Thoughts on the War on Iran
Bombs on Iran? That is no open question, anymore. In question is only:
- Who? (Israel? The US? Both? Others?)
- What aims?
- What kinds of bombs?
- Why? What for? And
- How does the world look after the bombings?
1 Causae Belli (Reasons for a war)
1.1 Reasons for an Aggression
The option of an aggression towards the Iran is for the most parts an option for Israel and, less openly declared, an option for the US. Without the support of the US an Israeli aggression is hardly conceivable. So, let us focus on the reasons America has for a war on Iran:
The official main argument of the US for a war is today the same as it was three years before in the case of the war against the Iraq.
- One has to prevent the nightmare par excellence – in time, that is: pre-emptively. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) may not get into the hands of T-groups (terrorist groups like Al-Quaeda, for example). Iran, so the argument, supports such groups; therefore…
- Were the Iran to own WMD, this would per se threaten the world’s peace; therefore…
The semi-official rationale, too, is what it was. It is specified the primary victim of the Iranian threat: Were the Iran to own WMD, Israel would be maximally endangered. One single Hiroshima-bomb on Tel-Aviv – and the state of Israel would be eradicated; therefore…
Even the fundamental reason is the same as in the last two gulf wars. It is the geo-strategic reason; the look ahead which encompasses the whole globe and the rest of the century is this: The west needs to have control over the natural resources (mainly oil and gas) in the ‘farther Middle East’ – especially in the regions of the Persian gulf and the Caspian sea. This is an absolutely vital interest. An Iran which eludes this control or simply might steer out of control threatens the lifeblood of the ‘free world’; therefore…
Each of these reasons is – especially from the point of view of the US – conclusive. These different strands of motivation – war against terror, security of world peace, guarantee for the existence of the state of Israel and the geo-strategy – are interconnected and support one another. This amounts to a much stronger overall “Western” pro-bellum motif.
I do not pay attention, here, to the standard argumentation that the so called military-industrial complex of the US, and thereby the entire economy of the US, can only optimally function if there soon is another high-tech war. Even though it has consequences for the case of the Iran, as well, it would not be an argumentation specifically only related to the Iran.
These reasons for war of the US are also those of Israel. Yet, for Israel, the main argument is the threat to its existence. In addition to this, Israel regards itself as already threatened due to the weakening of its military pre-eminence, at least a weakening in the region of the Middle East. It is understandable, since Israel assumes that its continuous existence is owned solely to this military pre-eminence. Especially for Israel another reason for: Bombs on Iran.
1.2 The Other Side
From the perspective of the Iran, the world looks quite different: Primarily vital Iranian interests are threatened, today.
The resources of a country belong to the country they are in, or so we assume according to the ruling order of our world. (The thought that ‘public goods’ could be privatized, such as oil, water, maybe even air – is not yet as popular in the Iran and in some other Islamic countries as it is in the fundamentalist-liberal countries of the West). Therefore:
- Having control over its rich oil resources is a vital interest for the Iran. It is not negotiable.
- Every claim asserted by a third party to control these resources which is not agreed to by the Iran itself, must be seen as an encroachment on the country’s sovereignty.
Even if the long-term provision of the Iran for its own needs would be securely covered by its oil and gas resources, it is the export of these goods which form the main source of income and without which the industry and economy of the country cannot survive. (The relation between own consumption and export is today 50:50, not an optimal number for the Iran.) In other words: The Iran needs further sources of energy, from its perspective nuclear power. For reasons of efficiency the Iran wants to rely on a closed nuclear circuit, like other industrialized countries do, that is: the Iran wants to build nuclear recycling facilities.
The economic and thereby the political independence of the country can only be secured by building such facilities on their territory, of course. (Russia as guarantor for energy? Or the neighbour Aserbeidschan? What a risk!)
