LA Times thinks we have no Iran options
The latest mainstream press story on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. Options Few in Feud With Iran, sticks to the script that we have little leeway in what happens.
Facing diplomatic gridlock, unappealing military options, internal ideological divisions and major domestic and foreign political constraints stemming from the Iraq war, Washington has little choice but to watch and wait.If this is true, it is a result of either a lack of imagination, or the personnel changes within the administration. But I doubt it's true.
Washington's war planners have updated their scenarios for a possible showdown with Iran. The national security bureaucracy has conducted war games, and officials have been "gaming out" other ways the United States could respond if diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon were to fail. But they describe the efforts as "prudent contingency planning" that should not be interpreted as saber-rattling. If anything, the process of studying a potential conflict with Iran seems to have made some Bush administration officials more cautious. One possible outcome that alarms planners, senior officials say, is that Tehran might order terrorist retaliation if the United States were to strike Iranian nuclear targets. U.S. officials are particularly worried about the potential for Iran to use the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, which it funds and supports, to hit American targets in Iraq, step up attacks in Israel, target U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, or even to strike inside the United States. American officials have called Hezbollah "the A-team" of terrorism, potentially more deadly than Al Qaeda, with possibly dozens of cells around the world. "Hezbollah gives Iran a global weapon that we need to understand," the second senior administration official said.If we are concerned about Hezbollah now, how much more concerned will we be if it has access to nuclear weapons at the whims of the mullahs? Is it not possible to launch raids on Hezbollah in conjunction with attacks on Iran? Hezbollan as it stands today will look like child's play compared to the threats and coercion it is capable of after Iran goes nuclear – just one of the many reasons for Iran to do so.
Any scenario under which the U.S. attacks Iran, overtly or covertly, will have to include plans to batten down the hatches at myriad American diplomatic targets overseas where retaliation could be expected, the official said.Easily enough done. Quietly evacuate non-essential personnel and move the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Companies into reinforcement roles in the areas in the region that are vulnerable. Use a battalion or so of infantry if necessary.
U.S. economic targets abroad could also come into the cross hairs. And some think a cornered Iran could launch preemptive strikes of its own, as some Tehran officials have threatened recently.Let's get this straight: Tehran has warned about launching pre-emptive strikes of its own and we're still talking to them? The next conversation should use Margaret Thatcher's response to Saddam when he mentioned using WMD: tell them to take a Polaroid of Tehran because there will be nothing left but glass when the shooting's over. Here we have a regime that – even the Europeans think – is clandestinely pursuing nuclear weapons, and it is warning us of its pre-emptive capabilities? What will it warn us of when it has nukes? Will it warn us?
Several American officials have said they believe Hezbollah has "sleeper" cells raising money in at least five major U.S. urban areas. The question in officials' minds is how those cells might react if the U.S. were to clash with Iran."Five major urban areas" seems a bit too specific for mere whimsy. If the cells are there, we must be watching them and it is a small step to arrest them. Certainly we can do so before making any strategic moves? Arrest them all and then arrest everyone in their cell phone lists. See what shakes out. If they are innocent, let them go.
The Pentagon, officials said, is paying less attention to Iran than it is to Syria, which the administration believes is the source of much of the funding for the Iraqi insurgency. With 150,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq for the foreseeable future, top military officials rule out the possibility of a large-scale ground offensive against Iran.Hear ye, hear ye! The Adventures of Chester will soon publish its series on right-wing critiques of the war, and the first will examine the size of the US military, among other things. We should be ashamed that after putting 500,000 troops in the Arabian desert for upwards of 12 months around 14 years ago, that we now struggle to maintain 150,000 there for two years. The US military is too small and this fact is already constraining our options and threatening our security. The left decries Iraq as breaking our current forces – in hopes of giving one more reason why the invasion was a poor idea. Instead, they are strengthening the claim that our military is too small.
Airstrikes could set back any nuclear program temporarily, but a determined Tehran government could rebuild it in as little as three years, outside experts said. Some warned that Iran had learned the lessons of the Israeli airstrike that destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, after which Tehran dispersed its nuclear activities and fortified its facilities to thwart an air attack.Who says we can't then hit them again? We'll return to these options soon in the Iran series. Overall, this LA Times article shows the administration conveniently split between those who think military action would work, but is a bad idea, those who think military action wouldn't work, but that we have no other options, and those who think we have no options period. If any of this is true, it is not the Bush Administration that I voted for. But I'm doubting that it is true.