Over the last decade, I have produced many papers and articles analyzing events in the Middle East and their geopolitical impact for academia, commercial publications, think tanks, and government agencies. I stand by my track record as one of the most prescient in the business. To that end, predicting chaos in the Middle East has been easy, but combining the what (violence) with the who, when, why, and how are the far more demanding predictions. One the worst case scenarios for a broad outbreak of violence in the Middle East has been the possibility of a major war between Israel and Iran. This conflict would immediately go regional with the on-going proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia pulling in the remaining Middle Eastern countries. Once it goes regional, it will be nearly impossible for the U.S., Europe, and Russia to remain on the sidelines. I have described in detail how this would likely play out as well as how it could be prevented in previous posts (see a partial list below). I am writing today again with a dire warning for anyone willing to listen. The most recent events occurring across the Middle East are now signaling the worst case scenario of a major conflict with Iran will come to pass as I have previously predicted. This first article discusses why war with Iran is unnecessary and must be avoided. Part II will discuss why even with an Iranian deal, war is inevitable and the dire consequences we can expect.
To begin, the alignment of current events relative to the nuclear deal being struck between the U.S. and Iran coinciding with an unprecedented rift with Israel is a perfect storm. The U.S. is quite close to a deal that would more or less allow Iran to continue its domestic nuclear program under supervision. In exchange for some monitoring and development concessions, the U.S. will likely remove sanctions and reopen official diplomatic relations as soon as April. This alone would be a major breakthrough in de-escalation of tensions in the region. However, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a newly strengthened position after he winning a contested re-election has already announced publicly that he will do everything within his power to prevent that deal. Unlike President Obama, Netanyahu can be taken at his word. To translate that statement, Netanyahu will force a war with Iran. Nonetheless, we must avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran. The following is the case why we must avoid that war.
Respective of the Iranian threat to the U.S., let’s cut through the propaganda and look at the facts. I will discuss other ancillary points in the following paragraphs, but the bottom line is the U.S. simply cannot afford the military mission to stop Iran’s nuclear program and therefore we need to negotiate the best deal possible and try to make friends. We must act for U.S. interests and not Israel’s special interests. The two national interests do not align. Failure in this regard will destroy the U.S. as we know it. Any professional analyst or war planner that has looked at the actual battle plans knows this and will tell you a war with Iran is a horrific idea. It will end in an unprecedented disaster for the U.S. the likes we have never seen in our lifetimes. A war with Iran will be the final act of the U.S. as a super power and would economically destroy us long before any imaginary nuclear threat. Even if somehow we were victorious, it would be at best a pyric victory. We cannot afford the costs of a war with Iran where we will lose aircraft, quite possibly an aircraft carrier (with an operational nuclear reactor), and for sure lesser naval vessels during the initial phases of reducing Iran’s anti-access capabilities. Even if successful in dismantling Iran’s anti-access defenses, which could take months and billions of dollars, we cannot afford an occupation of Iran, which would cost trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives. An occupation would be necessary to keep Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons, but would be unsustainably bloody and costly. This would leave us in the conundrum of occupying Iran indefinitely at a cost we cannot pay or withdrawing and Iran rebuilding its capabilities under a state of war with the U.S.
Beyond unpayable costs there are other salient points to consider regarding a war with Iran. Bombing of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure could certainly hit many of the “known” locations, but not without starting a war we would not be willing to finish. This war would certainly spread across the Middle East and then go global. In order to destroy many of Iran’s nuclear facilities such as Bushehr, which is an operational nuclear reactor, we would also cause massive ecological disasters. In the case of Bushehr, an open air fission reaction would occur on the coast of the Persian Gulf and render large areas uninhabitable. Also, if we attack Iran, we would almost certainly have to take out its government. Our success in this regard has been good when you consider the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Gaddafi, but we have utterly failed during the most important phase of putting into place a stable government better than what we violently deposed. Our failure in this regard has led to Islamic extremists controlling large regions from Libya to Afghanistan. What would emerge in Iran is hard to imagine, but likely not good and certainly hostile to the U.S. Finally, our military leadership is simply not prepared to fight and win wars. We have mental midgets acting as generals while playing politics. We failed to even decisively defeat the Taliban! If we can’t deal with what amounts to some Afghan hillbillies, we are nuts to think we can successfully jump into a long term fight with Iran and come out victorious. Iran is a country larger and more populous than Iraq and Afghanistan combined with a far more technological advanced military and directly adjacent to one of the most important gas an oil shipping lanes in the world. What could possibly go wrong?
