War on Iran – Failing on Its Own Terms

David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy revives an issue I thought might at least temporarily dissipate after the official “dialing back” of Israeli leaders’ pressure for a US war on Iran. He says the Obama administration has discussed a US-Israeli “surgical strike” on Iran’s nuclear installations:

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. Advocates for this approach argue that not only is it likely to be more politically palatable in the United States but, were it to be successful — meaning knocking out enrichment facilities, setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties — it would have regionwide benefits. One advocate asserts it would have a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”

First of all, this changes nothing about the Obama administration’s resistance to Israel’s pressure for war, and in fact the dialing back of Israeli pressure, however temporary, is still occurring. Rothkopf is describing a contingency, which the US military always plans for.

But note Rothkopf’s and his mysterious source’s definition of a “successful” strike. It would have to “knock out enrichment facilities, set the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and do so without civilian casualties.” Unfortunately, none are these are the expected result of a US strike. As a recent report by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers concluded last month, the Iranian nuclear program is too redundant for a simple surgical strike that takes “a couple of hours” to delay the program for any considerable way. The report also said that the attack would increase Iran’s motivation to build a bomb, in order to deter further military action and that “achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran’s nuclear program would require a military operation – including a land occupation – more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”

So that does away with the first two criteria. How about the third? Well, as a study from the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics recently found, an attack that tried to take out more than four of Iran’s main enrichment facilities would shoot the immediate casualties to an estimated “10,000 people.” And according to a 2009 study by the Center for International and Strategic Studies “any strike on the Bushehr nuclear reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.” Even civilians in neighboring countries would be effected: “Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be heavily affected by the radionuclides.” So much for that.

Also note what Rothkopf quotes his source, an advocate of the attack, as saying: it would have a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.” Notice how none of that has anything to do with a nuclear weapons program – the supposed justification for a war. Instead, its all about maintaining geo-political dominance in the region. I’m always charmed when war planners are honest with themselves.

19 thoughts on “War on Iran – Failing on Its Own Terms”

  1. David Rothkopf (dummkopf?) channels Paul Wolfowitz. Hilarious schtick if not timeworn and dangerously disingenuous.

  2. It doesn't matter what the author thinks is the outcome of a strike. It's obviously ridiculous to think that a "surgical strike" will either halt the Iranian program or prevent Iran from retaliating.

    What matter are these 2 questions:

    1) Is Obama or someone high in his administration TALKING about such a strike?

    2) Is Obama or someone high in his administration considering TALKING PUBLICLY about such a strike in order to boost his standing in the polls before the election?

    Either of those outcomes would be bad and would negate much of the alleged "dialing back" of Israel pressure on the US.

    In other words, the questions of importance aren't about the strike concept, but about whether Obama is considering the concept or talking about the concept.

    Once again, the pundits here manage to focus on the wrong questions.

  3. By the way, "undefined" is actually me, Richard Steven Hack. I don't why this post shows up as "undefined" – a screwup in either the Twitter API or the comments software.

  4. “transformative outcome": generates imperal ponies with no adverse effects! cheaply! May even win the Vietnam war in retrospect!!

    Seriously, this quote is a joke, right?

  5. Too depressing for words ….. Iraq De?ja? vu………… Instead of Black Stooge Powell, we get Bebe and his comic bomb…….. A million dead Iraqis no problem, like the kickoff event with three thousand for this lunge for imagined full spectrum, dominance……. Full spectrum, dominance for whom..?? As the war goes up America goes DOWN………… DETROIT..!! CAM,DEN..!! GARY..!! BUFFALO..!!

  6. It's really war that is destroying America…………………..

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    1. To paraphrase the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "the bombs that are dropped on Vietnam (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran), explode on American cities".

  7. US war on Iran. He says the Obama administration has discussed a US-Israeli “surgical strike” on Iran’s nuclear installations:

  8. Like said by any smart person an attack on Iran is not just very stupid and also illegal under the constitution and international law.Iraq, Afganistan were easy in comarison to Iran witch will cost Americans million and many lifes.And after Israel has thousands of bombs droped on it by Iran and other and their illegal nucular arsenal hit Israel may be no longer.Also if Israel uses it's illegal nucular arsenal you can expect WW3 with Russia desroying Israel leaveing it a wast land for thousands of years.Iraq and Lybias biggest mistakes was not haveing nucular weapons,because if they did Saddam and Gadaffi would still be here.And that would be a good thing as neather are as evil as the warmongers that desroted both countrys then are stupid to say they should pay for the terrorism and death America and others rained on them.Dummys

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