The geopolitical importance of the Iran is no secret to the Iran itself; that West and East (cue: China) equally depend on Iran’s wealth and resources, means for the Iran either, if it can profit from the export of these resources, a great ascent, or else, a steep fall, if not even ruin. This last alternative can only be prevented if the country can resist outside pressure. It needs either a reliable third party as its protector, that is one with a strong selfish interest in the Iran, or a sufficient deterrence potentiall – optimally both.
China would be the ideal partner – and truly with no other country the Iran has tried for better economical and other relations. But China is not yet strong enough for a war of resources against the US.
Remains only the second alternative: the Iran needs sufficient deterrence potential. Therefore, and despite all its denials: the Iran needs the bomb – to protect its own interests. The Iran would be foolish to not draw this consequence; therefore…
(A general question for international politics: Should powerful states be allowed to request foolishness or stupor of weaker states?)
We have to further note that the current situation of safety of the Iran has been rapidly declining over the course of the last years. The Iran sees itself surrounded by US-dominated powers; and this perception is correct.
Afghanistan and Pakistan in the East, Iraq and Kuwait in the West; in the North-East the instable Turkmenistan, in the North-West the NATO-state Turkey, a small corner of Armenia and Aserbaidschan whose oil and gas resources are also controlled by Western companies; in the South, beyond the Persian gulf, Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, the United Emirates and the Oman.
In addition: In the region there are already two nuclear neighbours; they have acquired their nuclear power without much ado. The direct neighbour Pakistan – and Israel. Why should the country of Persia/Iran, rightly proud of his history, tolerate that there are double standards applied to itself and these neighbours?
And finally: Iran and Israel see themselves – despite their economic co-operations – as enemies. Israel is a nuclear neighbour with a high tech standard. Iran cannot compete in the least with this standard. The mutual threat is extremely asymmetrical. Concerning the WMD-capacity, Israel is much more a threat to Iran than vice versa.
1.3 Consequences – and who will draw them
On both sides there are ‘vital interests’ at stake. These are diametrically opposed; therefore…
Therefore? The answer given by the more powerful side can following this logic only be: Bombs on Iran!
The more powerful side are the US and their allies, the NATO-states (certainly, like last time, Great Britain on the front line) and also some other democratic and non-democratic friends in this global war against terror. And, next to the US, mainly Israel. Understandably so, as asserted in 1.1.6.
Who will start the aggression? In June 1981, Israel bombed the nuclear power plant Osirak in Iraq on its own; this was when Iraq was said to be about to cross the same line as Iran is, today. The attack in Iran has to be of a different calibre. Now we are talking of ca. 30 ‘potential facilities’. The article ‘Will Iran Be Next?’ by James Fallows reporting on the bombing map exercises of the US talks even of “300 aims in Iran, of these 125 former production and storage facilities of NBC-weapons”.
Not that Israel could not execute a military attack of this size; it could most likely take on even greater tasks. Still: It wouldn’t be prudent for Israel to be the sole subject of potential retaliation by the Iran. The US will be part of the task, presumably it will blow the first strikes, live on CNN. There are hints that the latter will be the case, taking into account the American dominance in escalation – but from here on, we are only speculating. (Something which can be fruitful, at times.)
2. War – ASAP
All reasons given above are reasons for an aggression AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The reasons for an attack in 1.1. clearly so; but some other reasons, too, which explain the Iranian motivation to start and implement its own nuclear program as soon, because they are eo ipso reasons for the prevention of such a program. For example, also, the geo-strategic argument in 1.2.3.
