2007 September 02 Sunday
Will Bush Attack Iran?

Maccabee at The Daily Kos (a left-leaning site fwiw) reports that a US Navy officer of his acquaintance is convinced the United States is going to launch a massive air strike against Iran.

I have a friend who is an LSO on a carrier attack group that is planning and staging a strike group deployment into the Gulf of Hormuz. (LSO: Landing Signal Officer- she directs carrier aircraft while landing) She told me we are going to attack Iran. She said that all the Air Operation Planning and Asset Tasking are finished. That means that all the targets have been chosen, prioritized, and tasked to specific aircraft, bases, carriers, missile cruisers and so forth.

You can argue that Maccabee's correspondent is a figment of his imagination or that this LSO exists but is ignorant and just imagining things. But stop and think about everything you know about George W. Bush. Ask yourself whether you think that, with about 16 months left in office, Bush really feels restrained in terms of what he thinks he can get away with doing.

This LSO says that officers who raise objections to these plans get replaced.

"I know this will sound crazy coming from a Naval officer", she said. "But we’re all just waiting for this administration to end. Things that happen at the senior officer level seem more and more to happen outside of the purview of XOs and other officers who typically have a say-so in daily combat and flight operations. Today, orders just come down from the mountaintop and there’s no questioning. In fact, there is no discussing it. I have seen more than one senior commander disappear and then three weeks later we find out that he has been replaced. That’s really weird. It’s also really weird because everyone who has disappeared has questioned whether or not we should be staging a massive attack on Iran."

"We’re not stupid. Most of the members of the fleet read well enough to know what is going on world-wise. We also realize that anyone who has any doubts is in danger of having a long military career yanked out from under them. Keep in mind that most of the people I serve with are happy to be a part of the global war on terror. It’s just that the touch points are what we see since we are the ones out here who are supposedly implementing this grand strategy. But when you liason with administration officials who don’t know that Iranians don’t speak Arabic and have no idea what Iranians live like, then you start having second thoughts about whether these Administration officials are even competent."

First, does Bush want to attack Iran? I think from his rhetoric the answer is a clear YES. Second, can he order an attack? You might think that Congress will stand in the way. So can President Bush order the US military prepare for and carry out an attack on Iran without even getting a resolution passed in Congress authorizing the attack? I'm thinking he can. Why? Past Presidents have carried out air strikes and other small scale attacks without Congressional approval. Bill Clinton didn't ask for Congressional legislation before shooting off Tomahawks at Afghanistan in order to try to kill Osama Bin Laden. Here, in his own words, Ronald Reagan offers his explanation for why he didn't inform let alone ask for permission from Congress before invading Grenada.

I suspected that, if we told the leaders of Congress about the operation, even under terms of strictest confidentiality, there would be some who would leak it to the press together with the prediction that Grenada was going to become "another Vietnam." We were already running into this phenomenon in our efforts to halt the spread of Communism in Central America, and some congressmen were raising the issue of "another Vietnam" in Lebanon while fighting to restrict the president's constitutional powers as commander in chief.

So Reagan invaded a country and overthrew its government and he did this without Congressional authorization. Reagan also kept Congress out of the loop with a bombing attack against Libya. Bush Sr. kept Congress out of the loop when overthrowing Noriega in Panama if memory serves. Therefore Bush has many precedents he can point to from Presidencies of both Republicans and Democrats. Well, what is to stop George W. Bush from launching a massive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities? I am thinking the odds are greater than 50:50 that Bush will order an air attack against Iran before leaving office. What do you think?

Next question: What will be the aftermath of such an attack?

  • Will Iranian oil facilities get bombed and will oil prices skyrocket as a result? (can you say "recession"? sure)
  • Will the Iranians try to sabotage Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi and other Gulf oil fields in retaliation?
  • How much will the attack delay Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons?
  • Will any Arab populations try to topple their governments in anger due to their closeness with the US?
  • How much will other governments try to distance themselves from Washington DC?
  • Will Arab countries respond by reducing their assistance to the US military in terms of overflight and other privileges which help in the US war in Iraq?
  • Will the Pakistani government wobble and will it cut off US military passage into Afghanistan due to popular Pakistani anger at the US attack?
  • What other consequences will flow from the attack?

Speaking at an event organized by the foreign policy journal The National Interest Alexis Debat says the Bush Administration has prepared a 3 day air attack on Iran.

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

What I wonder: Does US intelligence know where all the uranium centrifuges are located? How much of the Iranian nuclear weapons program is reachable with air strikes?

I feel like a spectator in all this. I wonder how it will turn out. Any ideas?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 September 02 02:10 PM  MidEast Iran

John S Bolton said at September 2, 2007 4:00 PM:

The worst consequence could be the temptation to do nation-building.
Realistic officials get overruled by those who bring no knowledge, but only the feeling that
all mankind, even Islamic hostiles, are brothers and naturally equal,
and only racism, fascism and xenophobia would say otherwise.
Those who can more blindly ignore worse and worse hostility and intractable differences
rise in the hierarchy, so that knowledge and sensible approaches
weaken and diminish for each step up in the organization you go.
Those who say these people are exceedingly different, and to such extent that our
practices are hopelessly unworkable with them, the more they say that,
the more likely they are to be cashiered. Egalitarian countries can't do nation-building.
They dismiss experience and knowledge as prejudice, and unprejudiced amateurs
act haphazardly as if they were dealing with Americans, and say their ignorance makes them better than you.

Mirco said at September 3, 2007 6:28 AM:

I don't know if Bush want attack. But I think he will be in need to choose between attacking or letting the IRI to have nuclear weapons to bully around.
The nuclear program could be delayed by the attack, but not stopped.
But, if I was POTUS, I would not limit or center the attacks to the nuclear facilities; I would target the Pasdaran and Basiji barracks, their economic interests, their costly weapon systems and their higher echelons.
If you want regime change Iran, you need to make them weak (they are) and shame them as weak.

No need to touch the oil infrastructure, as Iran economy is addicted to oil revenues and they can not really stop to sell oil. Nor, I think, they will attack other neighbors. They are Arabs, and Iranians are Persians, they are sunni and iranians are shiite and exporter of the islamic shiite revolution. They really hate and distrust each other.
The other arab governments (saudi and others) are afraid from Iran, so they will protest but not much more and only for show.

Hitting Iran could delay their nuclear development enough to let the oil crisis in development to unfold (iran oil industry is falling apart) and leave the regime without enough money to buy weapons, pay its thugs and develop nuclear weapons.

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