should the master chess players in Iran continue to refrain from a blatant counteraction, chances of some military assault on that country will increase, hoping to force Tehran to strike back at the American forces in the region or, better yet, at Israeli targets. Then all hell, it is hoped, will break loose - meaning  a full scale attack against Iran's military and strategic infrastructure and consequently Iran's all-out struggle to cause as much trouble for the United States and its regional allies, especially Israel, as it can.

There are observers who believe that the only issue still being debated at the Pentagon is whether the initial strike against the Iranian targets should be limited, i.e., surgical, or a full scale assault that would destroy some 1200 targets throughout the country, not allowing any time for Iran to react.

But even in the aftermath of a full scale aerial attack with missiles and long range bombers dropping bunker-busters and low-yield nuclear devices, enough will remain of Iran's arsenal to inflict a great deal of pain to the aggressors regionally. And that is only in the short-term.

The long-term effects of an attack on Iran would be too mind boggling to delve into in this writing. Of one thing I have little doubt, however; that rather than fragmenting the Iranian public along political, ethnic or religious party lines and bringing about any regime change, an attack on Iran would unite the nation under one flag, just as was the case when Saddam's forces invaded an even less consolidated Iran in 1980.

I cannot accept for one second that the political strategists who drew up the blueprints for the invasion of Iraq to be followed by attacking Iran and, perhaps, Syria, truly believed that a blitzkrieg against Saddam Hussein's Iraq would put the scare in everyone's heart in the region, bring down uncooperative regimes leading to a peaceful transition toward compliant, pro-Western democracies. This line of propaganda bull is sadly what continues to energize George W. Bush to "stay the course", in spite of all the evidence against his convictions.

It would be quite na´ve to think that the masterminds who are now targeting Iran, are not aware or indeed fully expecting that attacking Iran would create a regional turbulence that would guarantee a decades-long environment of instability for the region, compelling the United States to commit to a full-scale military presence to protect the West's interests in the region's oil and, above all, to safeguard Israel.

The obvious question is: How would the assured destruction of oil production facilities and the disruption of loading terminals and shipping lanes resulting from such a war improve West's access to the Middle East oil? Also, how might it be less advantageous for the Western oil markets to procure that oil from the open sources floating on the world's oceans in giant supertankers, when the oil producing states, Iran and Iraq, must export their oil in order to fuel their devastated economies - and all that without having to go to war?

With regard to Iran's nuclear dossier; who're we kidding? A-There has been no evidence that Iran's nuclear projects have been anything but what Iran has declared, all within its rights within the NPT agreements and under the monitoring eyes of the IAEA. B-Even the tone of the US Administration has changed, from charging Iran with unlawfully pursuing nuclear weapons development, to now trying to gain the "technology that might lead to" weapons development! And, C- Even if Iran were to become a nuclear power in, say, five to ten years, how would that be construed as an "existential threat" to Israel? Any preemptive nuclear attack on Israel by a nuclear Iran would not only cause far more damage to the Palestinian populations which Iran supposedly defends, a guaranteed retaliatory attack by Israel and the United States would destroy Iran beyond recovery. Any real threat coming from a nuclear-armed Iran would be as a response to an attack upon its soil by another nuclear-armed power, such as Israel or even the United States forces in the region.

We are, therefore, left with but one conclusion: America is fighting Israel's war.

Neither the United States, definitely not Iran, nor the Middle East region as a whole, would stand to gain by a military attack on the Iranian soil. It would be a lose-lose situation all the way around. Yet we have powerful influence peddlers in Washington pushing for a military attack upon Iran. Even many among the Pentagon top brass have threatened to resign should such an attack take place. The State Department has been insisting on a diplomatic course to defuse this heightening tension being fueled by the Vice President and his neoconservative advisors and the powerful Israeli moles within the Administration and the US Congress.

Clearly, there is only one entity that does stand to benefit in an environment of instability and mayhem in the Middle East. Longer-term preoccupation of the United States in the affairs of the Middle East equates to America's continuous military presence in the region, which also entails increasing pressures on Israel's antagonists such as Iran, Syria and Lebanon. In this environment of war and threats of war, Israel stands to gain in its usual role as a parasitic dependant of the United States by receiving massive military and economic aid, literally on demand, while the so-called Roadmap to Peace and the tragic fate of the Palestinians are put on hold indefinitely.

Israel would hate to have the Iranian regime replaced with a moderate new leadership that would open the door to a meaningful rapprochement with the United States. A new or a more compliant Iran might mean a less menacing Hezbollah in Lebanon and even a more cooperative Syria. A more friendly Iran might also mean less of a concern over the Shi'a dominated Iraq, which would expedite the removal of the American armed forces from the region.

None of these developments would sit well with the Israelis. A calmer Middle East would bring the focus of the international community, especially the United States' attention, to the issue of Palestine, something that the Israelis would do anything to avoid. Up till now, they have managed to have the cake and eat it too, thanks to their lobbying power and the allegiance of America's political elite such as Joe Lieberman, Tom Lantos and other Zionist moles, as well as the Bible toting Christian Zionists like Pastor John Hagee and his intellectually challenged following, who would trade the interests of their country for their personal passions or their primitive fundamentalism.

The only thing that might spoil these plans in the aftermath of a military strike against Iran is the almost impossible decision by the Iranians to not respond or retaliate! Could the Iranian leadership maintain enough internal calm and resolve to refrain from reacting as everyone expects? Only the appearance of the "Mahdi", the Shi'a Imam-in-Occultation, or perhaps a resurrected Ayatollah Khomeini, might have enough charisma to convince the Iranian nation to remain calm after an assault on the homeland. No matter how limited or wide scale an attack on Iran, the people would expect, indeed demand, a response by their government. What miracle would convince the Iranian nation of the advantages of a non-response to an act of war?

Just imagine that, after the missile strikes and the bombardments of Iran's strategic targets, the Iranian leaders order the military and the Revolutionary Guards to "stand down". While the anti American and anti Israeli insurgencies increase in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and even Afghanistan, Iran does not launch a counter attack against the American forces in the region and the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf remain open. The result of such inaction would be an immediate international outcry against the aggressor and a flood of sympathy for the beleaguered Iran. It is likely, in such an event, that the European Union would distance itself from the United States and open full-scale economic and trade relations with Iran. Others, such as Russia, China, India and even Japan would take advantage of this sea change.

America is too big and economically powerful to suffer any consequential damages from its geopolitical mistakes. For Israel, however, failure to accomplish its diabolical mission could be destiny-making. Israel might simply be forced to abandon its self-righteously aggressive behavior and accept its rightful position in the international community of civilized nations.

It remains to be seen how Iran's master chess players maneuver their pieces to avoid the pitfall whose fire could burn friend and foe. Perhaps Mr. Ahmadinejad's premonitions about the coming of the Mahdi might be taken as a sign that even he believes only a miracle could protect his nation against America's war machine hijacked by Zionist interest.

About the author: Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. Please visit for ordering.

... Payvand News - 9/4/07 ... --

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