If a country owns WMD, the risk of an aggression for the aggressor are – until now – incomparably higher, if not unforeseeable. Then, an attack is not an option, any longer (see North Korea); therefore…
2.2 When will the Iran have WMD – if nobody prevents this? The speculations about this time frame vary dramatically. Following some sources, it could take years. The Washington Post calculated in an article of 8/2/05 that it could take up to the middle of the coming decade. Other sources, especially Israeli sources – for example the head of the Israeli secret service (says Spiegel online on 1/6/06)– say that it could be a matter of four months; April 2006? – therefore…
Reason says: The bigger the looming danger if one waits, the more reasonable it is for him to not wait any longer; and assuming maximal danger it is the most reasonable to not wait at all. From the point of view of Israel and of the US the assumed danger of Iranian WMD – no matter whether they own them directly or via their Iranian terror-connections – is incredibly high; therefore…
This logic implies: The countdown is going. Or, as the ZEIT had it fittingly re the war on Iraq, the autopilot for the offence is already programmed. Yes; and we have boarded the same plane as the last time.
3. Preparation for War
Like all human actions, wars have two sides: a mental and a physical, that is, material side. This is also the case for preparations for war (see: Little Chance for Peace.) The preparations for the war on Iran are pretty far advanced. The material preparations are almost completed and have been since mid 2005. The mental preparations are under way. The still necessary mental war-preparations are, likewise, on autopilot.
Despite their more and more obvious ‘human flaws’, America’s forces are still more effective than the military forces of the next 10 or 20 next powerful states combined. A few buttons pushed on a laptop in Nebraska, for example – and the Iran of tomorrow would be bombed back into stone age (to quote some earlier US-threats in similar situations). Israel alone could with its estimated 200 nuclear bombs effect such a time warp without any bigger technical difficulties, too.
But this is not the goal – at least, not yet. So far what’s at stake is ‘only’ the military blockages of a potential production of nuclear weapons – an extension of the Iranian nuclear industry.
In Iran, too, important parts of this industry are in subsurface facilities. And in order to destroy these facilities, one needs special weapons. These are available, today; proto-types of these BBBs – bunker-buster-bombs – have been ‘tested’ in the war in Afghanistan and perfected in the war on Iraq. Between the end of 2004 and June 2005 Israel allegedly received 500 BBBs from the US. (See: Strategic Upgrading). These BBBs can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads. The latter are necessary if one wants to destroy aims lying deep under the ground. This will have to be the case. These so called ‘mini-nukes’ are declared to be tactical battlefield weapons – this declaration ‘allows for’ their use. Michel Chossudovsky dubs this way of waging war early as a “Nuclear War against Iraq”.
The war on Iran is to be expected to become a copy of the war on Iraq by Bush senior, or the NATO war on Yugoslavia (Kosovo-War): aerial warfare with a series of precisely planned ‘chirurgical hits’. A ‘clean’ war: no invader will have to step on Iranian soil. Death? Certainly some collateral damage; but those dead are not our dead.
3.2 The War-Software; Component 1: The Strategy
The strategic concept of the war on Iran responds to the reasons for war outlined in 1.1. The blueprint of the whole is the New Security Strategy. This strategy had long since been planned, long before September 11th, 2001, but it was implemented only in the wake of the first anniversary of this event (September 2002). It is a strategy which had its first implementation in the war on Iraq. This explains the morosity with which the alleged reason for war (the secretly developed WMD of Iraq) was kept alive in 2003.
The central goal of this strategy:
“Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
Read carefully: It is not the goal to prevent the use of WMD by our enemies – that would not be novel; the aim is to prevent even the threat of such a use. Consequently and consequentially this strategy spelled out that the possibility of such a threat with WMD would be a casus belli for the US.
The nuclear policy of the Iran is such a case. This is completely independent of the fact whether the Iran really plans to own nuclear weapons or not. (There is, so far, no proof. But, as I said: The Iran is surely not stupid.)
To a strategist who wants to allow for pre-emptive wars, this strategy offers justifications which come with an awesome terminological advantage: the core piece of this guide to war is the assertion of a potentiality. And such assertions are in reality very, very hard to falsify. (Even if you cut off all the octopus’ arms, it could still grow new ones!) The only sure way of reducing the developmental potential of someone is to take away his freedom of decision over his own actions. That is: to bring him completely under our control. Thusly, the ‘New Security Strategy’ of the US presupposes the entitlement to world domination. This claim to power will be asserted with this new war on Iran.
