Iran--the Inevitable War?

 "If Washington wants a war with Iran, then there'll be a war with Iran. That's the great lesson of the Iraq war; once the decision is made, there's no turning back."

We already reported on the possibility of a war with Iran in "Why Iran Is Next" (WWNK 2/28/05). But things have happened, and happened fast, that seem to warrant an update on the situation.

The more conspiratorially inclined believe that despite apparent diplomatic efforts, the U.S.' decision to invade Iran has long been made--much like the Iraq war, which according to the infamous Downing Street memo was a done deal eight months before the first bullet was fired.

Controversial former UN Weapons Inspector and fervent government critic Scott Ritter claims that America's war with Iran has already begun. Instead of Plan A (European negotiations with Iran), Plan B (intervention of the Security Council) and Plan C (war), there is and always has been only one plan, claims Ritter, with the above three plans best seen as consecutive steps, each as inevitable as its predecessor.

He is not the only one who's wondering. "Will Israel Start World War Three?" asks an October 2 article on Three senior Israeli lawmakers, authors Watson and Jones point out, have recently warned that if the U.S. is not going to act decisively against Iran, Israel will... and if history is any indication, that day may not be far off.

"In 1981, Israel bombed the Osiraq nuclear power plant near Baghdad immediately prior to it being fueled by its French contractors," the authors write. "Once fueled, bombing is out of the question because of the radiation that would be emitted. . . The Bushehr reactor [in Iran] is a Russian project and it is set to be fueled very shortly."

Since Russia--and China, too--recently have tied economic knots with Iran, Watson and Jones argue, they would likely support Iran in case of an attack by Israel. The U.S., on the other hand, has an obligation to help Israel, and Europe to help the U.S. All Israel or the U.S. need as a trigger, say the authors, is another terrorist attack on the scope of 9/11 in one or the other country that can be blamed on Iran.

Our conservative readers may turn away in disgust upon reading such conspiratorial drivel. Being skeptics ourselves, there is nevertheless a good reason why we like to keep up on the latest news from the realm of gloom and doom: It saves us from unpleasant surprises. If we can imagine the worst-case scenario, we'll never be unprepared... at least that's what we like to tell ourselves. Besides, there is mounting evidence coming from reputable sources that underscores the claims of the "conspiracy nuts."

On September 10, for example, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon had just published a new drafted version of a doctrine called The Doctrine of Joint Nuclear Operations that, if passed by the Senate, would enable the U.S. to launch preemptive nuclear strikes against nations or terrorist groups planning to use weapons of mass destruction.

"The first example for potential nuclear weapon use listed in the draft is against an enemy that is using or 'intending to use WMD' against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian populations," explains the article.

In the context of the increasingly hostile U.S.-Iranian relations, the timing seems a bit too coincidental. But there's more.

According to an article in the August 1 issue of The American Conservative, VP Cheney "has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States."

"The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran," the brief article continues, "employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran, there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. . .

"As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections." [Emphasis ours.]

Scott Ritter says the preparations are in full swing. "As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities," he writes in a June 23 article. "The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase."

He talks about CIA-backed operations taking place in Iran, including bombings committed by an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahadeen el-Khalq... who are, ironically, labeled as a terrorist group by the U.S. government. "To the north, in neighboring Azerbaijan, the U.S. military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran."

Iran itself hasn't been dozing, either, it seems. A September article in Arab News states laconically: "Incredible though it may sound, there are signs that Tehran may be preparing for a military confrontation with the United States, and has convinced itself that it could win."

The author, Amir Taheri, lists some surefire indicators for a pending war, including the replacement of several key figures in the military high command and the shifting of some of the purged officers to a "mysterious new organ called 'The Defense Guidance Commission'.

"Another sign that Tehran may be preparing for war is the appointment of military officers to posts normally held by civilians, such as governors, mayors and directors of major public corporations."

Third, says Taheri, there is a huge military build-up underway in the five provinces bordering on Iraq--250,000 soldiers, the largest troop gathering since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

However, the Iranians seem to underestimate their foe: Bunker-like facilities to house Iran's political and religious leaders have been erected in Mash'had, strategically positioned to nearly hug the "Holy Shrine of Reza", the eighth imam. Aside from the fact that Mash'had is located as far in the center of Iran as possible, according to Taheri, "the U.S. is also expected to shrink from attacks against the Mash'had bunker for fear of collateral damage to the 'holy shrine' of the imam a few hundred yards away."

If they think that ploy will work against a determined U.S. military, they clearly haven't been paying attention.

Will all this really happen? We don't know, but we're used to the fact that reality is generally stranger than fiction. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose--and you allow him to make war at pleasure."

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Posted 10-11-2005 2:05 PM by Doug Casey