Other Voices: Standoff with Iran raises legitimate fears
As important as local issues are to us, there are developments on the global level that are absolutely terrifying. I’m speaking of the Iran situation. Until the last few days, I was content to accept that our administration was using its usual bluster and posturing to wage yet another ideological public opinion campaign to further its political interests, in the name of ‘security,’ (and I confess, perhaps with some legitimacy).
What has shaken me out of my complacency are two recent media stories, almost back to back.
The first, and most alarming, is an article by the exceptionally astute and well-informed author, Seymour M. Hersh, writing yet another incisive article on the state of Mideast politics. His most recent well-researched analysis, “The Iran Plans ” would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?” (The New Yorker, April 17, 2006) puts the Bush administration public posturing in a whole new ” and extremely threatening ” light.
In Hersh’s opening words: “The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered not Iran.” Teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran?
He quotes military analyst retried Colonel Sam Gardiner as saying ‘at least four hundred targets would have to be hit,’ including not only nuclear facilities but also “two chemical production plants…fourteen airfields…cruise missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines…”
He states that the Pentagon presented plans to the White House this winter “for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon…against underground nuclear sites.” Indeed, Hersh states that the U.S. has been doing simulated nuclear weapons bombing runs in the Arabian Sea within range of Iranian coastal radars since last summer.
The nuclear option has “gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld” (why am I not surprised?).
Hersh quotes an unnamed Pentagon advisor stating some obvious concerns with Washington’s current tack. “Bombing Iran could provoke a “chain reaction” of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: “What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?
Further, quoting a Pentagon advisor on the war on terror: “Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Something bad is going to happen.”
The article cites a National Intelligence Estimate that Iran is a decade away from being a nuclear power and says the International Atomic Energy Administration’s “best estimate” is that “Iranians are five years away from building a nuclear bomb. “But, if the United States does anything militarily, they will make the building a bomb a matter of Iranian pride.”
The other alarming article, an AP brief in The Union (“Israel warns of new ‘Axis of Terror,'” April 18) cites Israel’s U.N. ambassador Dan Gillerman’s comments that “a new “axis of terror” ” Iran, Syria and the Hamas-run Palestinian government ” was sowing the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century.”
While Israel faces a very real threat by Muslims extremists, Gillerman’s reverse spin sounds a little too familiar. Remember Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil?’
Some have argued that there is the Hiroshima precedent for using nuclear weapons to end war, despite its horrific impacts. In that day, there were no other nuclear powers and, right or wrong, the U.S. faced little risk. It is a new world today and militant Muslim nations, such as nuclear Pakistan, can greatly complicate the introduction of nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
It is the supreme irony that in today’s world, nuclear weapons might be used to prevent the production of nuclear weapons, thereby triggering the use of more nuclear weapons. A weapon that arguably ended one world war may very well begin the next one ” and truly ending war forever.
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