Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thoughts on Iran

Once in a while you come across a blog that offers an oasis of calm and rationality in an ocean of hysteria. Using Google's blogsearch I stumbled on such a blog, presenting some very well defended and highly rational viewpoints on Iran and the nuclear issue. Let me provide a few samples.

In a post entitled
"In the Shadow of Iraq" the author expands on the desirability and consequences of a US led military attack on Iran's nuclear installations:
The fiasco of the Iraq War will define the context within which an attack on Iran would occur. A military strike would be a replay of the run-up to the Iraq War: the United States presenting evidence to the United Nations of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, declaring the process ineffective, then launching a military assault. It won’t matter this time around whether or not the evidence is true or not; we’ve cried wolf and we have no credibility left. All of the suspicions raised by the Iraq War will be confirmed and amplified: that the United States is trying to establish global hegemony, control the world oil supply, and even subjugate Islam in a war of civilizations. The backlash from the Iraq War in the Middle East will be amplified too: regional chaos, the empowerment of fundamentalists, and a dramatic increase in terrorism. (more)

Perhaps there is one comment I'd like to add. Whilst US military superiority over Iran cannot be denied, do not forget that Iran isn't Iraq. Whatever the US will throw at them (assuming for one minute that military intervention was started), the Iranians will fight back with great determination, especially against their historical arch-nemesis.

They are also well equipped and have recently taken delivery of a state-of-the-art air defence system (THOR) which is probably being deployed right now.

And in the Iran/Iraq war the former proved that even against superior firepower, motivation and gritty determination can be highly effective.

The Iranians haven't forgotten the 1953 coup, US support of Iraq near the end of the Iran/Iraq war or the downing of IR 655, even though these may be distant memories in the American general public.

The author's post
"Tehran's Rationality" is equally enlightening:

In the United States, much of the discussion about the current nuclear crisis with Iran has been distorted by the assumption that a nuclear Iran would present a security challenge different from anything we have previously faced. This is because the Islamic Republic has a fundamentalist religious government, widely assumed to be run by irrational extremists, motivated by the same suicidal fanaticism as the 9/11 hijackers.

But nations do not behave like cells of suicidal religious extremists. Governments, in general, are concerned with ensuring their own survival from internal and external threat. Internally, this means that a government is responsible for the survival and well-being of its people, and particularly for serving the interests of those people from whom they derive power. And in fact, Iran’s government is more responsive to the demands of its citizens than many in the Middle East. Despite the authoritarianism of its ruling religious establishment, it has a multi-layered government with several power centers including a partially democratic parliament; it also has a significant faction within the ruling elite seeking improved foreign relations, largely to reap the economic benefits and curb popular discontent.
If only more Americans accepted this view over the simplistic "Nuke the Mad Mullahs" attitude...

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At 1:11 AM, Blogger Timmer said...

Gert -

You seem to be assuming much here. Let's suppose for a second that Americans really do want to attack Iran (which most of us don't). Do you really think that this country of a largely dissenting youth, that wants to be westernized above all other things, will put their trust behind their radical government?

You are right about one thing - Iran is much tougher militarily than Iraq. However, it has some MAJOR disadvantages that you might not have considered: A VERY long coastline (the U.S. Navy just loves those), with a major U.S. Navy port and U.S. Air Force base just minutes away across the gulf in the South, and is bordered by (among others) Iraq on the west and Afghanistan on the East. And if Saudi Arabia decided to join in, then it would be an even quicker rout.

Unlike Iraq, where the thrust of coalition forces originated in the South-East corner and had to spread northward and westward, Iran is almost completely surrounded by sea and soil upon which we would amass our forces. Their Air Defense network would likely be gone in less than 48 hours.

And if your excellent British forces, with assets in many of the same areas, including Qatar and Oman, were to join the fray?

You don't seem to give much credit to the widespread diplomatic effort being exherted here - with no hint of a military mindset. Why is that? Like the Brits, Americans (as you know better than most) are pretty sick of war right now. But that is not because it cannot be waged.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Gert said...

You have to see my post (and some more to follow) in the light of the calls for war in the blogosphere. Use Google's blog search for "Iran" and you'll find that the majority of bloggers seem to favour military action of some sort, ranging from surgical strikes to all out war. I find this alarming and irresponsible and I'm glad to hear that broadly speaking you seem in favour of continued diplomacy, as I am. Perhaps I didn't give enough credit to the diplomatic effort, consider it hereby done.

You consider a war as winnable and sure enough: it almost certainly is. But at what cost? The author of the piece I quote makes it quite clear: the trade-off of preventing Iran to (eventually) acquire nuclear weapons but at an extremely high cost and potentially throwing the entire region into complete turmoil is not a favourable one.

In a coming post I'm going to try and summarise the arguments against attacking (in whatever form) Iran. Here's just one argument: I'm convinced that even an Iran with nuclear weapons poses no threat to either the US or Israel: Iran isn't foolish enough to use nukes against either, as by doing so it would have sealed its own fate as complete and utter destruction, annihilation even. You may consider the Mullah's as mad but they really aren't THAT mad. Just as I believe Mad King George isn't mad enough to basically start WW III by invading Iran... As regards British involvement, I doubt if this government has the stomach for another adventure in the ME.


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