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Gulf War III Isn’t an Option

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Posted on Feb 24, 2012

By Eugene Robinson

We’ve heard this quickening drumbeat before. Last time, it led to the tragic invasion and occupation of Iraq. This time, if we let the drummers provoke us into war with Iran, the consequences will likely be far worse.

Rat-ta-tat-tat. Weapons of mass destruction. Boom-shakka-boom. A madman in charge. Thump-thump-thump. Mushroom clouds.

Tune out the anxiety-inducing percussion and think for a minute. Yes, there are good reasons to be concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. But it doesn’t follow that launching a military attack—or providing support for an attack by Israel—would necessarily be effective, let alone wise. The evidence suggests it would be neither.

Obviously, Iranian officials are lying when they say their nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes. But it is clear that Iran does not yet have the ability to build a nuclear weapon—and unclear whether the Iranian government, if and when it does achieve that capability, will take that final provocative step.

Covert operations believed to have been carried out by Israeli intelligence agents, perhaps with U.S. assistance—a diabolically clever computer virus that crippled many of Iran’s enrichment centrifuges, along with the targeted assassinations of key Iranian scientists—have significantly slowed Iran’s progress toward being able to make a bomb. It is reasonable to assume that such actions, and their effectiveness, will continue.

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But let’s also assume that sabotage, in the end, will not be enough to keep Iran from reaching its goal. What then?

First, it seems to me, you have to figure out why the Iranian regime has gone to the trouble and expense of mounting a nuclear program in the first place. If you string together enough examples of the apocalyptic, anti-Semitic rhetorical venom that spews regularly from both religious and secular authorities in Iran, you might believe that as soon as the first nuclear-tipped missile came off the assembly line it would be sent hurtling toward Israel. But if you look at the way the regime actually behaves, you’d have to conclude otherwise.

The Iranian government acts in ways that are inimical to the interests of Israel, the United States, our Western allies and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. But it does not act in ways that are inherently irrational.

The regime wants Iran to be able to dominate the region as it did in the days of the Persian Empire. Like all dictatorial governments, it also wants to perpetuate its hold on power. Achieving nuclear capability would serve both these goals; a suicidal attack against Israel or the United States would serve neither.

It is worth mentioning that the regime’s superpower ambitions were greatly furthered by the U.S. decision to go to war against Iraq, thus eliminating Iran’s chief rival. When Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, he used them on his own people and against Iran, not against the West.

It’s also worth mentioning that Iranian leaders might look at Iraq and Libya, which abandoned their nuclear programs, and then look at North Korea, which did not, and conclude logically that the best way for a “rogue” government to survive is to make a bomb.

My guess is that the Iranians might stop short of actually testing a nuclear device. Simply letting the world know they’re able to make one would give them the added clout they seek.

To be sure, a world with a nuclear-capable Iran would be a more dangerous place—especially for Israel and the United States, but also for Saudi Arabia and every other nation within missile range. But is there an alternative?

Iran is a huge country, and its nuclear facilities are widely dispersed across forbidding terrain—in some cases, buried deep in mountainsides. I am not convinced that an Israeli air attack, even with logistical support from the United States and its regional allies, would be able to accomplish more than delay the nuclear program by a few years.

The United States could do a more definitive job. But we would be talking about a massive, sustained bombing campaign of the kind that preceded the Iraq invasion. We’re not talking about some kind of one-day “surgical” strike. It would be war.

Are you ready for Gulf War III? If not, the only choice is to continue with diplomacy and sanctions. They aren’t great options, but they’re the best we’ve got.


Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2012, Washington Post Writers Group


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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, February 24, 2012 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

We’ll have to see.  Meanwhile, however The Usual Suspects (Gringolandia, the UK, France, Italy and Turkey) are organizating an invasion of Syria.

Why nothing about THAT here?

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By gerard, February 24, 2012 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

The lie that is supposed to keep everything war business as usual:  ” the only choice is to continue with diplomacy and sanctions. They aren’t great options, but they’re the best we’ve got.”
  The kind of “diplomacy” we are doing is not real diplomacy—it is threat, bluster and cultural antagonism (anti-Islam). Sanctions punish the ordinary citizens without phasing the elites. Both are merely pretenses.
  Real diplomacy would consist of energetic efforts to cooperate and work for friendly relations and mutual understanding of cultural differences. This requires strength of character, belief in justice for all, and persistant good will—none of which are good for war-making. Sanctions are obviously evil because they punish the “wrong” people. They do, however, preserve the illusions of the sanctioning countries as “morally superior” to those sanctioned—which is no more than self-righteous assumption.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 24, 2012 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

Who is lying about what? Your guess is as good as mine…That both sides are lying is a
certainty….

