Author: markwu

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-4-12 21:02:21 |Display all floors

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“The Brits think this is a very bad idea,” Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council staff member who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, told me, “but they’re really worried we’re going to do it.” The European diplomatic adviser acknowledged that the British Foreign Office was aware of war planning in Washington but that, “short of a smoking gun, it’s going to be very difficult to line up the Europeans on Iran.” He said that the British “are jumpy about the Americans going full bore on the Iranians, with no compromise.”

The European diplomat said that he was skeptical that Iran, given its record, had admitted to everything it was doing, but “to the best of our knowledge the Iranian capability is not at the point where they could successfully run centrifuges” to enrich uranium in quantity. One reason for pursuing diplomacy was, he said, Iran’s essential pragmatism. “The regime acts in its best interests,” he said. Iran’s leaders “take a hard-line approach on the nuclear issue and they want to call the American bluff,” believing that “the tougher they are the more likely the West will fold.” But, he said, “From what we’ve seen with Iran, they will appear superconfident until the moment they back off.”

The diplomat went on, “You never reward bad behavior, and this is not the time to offer concessions. We need to find ways to impose sufficient costs to bring the regime to its senses. It’s going to be a close call, but I think if there is unity in opposition and the price imposed”—in sanctions—“is sufficient, they may back down. It’s too early to give up on the U.N. route.” He added, “If the diplomatic process doesn’t work, there is no military ‘solution.’ There may be a military option, but the impact could be catastrophic.”

Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, was George Bush’s most dependable ally in the year leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But he and his party have been racked by a series of financial scandals, and his popularity is at a low point. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said last year that military action against Iran was “inconceivable.” Blair has been more circumspect, saying publicly that one should never take options off the table.

Other European officials expressed similar skepticism about the value of an American bombing campaign. “The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically,” the European intelligence official told me. “He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse.” An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S. “Iran is no longer living in the Stone Age, and the young people there have access to U.S. movies and books, and they love it,” he said. “If there was a charm offensive with Iran, the mullahs would be in trouble in the long run.”

Another European official told me that he was aware that many in Washington wanted action. “It’s always the same guys,” he said, with a resigned shrug. “There is a belief that diplomacy is doomed to fail. The timetable is short.”

A key ally with an important voice in the debate is Israel, whose leadership has warned for years that it viewed any attempt by Iran to begin enriching uranium as a point of no return. I was told by several officials that the White House’s interest in preventing an Israeli attack on a Muslim country, which would provoke a backlash across the region, was a factor in its decision to begin the current operational planning. In a speech in Cleveland on March 20th, President Bush depicted Ahmadinejad’s hostility toward Israel as a “serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace.” He added, “I made it clear, I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel.”

Any American bombing attack, Richard Armitage told me, would have to consider the following questions: “What will happen in the other Islamic countries? What ability does Iran have to reach us and touch us globally—that is, terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up the pressure on Israel? What does the attack do to our already diminished international standing? And what does this mean for Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council?”

Iran, which now produces nearly four million barrels of oil a day, would not have to cut off production to disrupt the world’s oil markets. It could blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz, the thirty-four-mile-wide passage through which Middle Eastern oil reaches the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless, the recently retired defense official dismissed the strategic consequences of such actions. He told me that the U.S. Navy could keep shipping open by conducting salvage missions and putting mine- sweepers to work. “It’s impossible to block passage,” he said. The government consultant with ties to the Pentagon also said he believed that the oil problem could be managed, pointing out that the U.S. has enough in its strategic reserves to keep America running for sixty days. However, those in the oil business I spoke to were less optimistic; one industry expert estimated that the price per barrel would immediately spike, to anywhere from ninety to a hundred dollars per barrel, and could go higher, depending on the duration and scope of the conflict.

Michel Samaha, a veteran Lebanese Christian politician and former cabinet minister in Beirut, told me that the Iranian retaliation might be focussed on exposed oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. “They would be at risk,” he said, “and this could begin the real jihad of Iran versus the West. You will have a messy world.”