At this point, I am sure some of you are fuming and hate me, but you need to know the truth. You are being misled by government propaganda (in this case mostly sponsored by Israel and Saudi Arabia). Have you not learned? Just as you were lied to about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the need to overthrow Gaddafi you are being lied to today by the same elite special interests. They are using you and getting rich in the process. Perhaps you don’t know that just like in the run up to the war with Iraq, your human “intelligence” on Iran is coming from extremely biased and unreliable sources. Specifically, we are getting information from an Iranian terrorist organization that was exiled from Iran for killing numerous innocent people AND Americans during the 1979 revolution known as the MEK/PMOI. It was so bad that it has been listed since then as a terrorist organization by the US State Department until it recently bought its way off the list in no small part due to the deal it struck with the CIA to provide biased information on Iran. The MEK self describes as a radical Islamic Marxist organization. Certainly this is a terrorist organization we can trust and be friends with, right? Even the Iranian people hate this organization, but we are providing them tax dollars and giving them political support to fabricate biased intelligence, which will be used to send you to die in another senseless war fought for special interests.
Irrespective of the facts, many of you will still only hear Iran’s chants of “Death to America” on Fox News and then your logical thought processes will cease to function. Do you think there might be a political reason you are hearing old file footage being replayed? I am not deaf to these cries and understand the worry. However, many of our allies also decry the U.S. and have done far worse. North Korea is one country that immediately comes to mind. We are still in a state of war with North Korea, it routinely attacks us and our ally South Korea, and weekly it pronounces the need to annihilate the U.S., but we have somehow learned to live with their demonstrated nuclear capability. Less obvious are countries like Saudi Arabia, which funded the 9/11 hijackers and using the words of the 9/11 report, “carried out a state sponsored act of war against the U.S.” Saudi Arabia like Israel is an arch enemy of Iran and both have poured millions of dollars into lobbying Congress to get Americans to pay for, fight, and die in an unnecessary war against Iran. Further, Saudi Arabia is the leading world sponsor and exporter of the extremist Wahhabist brand of Islam and has armed and funded ISIL and the Taliban to name just a couple major extremist groups dedicated to the destruction and conversion of the West and all Christians. Who needs enemies when you have allies like Saudi Arabia? Nonetheless, you are to believe it is Iran that must be destroyed.
I particularly dislike how Iran is always labeled the leading state sponsor of terrorism, but no one asks what attacks they supposedly committed? Some would say Iran funded Hezbollah, which is true, but to that I would note the U.S. funded MS-13, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, the Mujahedeen (Taliban), and ISIL to list just a few when it suited our interests. As such, what does that make the U.S.? Respective of Hezbollah, they have never attacked US interests that weren’t occupying and actively bombarding their cities such as Beirut. To pervert that into an international terrorist threat is simply bullshit. When asked what exactly Iran has done to the U.S., few could name anything remotely legitimate. Those that can name an incident must admit that the attacks we “believe” were clandestinely sponsored by Iran were against us in countries we had invaded and only after attacking Iranian interests unlike the terrorist attacks sponsored by our allies like Saudi Arabia. For example, the pundits like to point out that some improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used against our troops in Iraq were made in Iran. This is indeed true, but the devices were extremely limited, used against military targets, and certainly not comparable to a terrorist campaign against civilians. The pundits also forget to mention most of those devices were not targeting us, but the exiled and very nasty Iranian terrorist organization known as the MEK/PMOI previously mentioned (and good riddens to them). The rest were being used to defend Shia allies in southern Iraq against Sunni backed US forces. I am not siding with them, but am simply pointing out that it is ridiculous to think you can attack a sovereign nation’s interests in its backyard and not get punched in the nose. It is even bolder nonsense to conflate these actions with a broad based international terrorist campaign against the U.S. Iran is simply not in the league of state sponsors of terrorism like our “ally” Saudi Arabia that prides itself on supporting organizations like the Taliban, ISIL, and the 9/11 hijackers. Iran may not be our friend, but we have far bigger enemies manipulating us that must be dealt with first.
