13 February 2007
Washington eyes an attack on Iran.
The last few years has seen tension between Washington and Tehran ratcheted up time and again. Now the Americans have taken a further long stride towards war with Iran by producing a seriously dodgy document which alleges that Iran is aiding the Iraqi resistance. The Independent makes the obvious point that if true, this would put the final nail in the coffin of the tales that Blair was spreading around four long years ago; namely that Iraq had the indigenous capability to produce sophisticated weaponry. Washington now claims that they cannot even produce a bomb to blow up American vehicles with and must import them from Iran! Patrick Cockburn and Juan Cole have both weighed in against the report, as has Antiwar.com.
None of these criticisms will have any effect if the USA is seriously bent on starting another war. The question is are they?
It is possible that Washington is playing a highly dangerous game of blame the Iranians for domestic political reasons. Iraq has become a disaster and the next presidential elections are now less than two years away. It is possible that the Americans simply want to blame Iran for the mess, and thus to divert attention from the Chimp's, and the Chimp's party's, failings.
However, it is just as likely that we are now in the run-up to another war - and the problem is that nobody seems to know just how the Iranians will respond. It is obvious that the Americans cannot launch a ground attack against Iran, for the simple reason that they do not have enough troops. Thus the only option is a series of rolling air attacks on Iran's facilities. Everything that comes out of washington seems to be suggesting that the American plan relies on the Iranians doing what Washington wants. That in itself is a dangerous aspect of this wheeze: we will do this, and the other side will do that - so what if they don't?
We don't know just how sophisticated the Iranian military is. It might be pretty shoddy, lacking spare parts and poorly trained. On the other hand the country does seem to have been preparing for war for at least two years, and what their tactics will be is is anyone's guess.
When Israel attacked Lebanon's Hizbullah last year, they were sent packing by that militia: a militia that is armed and trained by Iran, but that does not give us much grounds for speculation as to how Iran will behave if America attacks her for the simple reason that a ground attack is out of the question.
The most logical answer is that Iran will make life hell for the USA in Iraq, but even that is unclear. Iran has submarines and could use them against the American fleet. She could block the Straights of Hormuz and choke off Europe's oil supply. She might even have sleeper units sitting in American cities waiting for the order to do something or other. Nobody seems to know. . .
It is this uncertainty that makes the situation so tense, and the future so troubling. When Germany attacked Poland in 1939, she had a fairly clear idea of how the Poles would fight back. Nobody in Washington can say the same thing today.