Iran could also initiate a wave of terror attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, with the help of Hezbollah. On April 2nd, the Washington Post reported that the planning to counter such attacks “is consuming a lot of time” at U.S. intelligence agencies. “The best terror network in the world has remained neutral in the terror war for the past several years,” the Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said of Hezbollah. “This will mobilize them and put us up against the group that drove Israel out of southern Lebanon. If we move against Iran, Hezbollah will not sit on the sidelines. Unless the Israelis take them out, they will mobilize against us.” (When I asked the government consultant about that possibility, he said that, if Hezbollah fired rockets into northern Israel, “Israel and the new Lebanese government will finish them off.”)

The adviser went on, “If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle.” The American, British, and other coalition forces in Iraq would be at greater risk of attack from Iranian troops or from Shiite militias operating on instructions from Iran. (Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, has close ties to the leading Shiite parties in Iraq.) A retired four-star general told me that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region, “the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.”

“If you attack,” the high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna, “Ahmadinejad will be the new Saddam Hussein of the Arab world, but with more credibility and more power. You must bite the bullet and sit down with the Iranians.”

The diplomat went on, “There are people in Washington who would be unhappy if we found a solution. They are still banking on isolation and regime change. This is wishful thinking.” He added, “The window of opportunity is now.”

[ Last edited by markwu at 2006-4-12 09:10 PM ]
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Post time 2006-4-12 21:17:20 |Display all floors

innocents

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Post time 2006-4-12 21:18:04 |Display all floors

and

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Post time 2006-4-13 00:21:23 |Display all floors

great pictures, mark.

i would like to comfort myself by thinking that the chance of america preemptively and , most likely nuclearly, striking iran is as high as california independence, or another civil war,  since DEMOCRACY NEEDS CIVIL WAR

All democratic countries should follow the example of Iraq --  starting a civil war.  Nothing can resolve the political and ethnic divides, that democracy causes, more effectively than a civil war.  But the most important reason for this letting out of steam internally is so that it does not spread externally.

For example, should Iraq be united, as a mob under demobcrazy, it would surely declare war with America.  And in America, the present-day's evil-be-the-muslims is no worse than the inferior-be-the-blacks, which was finally resolved by such a civil war. America, therefore, also needs a civil to resolve this issue.  On the other hand, again, without American fighting a civil war, the Axis-of-Evil No.2, Iran may get it next from America.

And, of course, there is Taiwan.  The chiwawa of a President Chen is desperately trying to start something with China.  Such a conflict, if ignited in the name of democracy, would spread world wide,  And Taiwan may be wooing another 2-18 incident(a massacre when Chiang 1st landed in Taiwan), if not a cleansing bloodbath.  So, the opposition party, now led by Mr. Horse, should simply remove Chen by force via a civil war.  The resulting authoritative government would be a compatible partner for China.  Taiwan and China could then cleanse out themselves once for all of the conflict prone phenomena of democracy and politcs.

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Post time 2006-4-13 09:44:31 |Display all floors

No War! No War! No War! No War! No War!

No War! No War! No War! No War! No War!

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Post time 2006-4-13 10:58:23 |Display all floors

Wow! Iran can threaten Russia and Europe?

Wow! that would be rather silly for the Persians....
Is this just American propaganda or truth....
If Persians develop delivery system to reach Moscow and Europe...
it will rapidly loose in the PUBLIC OPINION WAR....

Well, a socialist moslem nation like Persia depends on 1 commodity for its export..
crude oil and gas.....
who is financing them....Americans!...by increase crude oil prices..

So, its American tomfoolery again....
threaten Persia.....make them worried....so they have a nuclear programme
..and then make Persia spend big on military....so that eventually Persia can threaten Russia and Europe....

geeeze.....

good trick....
I really doubt USA will invade Persia....
It's tomfoolery.......
otherwise...now USA will be implementing the DRAFT and having the US$ 1 trillion military budget....

Persia..just concentrate on making American occupation of Iraq expensive....
no point wasting precious resource on building a SUPER EXPENSIVE ARSENAL..which could be depleted by pushing crude oil prices back to the US$20/barrel level...

ha ha ha ha ha

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Post time 2006-4-13 14:40:26 |Display all floors

and the skies darken

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