The fact Iran is not pro-American is real, but the threat it poses to the US is significantly hyped to serve the ends of special interests. Iran may indeed be seeking a nuclear weapons capability, but we have been unable to prove that through our national intelligence estimates to date. When one actually looks at Iran’s real capability, we see that hyperbole like Netanyahu’s red line and dire warnings of a break out capability are pure garbage even to a non-military analyst. Iran cannot just move from having a pile of uranium and obsolete centrifuges to suddenly testing a nuclear weapon. There are many obstacles that must be overcome and the signature is unmistakable to the intelligence community. Even if they finally do test a nuclear device, they are still far from a weaponized nuclear device and everyone would know they have lied. To make an effective weapon, Iran still has to miniaturize it and engineer how to mount it on a missile. Then, even before that Iran has to create a long range ICBM capable of evading our missile defenses and penetrating the interior of the US with pinpoint accuracy. That could easily take them a decade if they ever develop the technology and certainly allows the world plenty of time to react to their actions. There is a lot of testing and development to create an offensive nuclear weapon that would be blatantly obvious and allows plenty of time to switch from a plan of peace to one of war if truly threatened.
Think about Iran getting a nuclear weapon for a brief moment. In the event Iran did detonate a bomb, I ask, so what. At that point we can move forward with a coalition against them if it is deemed necessary since there is no hiding Iran’s treaty violation. Conveniently, we also don’t have to spend the money and lives to invade and can justify a nuclear strike against Iran with a clean conscience should they try to move to an offensive capability. As for Israel, Iran may or may not be their problem, but suffice to say they have at least 300 undeclared nuclear warheads ready to deal with any problem. Some of these missiles are on retrofitted Israeli Dolphin submarines currently sitting in the Black Sea and Persian Gulf within strike range of Iran and prepared to launch on Netanyahu’s command. Further, Israel is a recipient of our multibillion dollar missile defense shield, which Iran does not have the capability to penetrate. Finally, it would simply be absurd for Iran to attack Israel. Any strike on Israel would kill far more Muslims and not wipe Israel off the map as the fear mongers would like you to believe. One bomb is not capable of “wiping out” Israel, but certainly could do significant damage. However, Israel’s response would without doubt wipe Iran off the map for good. I am also pretty sure Lebanon and Syria (Iranian allies) would not be happy with a wobbly nuclear missile strike that may hit Tel Aviv, or Beirut, or the Med Sea, or the Sinai.
No one can know for sure what the Ayatollahs are planning, but they must operate within the physical limits of reality. Until it is clear they are truly a threat with demonstrated capability the hype is nothing more than fear mongering. At present, Iran is not the threat everyone (perhaps even Iran) wants to portray it as and certainly is not capable of threatening the U.S. with a nuclear weapon in the near future. Don’t be duped by the propaganda and the lies of special interests once more. Even if Iran becomes that threat we fear we must recognize the huge cost and damage to the U.S. a war with Iran will inflict. War will mean we must be ready to accept the final destruction of our economy and a quality of life far below what we grew up knowing. Until that day comes, I can’t stress enough that we must pursue peace. If peace fails, we always can have war. However, if we only pursue war there can be no other outcome. Sadly, this war is now likely inevitable as I will discuss in Part II of this series. Look for Part II where I will discuss the Israeli War Plan for Iran and the impact it will have on the U.S.
By Guiles Hendrik
March 22, 2015