With so many lives in balance, so many innoscemts that wiill die on both sides its time to
refuse…

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, February 24, 2012 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

In any case, insanity is always an option.  As the ruling class of the US continues to deteriorate, we can expect ever more serious fits and breakdowns.  A war with Iran and the incineration of much of the Middle East, including Israel, could be one of them.  But let’s hope not.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 24, 2012 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson; the guy lives on MSNBC kissing the rear ends of Rachel MadCow and Ed (“I see nothing”) Schultz. Eugene probably plans to hang around long enough like Chris Hayes and Messiah Harris-What’s-her-face until MSNBC gives him a show.

“Covert operations believed to have been carried out by Israeli intelligence agents, perhaps with U.S. assistance—a diabolically clever computer virus that crippled many of Iran’s enrichment centrifuges, along with the targeted assassinations of key Iranian scientists—have significantly slowed Iran’s progress toward being able to make a bomb. It is reasonable to assume that such actions, and their effectiveness, will continue.”

I agree with Arabian Sinbad; the above is bullshit of the highest order.

Both acts named above are clear “acts of war”.

Iran wants to create their own Nuclear fuel so they won’t be trapped into being held hostage by the west to supply their reactors. Our media knows this; Eugene Robinson knows this, but would never utter anything that would allow “context”!

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By Big B, February 24, 2012 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

Eugene,

Don’t believe what you hear, believe what you see. YOUR boy, and his neo-liberal pals are planning the attack of Iran as we speak. Exactly when will depend on his polling numbers after the RNC.

I have seen this movie too many times.

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Arabian Sinbad's avatar

By Arabian Sinbad, February 24, 2012 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

“Covert operations believed to have been carried out by Israeli intelligence agents, perhaps with U.S. assistance—a diabolically clever computer virus that crippled many of Iran’s enrichment centrifuges, along with the targeted assassinations of key Iranian scientists—have significantly slowed Iran’s progress toward being able to make a bomb. It is reasonable to assume that such actions, and their effectiveness, will continue.”
=====================================================
Shame on you Eugene Robinson for more than one reason!

1. Though on the surface you seem to be against traditional warmongering, the above quotation from your piece clearly indicates that you believe in covert evil actions, assassinations, and continued hostilities and provocations against Iran, a country thousands of miles away from the United States that never attacked and will never have the capability of attacking the United States.

2. It seems clear that you have bought on the evil propaganda and brainwashing that the evil Zionist regime of Israel and their American blinded slave supporters have been spreading for generations.

Unless you face to the fact that evil Israel was founded on terrorism, continues to survive on state-sponsored terrorism and evil apartheid and colonialist policies, and that your beloved country political-military America has always been enabler of all Israel’s evils, and that tiny Israel is the the artificially-created entity in the region that already possesses some 200-400 nuclear weapons and continuously threatens to attack Iran, all your hypocritical and split vision words smack of moral failure and support for the least of two evils!!

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, February 24, 2012 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Tell us more about those “covert operations believed to have been carried out by Israeli intelligence agents”, Mr. Robinson.

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/movers-and-shakers/

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By Coach Kt, February 24, 2012 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe we should put our energy into not kicking beehives and return to a nation that leads by example and inspires young democracies instead fear monger and attack vulnerable countries that give us meaning!

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By balkas, February 24, 2012 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

ER: obviously iranian officials are lying that their nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.
well, speaking only for me, it is not obvious that iranians are lying about about their intentions.
they may be lying [i know i would if i were iranian president knowing what the West is capable of
doing] but it is not, i conjecture, obvious to most people.
in any case, ER tacitly posits the notion that he can prove that iranians are lying; so, why not give it to
us?? 

to make matters murkier, ER goes onto say that: “it is unclear whether Iran will take provocative step”.
he avoids this time to say that it is obvious what iran would eventually do, but it is OBVIOUS that they
are lying about their intent.

mind you, i propose we have less energy and thus less overuse/overwaste than we have now; so, i am
against iran’s or anybody else’s N-program; provide, of course, others agree with that policy.

re: iranian provocative step? well, all arms pose a threat; i.e., evoke/provoke fears, war fever,
destabilization, poverty, insecurity. bozhidar b.

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By ardee, February 24, 2012 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Obviously, Iranian officials are lying when they say their nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.

Is it all THAT obvious? Mr. Robinson declaims for peace while accepting the propaganda sans evidence to the contrary. The Ayatollah Khomeini has, on several occasions, spoken about his aversion to nuclear weapons. But ,of course, Robinson shills for the establishment.

The USA, owning the most nuclear weaponry of any nation on earth, orders another nation to possess none. Interesting that we think we can be so hypocritical.

Further, in order to negate any need for Iran to think about its own defense we threaten them daily. Quite a strategy we adopt!

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By Roberto Suares, February 24, 2012 at 3:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

when will this all this madness stop? it is ridiculous that the USA, most of Europe, Israel and Australia are so gunning for war, total world domination. We, the people, must put an end to this madness. Do not do to others what you do not wish on youself. Who are the real terrorists of this world?

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