3.3 The War-Software; Component 2: The presentation of war
The countdown for war is going. But this countdown is itself already a part of the war, maybe its most important one. Therefore: The war on Iran has already started. All further elements of the seeming countdown are already part of a psychological warfare.
Aside from the necessary propaganda forerun, the only fact which might postpone the barrage is that the US need the Iran to stabilize the Shiites-sector in Iraq. If the Iran is, for whatever reasons, not necessary for this task any more, then – at the latest. But this allows for a little more time in preparation; it doesn’t nullify these preparations in the least.
The most important aim of the war in this first phase is the maximization of the acceptance of the war by the population and allies. In order to achieve this maximization, one has to evoke the impression that one left nothing untried in the prevention of war. The acceptance-maximum will be reached if the people are under the impression that this war really was ultima ratio. The starting signal: ‘There are no alternatives’
What does that mean for all of us – and also for you, dear reader? It means:
- Be from now on generally sceptical towards all reports of war – no matter what source they are from.
- Keep your distance! (This is not an easy exercise.)
- Refrain from war hysteria!
- Don’t watch any dramatic fictional war-renditions, at the movies or on TV! Switch them off!
- Read a book! For example a history book. Or watch videos from the time before the war on Iraq, of March 2003. (If the media would be really interested in education, they would replay these tapes.)
- Compare the lies of yesterday with the invocations of today!
- If you feel like you have heard these statements before, assume the opposite of them to be true. Try it! (At first, you may wonder; a few weeks later you won’t.)
Whether we learnt something from the last war for this one? Probably next to nothing.
Otherwise we would know what to expect. One does not have to be clairvoyant to predict that the prelude to this war follows the same rules as the last did.
On the political stage:
- Threat to call the Security Council; fathom how much these threats effect. Open or hidden manipulation of different members of the SC. (For the interested public the main question remains: Will there be a VETO in the SC? Bets made. I would bet that China will veto. See 1.2.3.)
- Repetition of step 1 x-times.
- Call of the Security Council – if agreement likely; first, rather general resolutions. (If there is a VETO – jump ahead to 5).
- Repetition of step 3 with more rigorous resolutions, if necessary. 4.1 Threat and imposition of sanctions. 4.2 Issuance of an ultimatum (maybe guaranteed to be not satisfiable). 4.3 Final aim: Legitimization of an ‘intervention’.
- (Despite the VETO possible in 3 or 4): Attack – and self-accreditation via declaration of a higher state of emergency.
The media profit most from the weeks directly preceding a war. (Smart journalists write their reports now.) The main rule for the staging of the event and the hyping of the suspense is to make the clock tick: WHEN WILL THE BIG GAME START?
Once more, the media will push the heightened tension before the game optimally to the point where the spectators would be thoroughly disappointed were the game to be cancelled last minute.
Cynical? No. Just as it was in February/March 2003. The script for the staging of the last war was flawless. And if we haven’t learnt from it, the directors of war surely have. And the media will do their best again.
Most contemporaries who refuse to believe that there will be a war on Iran are convinced that the US cannot afford another war because of the disastrous outcome in Iraq. This argument has some weak points:
- America’s war potential is not depleted. Especially the most efficient component, the air forces, are under-worked.
- In the global war on terrorism, Bush, Cheney and the others guys do – as they do with Iraq – count on (our ready belief in) the ultimate victory.
- This victory cannot be achieved, so the assumption, without the interception of the potential Iranian nuclear weapon production. Finally:
- Neither cost in money nor human lives seem to worry the US-administration. What really worries them is their waning popularity. The best antidote for such a dwindling is well known: a new war.
- This war is necessary to reinstall the believability of the superpower. The Iraq-blemish needs to be covered up. Especially with a view towards the other Islamic countries.
Therefore, it holds what had been declared already before the Iraq-war: next station – Iran.