Blog of Mass Distraction

Friday, January 28, 2005

Target Iran

There's been some speculation about covert operations the US is conducting in Iran. A lot of focus has been put on Iran as the next target for freedomization.1 The nuclear weapons program has apparently been put on hold thanks to that agreement with the EU, but Iran is continuing it's nuclear power programs (which is what the US has been covertly investigating). When this was brought up however, the Bush administration denied such acts and said even if they were conducting such acts they would be classified and wouldn't be discussed. Yeah... that's subtle.
But in spite of all this controversy and discussion, I seriously doubt that the United States would invade Iran. Now you might ask, what on earth would stop them? Well aside from the US military already being stretched at having to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq, the US doesn't normally attack a country where it's likely to lose a large number of troops. Up until this last war, the US predominantly participated in aerial wars (where it can reign supreme). That or the US uses other people and simply supplies the weapons, resources, intelligence and so on.
I certainly believe the US may try to incite revolution there, or use intelligence agents and perhaps try to foment a coup. But sending troops into Iran would be utterly stupid. Sure the US could win a typical war by bombing the hell out of the country and sending troops to the capital. But the US couldn't occupy Iran without ten times the trouble that it's had occupying Iraq. It's true that there are some people in Iran that would be happy to see the US come in, but I feel they are a minority. There are certainly some that want to see the authoritarian religious government overthrown, but I doubt that many of them are anxious to see what's happened in their two neighbouring countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) happen to them. Besides, I don't think Iranians have forgotten who supported the Shah and who supported the overthrow of their democratically elected leader Mossadegh. If the US sent troops to Iran, they would suffer heavy casualties and the US doesn't like losing American soldiers.
Also, if the US decided to bomb targets in Iran, it would be doing so without any justification and completely as the aggressor. The US calls Iran a terrorist state, but how many countries has Iran invaded? How many democratic leaders has Iran overthrown? How many ruthless dictators has Iran provided military and intelligence support for? The US has done all these things and much more (in fact it did the latter two to Iran).2 But when the Shah was booted out of several Americans were captured and held hostage in the US embassy for over a year.3 They were all eventually released and alive and unmolested, which is a lot more than you can say for those captured by American troops (that is of the people they decide to capture).
The other example of Iran's support for terrorism is their support of Hezbollah. Hezbollah, however, fought the Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon.4 Hezbollah also happens to run hospitals and schools and apparently has a popular news network. Their attacks are considered terrorist, but any similar such attacks by allied forces are always just and noble.
So if the US did bomb targets in Iran, it would draw massive international criticism, which the current administration perhaps wouldn't care about. But it would have some very serious consequences, especially since China has allied itself with Iran as a vital energy supplier. Furthermore, Iran might not be able to strike back directly at the US (though I wouldn't rule it out if it has long range ICBMs), but Israel would certainly feel the brunt of a retaliation, and I seriously doubt the US wants that.

1. CNN: U.S. planning for possible attack on Iran


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